We all are aware that the extremist necons and likudniks were in control of the Bush administration foreign policy and what a threat that represents. What has not been so obvious is how the Radical Christians have infiltrated the Bush administration. They represent a threat to the very foundation that this country was built on. A much greater threat than the Taliban hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the subject of Paul Krugman's commentary today,
For God’s Sake
In 1981, Gary North, a leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement — the openly theocratic wing of the Christian right — suggested that the movement could achieve power by stealth. “Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure,” he wrote, “and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order.”We have of course seen the results. These Radical Christians have either had no interest in anything other than their radical Christian agenda or have simply been incompetent. We have seen science replaced by magic in government policy making and attempts to teach magic instead of science in or schools. And yes, whenever a scandal surfaces in the Bush administration the Radical Christians are there.
Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide “Christian leadership to change the world,” boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.
Unfortunately for the image of the school, where Mr. Robertson is chancellor and president, the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling, a product of the university’s law school. She’s the former top aide to Alberto Gonzales who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys and has declared that she will take the Fifth rather than testify to Congress on the matter.
The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda — which is very different from simply being people of faith — is one of the most important stories of the last six years. It’s also a story that tends to go underreported, perhaps because journalists are afraid of sounding like conspiracy theorists.
But this conspiracy is no theory. The official platform of the Texas Republican Party pledges to “dispel the myth of the separation of church and state.” And the Texas Republicans now running the country are doing their best to fulfill that pledge.
Kay Cole James, who had extensive connections to the religious right and was the dean of Regent’s government school, was the federal government’s chief personnel officer from 2001 to 2005. (Curious fact: she then took a job with Mitchell Wade, the businessman who bribed Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham.) And it’s clear that unqualified people were hired throughout the administration because of their religious connections.
For example, The Boston Globe reports on one Regent law school graduate who was interviewed by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. Asked what Supreme Court decision of the past 20 years he most disagreed with, he named the decision to strike down a Texas anti-sodomy law. When he was hired, it was his only job offer.
Or consider George Deutsch, the presidential appointee at NASA who told a Web site designer to add the word “theory” after every mention of the Big Bang, to leave open the possibility of “intelligent design by a creator.” He turned out not to have, as he claimed, a degree from Texas A&M.
There’s Ms. Goodling, of course. But did you know that Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota — three of whose deputies recently stepped down, reportedly in protest over her management style — is, according to a local news report, in the habit of quoting Bible verses in the office?And as Krugman points out there are plenty of potential new champions.
Or there’s the case of Claude Allen, the presidential aide and former deputy secretary of health and human services, who stepped down after being investigated for petty theft. Most press reports, though they mentioned Mr. Allen’s faith, failed to convey the fact that he built his career as a man of the hard-line Christian right.
And there’s another thing most reporting fails to convey: the sheer extremism of these people.
You see, Regent isn’t a religious university the way Loyola or Yeshiva are religious universities. It’s run by someone whose first reaction to 9/11 was to brand it God’s punishment for America’s sins.
Two days after the terrorist attacks, Mr. Robertson held a conversation with Jerry Falwell on Mr. Robertson’s TV show “The 700 Club.” Mr. Falwell laid blame for the attack at the feet of “the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians,” not to mention the A.C.L.U. and People for the American Way. “Well, I totally concur,” said Mr. Robertson.
The Bush administration’s implosion clearly represents a setback for the Christian right’s strategy of infiltration. But it would be wildly premature to declare the danger over. This is a movement that has shown great resilience over the years. It will surely find new champions.
Next week Rudy Giuliani will be speaking at Regent’s Executive Leadership Series.Religion is a tool of those who seek power. That's all it's ever really been to those who seek power and a good tool it is. I will close with this quote I have used before. It applies to the Radical Christian Right and the Islamic jihadists equally.
Unfortunately, some wars are won by the side that is the most fanatical in the religious sense. The victorious leaders harness the holy energy of collective insanity.
[From The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson]
The Carpetbagger Report points out it could have been a lot worse.
There’s no doubt that the religious right’s extremism is antithetical to American values and traditions, and the fact that Robertson’s activists now pepper the rosters of practically every executive agency is disconcerting.
But I can’t help but notice that the Christian right has also failed to get what the movement wants. Abortion is still legal. Not only is there no anti-gay amendment in the Constitution, but support for legally-recognized gay relationships is on the rise. Public schools still can’t impose prayers on kids. Ten Commandments displays still struggle to receive state sanction. Americans now believe Democrats, not Republicans, are more reliable on questions of morality and values.
This is not to say that the last six years have been pleasant. Because of the religious right’s influence, we have more rigid ideologues on the federal bench, stiffer indecency fines, dangerous restrictions on medical research, spectacularly stupid abstinence-only programs, and a Justice Department that prioritizes porn over civil rights.
But looking back, I think we’ve gotten off easy. Robertson disciples and Dobson acolytes may be everywhere, but they haven’t been that successful. The church-state wall has taken a few hits, but it’s still standing. Dobson looks back at the last six years as a missed opportunity, not a triumph. Indeed, after years of religious right influence,
Perhaps the real lesson of the last few years is that theocratic Republican officials in the administration tend to screw up and get mired in scandal just like regular ol’ Republican officials in the administration.
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