Friday, November 24, 2017

The "Christian" Right's Foul, Judgmental Men

"Family values" hate merchants

I have tracked the activities of the so-called religious right's "family values" groups since the 1990's - well be fore I came out and while I was active in the Republican Party.  From the beginning, my impression was that these groups' main focus was (i) denigrating others, including gays, blacks, other minorities, and independent minded women, (ii) gaining and then maintaining political power, (iii) inflicting their toxic religious beliefs on all of society through any means necessary, including lying incessantly and displaying stunning hypocrisy in the process, and (iv) supporting a Republican agenda that sought to harm the poor, the homeless, the sick and the hungry and anyone else they deemed as "other."   Typically, these groups are headed by chauvinistic men thirsting for power - James Dobson and Tony Perkins are two prime examples - who care nothing about basic morality.  Other than ranting against gays, abortion, rejecting responsible sex education, and restoring mandatory  school prayer, true morality is absent from their agenda.  Now, with society displaying revulsion toward sexual harassment as embodied by Roy Moore, Harvey Weinstien, and Donald Trump, these Pharisee like men are not only failing to call out sexual predators, but in many cases are actively supporting the perpetrators so long as they are not "liberals."  A column in the Washington Post by a former George W. Bush White House staffer calls out the moral bankruptcy of these toxic  men and their followers.  Indeed, if one believes in true morality, look for it anywhere except among the "godly folk."  Here are column excerpts:
Even in a political season of routine marvels, few developments are more spectacularly incongruous than this: The United States has seen a swift, dramatic shift in attitudes toward sexual harassment with Donald Trump as president.
It is sometimes assumed (including by me) that the presidency sets a moral tone for the nation, influencing what society considers normal and acceptable in a kind of trickle-down ethics. But the sexual harassment revolution emerged from society in spite of — or even in defiance of — a president who has boasted of exploiting women and who stands accused of harassing more than a dozen.
It is a sign of hope that moral and ethical standards can assert themselves largely unaided by political, entertainment and media leaders — except when they serve as cautionary tales of egregious behavior. We are seeing an example of how social change often (and increasingly) takes place. Advocates of a cause can push for a long time with little apparent effect. Then, in a historical blink, what seemed incredible becomes inevitable. Over a period of years, this is what happened with the same-sex marriage movement. A type of inclusion that initially appeared radical and frightening became an obvious form of fairness to a majority of Americans. Politicians, including President Barack Obama, were left catching up to the new social consensus.
Over a period of weeks, this is the story of the revolt against sexual harassment. What seemed for generations the prerogative of powerful men has been fully revealed as a pernicious form of dehumanization.  . . . An ethical light switch was flipped. Moral outrage — the appropriate response — now seems obvious.
On sexual harassment, our country is now in a much better ethical place. And how we got here is instructive. Conservatives have sometimes predicted that moral relativism would render Americans broadly incapable of moral judgment. But people, at some deep level, know that rules and norms are needed.
And where did this urgent assertion of moral principle come from? Not from the advocates of “family values.” On the contrary, James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family (now under much better management), chose to side with GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama against his highly credible accusers. “I have been dismayed and troubled,” Dobson said, “about the way he and his wife Kayla have been personally attacked by the Washington establishment.”It is as if Dobson set out to justify every feminist critique of the religious right. Instead of standing against injustice and exploitation — as the Christian gospel demands — Dobson sided with patriarchal oppression in the cause of political power. This is beyond hypocrisy. It is the solidarity of scary, judgmental old men. It is the ideology of white male dominance dressed up as religion.
Conservatives need to be clear and honest in this circumstance. The strong, moral commitment to the dignity of women and children recently asserting itself in our common life has mainly come from feminism, not the “family values” movement. In this case, religious conservatives have largely been bystanders or obstacles. This indicates a group of people for whom the dignity of girls and women has become secondary to other political goals.
We are a nation with vast resources of moral renewal. It is a shame and a scandal that so many religious conservatives have made themselves irrelevant to that task.
If the nation is lucky, the larger society will learn that if one wants a truly moral society the last place it will come from is evangelical and fundamentalist Christians who are in most cases devoid of compassion, concern for others, and basic decency.  Hatred and condemnation of others and false piety are their true hallmarks. 

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