Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ebracing Christianism - A Political Dead End for the GOP

Despite the changing views on religion sweeping across America, including a wholesale exodus of the under 30 generations for institutional religion, the Republican Party for the most part remains locked in an embrace of the Christofascists that will ultimately prove fatal.    The elderly ranks of the Bible beaters are dying off and not being replaced by similarly unthinking/believing younger ranks.  Indeed, as the study cited in an earlier post found, outside of white evangelical Christians, every Christian denomination is trending towards acceptance of gay marriage.  But it is not on just the issue of gay marriage where the GOP is courting political suicide.  Contraception, climate change, the acceptance of scientific fact and objective reality - modernity itself - all are gaining growing acceptance and recognition by a majority of Americans.  Meanwhile the Christians and the GOP remain in a shrinking bubble.  Andrew Sullivan has a post that is a follow up to a debate that he had with a hard core Christianist that looks at the dead end the GOP is racing towards.  Here are highlights:

Last week, as regular readers know, I went to the University of Idaho to debate whether civil marriage equality was good or bad for society as a whole. My interlocutor was and is a fundamentalist, a believer in Biblical morality .  .  .  .  . My hosts sincerely believe that there can be no solid separation between church and state and no basis for social order or “truth” other than Biblical morality as strained through the New Testament. And so purely pragmatic political arguments can quickly become problematic for them. Peter Leithart, who attended the debate, wrote it up on First Things and admirably homed in on the core divide:
Sullivan demanded that Wilson defend his position with secular, civil arguments, not theocratic ones, and in this demand Sullivan has the support of liberal polity. Sullivan’s is a rigid standard for public discourse that leaves biblically-grounded Christians with little to say … That leaves Christians with the option of making theologically rich, biblically founded arguments against gay marriage.  .  .  .  . If that’s a hard case to make, it’s even harder to make the case that homosexuals are in any way a threat to our civilization.
 The traditional Christian moral arguments depend on a metaphysical understanding that is no longer widely shared, not even by Christians.
This is why Christianism cannot win a majority – and is fast becoming a smaller minority. If your agrument is that God says so – and your fellow citizens don’t believe in that same God – how can you even engage in secular debate? New analysis (pdf) of polling and the last election results on the gay marriage question, for example, reveal that only one major religious group now opposes marriage equality across the board: white evangelical Christians, who are pretty close to synonymous with the Tea Party. Even every other Christian population supports it [gay marriage]! From white non-evangelical Christians to Catholics, clear majorities favor the reform.

The GOP’s problem is that this is their base; it cannot compromise because God’s word is inviolable; and yet it is also losing the argument badly. You either stick with this base and lose – or you fight them and lose. Which is why so many in the GOP are now just not talking about the issue.

In Idaho, the crowd was largely white and evangelical. They voted overwhelmingly against marriage equality at the start and after a debate in which my opponent conceded that his argument was ultimately rooted totally in Biblical truth and not secular consequences, and who declared the state of heterosexual marriage as in crisis. In other words, that night mirrored the last twenty years. The longer this debate has gone on, the more the opposition has withdrawn to claims of simple Biblical authority. That is not an appeal to the center of the American polity.

The theo-conservative response to this was an attempt to revive “natural law” arguments against gay marriage, derived from updating Aquinas.  .  .  .  .  Aquinas didn’t know, for example, that humans were conceived by a woman’s egg as well as a man’s sperm. He couldn’t possibly have known what Darwin and his followers have unfolded: a vast, constantly shuffling of DNA, designed to generate diversity in order to survive the challenges of subsistence through time and environment. He couldn’t have known that the animal kingdom is full of homosexuality .  .  .  .

Personally, I care nothing about the slow eventual death of the extremist white evangelical denominations.  But I do care and am troubled by the fact that one of America's major political parties seems trapped in the grip of a dying and increasingly irrational segment of the population.  A segment that sadly views everyone who doesn't look and think just as they do with hatred and contempt.  They will be the death of the Republican Party and their rabid homophobia is hastening the move of many younger Americans from Christianity itself.  The irony is that the Christofascists claim that gays will destroy western civilization yet it is they themselves who are destroying Christianity.

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