6 Sneaky Ways the Christian Right Foists Its Biblical Agenda on America
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Bill O’Reilly recently got into a little hot water with the religious right. The abrasive talk show host dared to suggest on his show, “The O’Reilly Factor,” that the anti-gay movement would be better off using secular arguments against same-sex marriage than resorting endlessly to biblical ones. “The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals,” O’Reilly argued, adding, “And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”
The outcry was swift, and in true Christian right fashion, thoroughly disingenuous, with everyone from Rush Limbaugh to Laura Ingraham trying to cast O’Reilly’s statements as some kind of attack on people’s religious beliefs. Not that they didn’t have cause for hurt feelings. After all, the religious right has already tried the strategy O’Reilly suggested. The lawyer arguing against same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court didn’t reference God or the Bible, but instead came up with a bunch of unconvincing but definitely secular claims. The real reason to be mad at O’Reilly is that he’s condescending, telling the religious right something it already knows, that in order to push its religious views on the public, it needs to dress them up in secular packaging.
Since the beginning, the Christian right has been aware that the First Amendment makes it impossible for them to use “God said so” to justify legislation. They’ve spent decades grafting secular reasons onto what are fundamentally attempts to foist their views on the rest of the country, often going out of their way to conceal the religious origins of their policy ideas. In response, I created this list of what the religious right wants; what nonsense secular reason they give for wanting it; and the actual, true reason, usually down to chapter and verse.
1) What they want: A rollback on environmental protections. This is but one of many ways the religious right has merged its interests with that of corporate America.
The secular reasons they give: Many on the Christian right scoff at the science of global warming. Sadly, Americans in general are resistant to the science of global warming, but white evangelical Christians are even worse than the general public. Pew Forum found in 2009 that 47% of Americans accept the science of climate change, but only 34% of white evangelicals. The objections the religious right offers are fed to them by oil industry lobbyists, such as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council calling global warming theory “speculative."
The unconstitutional, actual religious reasons: They justify this to themselves religiously coming and going. The fundamentalist Cornwall Alliance claims that belief in climate change is anti-Christian, because it “rests on and promotes a view of human beings as threats to Earth’s flourishing rather than the bearers of God’s image” and implies that God’s creation is “the fragile product of chance, not the robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting product of God’s wise design and powerful sustaining.” On the other side of it, as Ben Jervey of GOOD argued, 41% of Americans believe Jesus Christ will usher in Armageddon before 2050. If you believe the world is about to end, it seems pointless to make huge sacrifices to preserve its health into the future.
2) What they want: For the government to take money from the public school system and give it to private schools in the form of vouchers. They’ve had remarkable success at this by hijacking the larger, secular debate over education.
The secular reasons they give: The claim is that “school choice” creates competition among schools that improves educational outcomes. Public school charter systems are seen as an inadequate alternative, because they are supposedly not flexible enough.