Saturday, September 19, 2015

Evangelicals and the Carson Illusion

I typically disagree with most everything columnist Ross Douthat has to say.  He's far too believing in religious fairy tales and too often believes that "godly Christians" deserve undeserved deference or, worse yet, special rights.  But on occasion, he does to get things at least partly right.  In this case, it's his analysis of the idiocy of the evangelical Christian crowd and their growing attachment to retired surgeon Ben Carson who one of my sisters (a nurse practitioner) once knew when they both worked at Johns Hopkins medical center. - she thinks Carson has gone crazy compared to the man she once knew.  When one bases one's life on fantasy and myths, one is likely to be hoodwinked by frauds and charlatans - and the down right crazy.  Here are highlights fro Douthat's column in the New York Times:

Over the last month, as Donald Trump expanded his polling lead, prominent conservatives passed from a mild bemusement to a weary patience to a slow-burning fury with the voters — the “Trumpen Proletariat,” as National Review’s Jonah Goldberg memorably dubbed them — who support him.The fed-up columnists have reasonable questions for Trump-supporting Republicans.

But if you’re looking for the candidate whose polling surge looks most like a march of voter folly, the Donald and his Trumpistas wouldn’t be the place I’d start. Instead, I would pick the Ben Carson phenomenon, and the evangelical Christians who increasingly form the core of his support.

[T]he growing evangelical embrace of Carson is arguably a greater folly than Trumpmania. That’s because the Donald, for all his proud ignorance about policy detail, is actually running an ideologically distinctive campaign:  . . . .

It’s a class revolt, driven by a sadly-justifiable sense that Republican elites don’t have working-class interests close enough to heart. And it’s already won some (very) modest victories for populism — by prodding Scott Walker to make an economic case against low-skilled immigration, for instance, or by encouraging Jeb Bush to go after hedge fund managers in his tax plan.

Carson, on the other hand, is running a more content-free campaign. Like Trump, he’s underinformed and prone to wild rhetorical flights, but unlike the Donald he doesn’t have a distinctive platform. He’s offering a collection of pieties and crankery; mostly, his candidacy is just about the man himself.

And unfortunately evangelical voters have a weakness for this kind of pitch.  . . .
the evangelical tendency has been to look for a kind of godly hero, a Christian leader who could win the White House and undo every culture-war defeat.

Such unrealistic ideas are hardly unique to the religious right. But evangelical culture, as James Davison Hunter notes in “To Change the World,” his magisterial account of recent Christian engagement with American politics, has a particular fondness for the idea of the history-altering individual, the hope that “one person can stand at the crossroads and change things for good.”
As Hunter’s book points out, neither political nor cultural change usually happens like this.
In this election cycle, though, the evangelical hero quest is particularly self-defeating. With same-sex marriage established nationwide and social liberalism ascendant, religious conservatives have a clear policy “ask” they should be pressing every major Republican contender to embrace. They need guarantees that the next G.O.P. administration will move proactively — through something like Senator Mike Lee’s evolving First Amendment Defense Act — to protect religious schools and charities from losing grants or accreditation or even tax-exempt status because they maintain a traditional position on sexual ethics.

I’m sure that a President Ben Carson would deliver these protections. I’m equally sure that the longer the fantasy of a Carson presidency persists, the less likely it becomes that religious conservatives will get them.

Sadly, Douthat still cannot get beyond his own religious beliefs and realize that the only Americans who have their religious freedom under attack are those who are not the evangelicals and Christofascists.  Having one's ability to inflict ones beliefs on the rest of the populace is not persecution. Indeed, such restricts merely stop the Christofascists from persecuting others.  Perhaps if Douthat and like minded far right Christians were not so self-centered and selfish, they would be able to grasp this simple reality.

No comments: