Tuesday, May 23, 2006

But it's a CHRISTIANIST blitzkrieg, so maybe it's OK...

(For a definition of Christianism (as opposed to Christianity), see this post.)
It appears as though an organization called Teen Mania holds rallies called BattleCry in various cities. Well, several lefties are freaking out about these events, such as this Daily Kos diarist, this one, digby, and plenty others (follow the links, there are pictures!). It sounds pretty scary. An excerpt from one account (from an admittedly hostile and somewhat snarky observer):

Indeed, it had a point, to recruit the future elite "warriors" in the coming battle against the separation of church and state. It turned dark and frightening on Saturday afternoon. After Franklin "Islam is a Wicked Religion" Graham came out to thunder against the evils of homosexuality and the Iraqi people (whom he considers to be exactly the same people as the ancient Babylonians who enslaved the tribes of Israel and deserving, one would assume, the exact same fate)  we heard an explosion. Flames shot out on stage and a team of Navy Seals was shown on the big TV monitors in full camouflage creeping forward down the hallway from the locker room with their M16s. They were hunting us, the future Christian leaders of America. Two teenage girls next to me burst into tears and even I, a jaded middle-aged male, almost jumped out of my skin. I imagined for that moment what it must have felt like to have been a teacher at Columbine high school. 10 seconds later they rushed out onstage and pointed their guns in our direction firing blanks spitting flames. About 1000 shots and bang, we were all dead.

I then followed the select group of Christian youth out into the corridor into the tent where we were told about Teen Mania's "Honor Academy" [link], some type of Christian fundamentalist boot camp designed to replace the first year of college for 600 dollars a month.

Now I know that Christian rock concerts and teen rallies are not new. But the explicit militarization is frightening. The conflation of Fundamentalist Christianity and NAVY seals firing guns makes this secularist very uncomfortable. And explicit support from the President of the United States is pretty freaky:
It began with fireworks so loud and startling I screamed. Lights and smoke followed, and a few kids were pulled up on stage from the crowd. One was asked to read a letter.

This was the letter that opened the event. Its author was George W. Bush.  Yes, the president of the United States sent a letter of support, greeting, prayer and encouragement to the BattleCry event held at Wachovia Spectrum Stadium in Philadelphia on May 12. Immediately afterward, a preacher took the microphone and led the crowd in prayer. Among other things, he asked the attendees to “Thank God for giving us George Bush.”

We've been able to get along in this country because however strong our religious convictions, we've always tacitly agreed on a "live and let live" modus operandi. I'm worried that this "great compromise" is unraveling, just as the slavery "compromise" unraveled before the Civil War.
Am I paranoid or does all this have the trappings of something very evil from the not-too-distant past? I am certainly not the only one to feel this way about it. Read the accounts I've linked to. Battlecry founder Ron Luce actually used the word blitzkrieg, according to the truthdig report. Is this just harmless bloviating or should I really be worried?
This stuff is wrong. Driving religious fervor in a military direction is wrong. It's ugly. It is a recipe for suffering and political disaster. If these reports are accurate, any politician who doesn't condemn this kind of activity is a craven enabler of something that looks a hell of a lot like fascism to me. Someone please point me to some reliable article that says this is a fringe movement, declining in popularity, and held in contempt by most evangelicals who are just decent folks who want you to let the love of Jesus into your life.
By the way, I just wanted to point a book, "The End of Faith", by Sam Harris. I'm currently reading it, and will discuss it more later. I thought his thesis (that humanity will have to rid itself religious faith (as it is commonly understood) altogether if civilization is to survive the next century) was rather extreme, but events like BattleCry make me think he's not entirely smokin' crack.


Anonymous Sarah said...

Wow. Extremely disturbing. Not sure what we can do about it. But moving to Canada is looking better all the time.

8:47 AM, May 23, 2006  
Blogger grishnash said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:20 AM, May 24, 2006  
Blogger grishnash said...

I keep having more and more of these experiences where I halfway feel I could be witnessing the slow rise of fascism and dictatorship in this country... Then I remind myself that I'm just being paranoid, ignore it, and go on with my life... Of course, it's just occurred to me that this is probably precisely the type of mixed feelings and paralysis that happens in the early stages to allow a dictatorship to arise.

10:22 AM, May 24, 2006  

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