Jason Childs, currently the founder and director of the Center for Progress in Alabama, has written an article on the dangers the Religious Right truly pose to our open and free democratic society. What makes Jason unique is that he used to in fact be part of the fundamentalist christian movement. He went to Florida Bible College and also to Liberty University, both training grounds for the evangelical movement in America. If this came from a different kind of source I would more likely disregard it as over the top fear mongering. However it is very startling when someone who was once within the movement openly admits these types of things.
He writes “I was sure that I was right and that every other person not of my faith was going to burn in hell forever. I was taught that we as Christians should take this nation back, only to find out later that we never had it to begin with.” This is the danger of religion, any strongly held religion, in that if a group of people think that they are right and everyone else is so wrong that they would be punished for all eternity then they somehow have the right to force their way of thinking on everyone else. We have seen this happen in other place, look at the Taliban of Afghanistan or Iran’s theocracy. We as a people need to be vigilant against politically powerful groups who think they have a monopoly on truth.
Jason became a truck driver after leaving his church structure after a divorce. “I began to notice a change in me as well. I started reading a lot of books that were not on the seminary reading list and listening to NPR as I was driving 10 hours a day. It was a great second education. I decided to return to Alabama and work to help all of the people of my great state, and to protect them from the oppression I was once a part of propagating.” When people are exposed to different worldviews, they understand they are part of a larger system. This is how fundamentalist and radical faiths hold onto their people – they insulate them from the rest of the world. We’ve seen this when evangelical churchs took part in massive burnings of books like Harry Potter or the Da Vinci Code; even books that shouldnt be threatening are deemed dangerous. We also saw this happen more recently with the pastor in Florida who thought it would be productive to host a large burning of Korans.
He further writes that “I want you to know that the fundamentalist political movement is the beginning of a cultural revolution that will take our nation to a very dark place. You have to understand that this has been methodically planned and is being carried out with the utmost vigilance. In accordance with their worldview, my old friends do not in the least care about what you think. They are against democracy, and they are seeking to end the rule of the majority in our great country. ” and “They truly believe that if you have not been “saved,” you are living under a curse and are incapable of knowing what is best and that because of this you should be ruled over. You should also know they do not believe that even centuries-old Christian communities (Catholics, Anglicans, Greek Orthodox, etc.) are “saved,” only those who think like they do.” This line of thinking is very very dangerous. THIS is the importance of education for our children, THIS is the importance of the separation of Church and State. The same people who will not grant basic civil rights to gay couples will also do their best to take away rights from anyone else that does not share their worldview. This is not America, this is a kind of foreign thought that can only be bred out of misunderstanding and hate.
Jason does end his post on a good note: “The good news is that we are witnessing the beginning of a new era in human existence. While we watch the revolutions across the Middle East, we are seeing a great truth: that people have within them the natural desire to be free. It is so sad that as the people of the world are fighting for freedom, we here in the United States are going in the opposite direction. The far right, under the control of fundamentalists, is declaring an all-out war on human progress.” We need to prevent this from ever happening here and remove the power that the Religious Right hold over our country. If a set of people do not understand the concept of freedom of religion and hate the thought of different world views, then they do not belong in the political process.
DISCLAIMER: This is not an attack on “religion” as a whole, far from it. It is a warning about a very specific group of people within a religious movement in the US. This is also not an attack on “conservatives” as a whole because I myself am conservative politically in many areas. Republicans need to go back to a time when they were not dominated by the evangelical movement, they need to become part of the political process again, and I believe some are trying. What we see now is the so called Tea Party that represents fundamentalist evangelical christianity with figure heads like Palin and Bachman who are so uneducated that they make up history to justify that they spout from their mouths.