Former Liberty University Graduate Warns Us About What the Religious Right Wants May 29, 2011

Former Liberty University Graduate Warns Us About What the Religious Right Wants

Jason Childs, the founder of the Center for Progress in Alabama, used to be a “Liberty University-trained evangelical pastor.”

He has since left that life behind.

After a divorce, and not being allowed back into the church because of that, he began driving a truck and seeing the country. Now, he’s trying to warn us about what the Religious Right is trying to do:

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.

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.

… 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.

How do we stop them from succeeding? By continuing to fight for the things we believe in: civil rights for everyone, a woman’s right to have an abortion, church/state separation, science-based science education, and all those other issues that make religious conservatives cringe. We’re winning the battle for same-sex marriage and that gives me hope that we’ll eventually win out in the other arenas, too.

Simply put: They’re wrong. We’re right. This isn’t the time to sit on the fence and “be respectful” of their harmful beliefs. We have to encourage people to take a stand against them.

(Thanks to Craig for the link)

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  • The religious right wants exactly what the radical Islamic wants.. obedience to them and their version of their god and “his” rules.

  • Jim H

    That’t the thing about fundamentalism… the belief that “I’m right, about everything” makes it a very short step to “If you believe differently from me (about anything), you’re not just wrong, but evil!”

    (I’m paraphrasing what I remember from a book written by Jimmy Carter a few years ago. He knows a thing or two about fundamentalism, having left the Southern Baptists.)

    It doesn’t matter which set of fundamentals the fundamentalist is insane about–fundamentalists are dangerous. When there are enough of them to make noise, they are more dangerous.

    From time to time, the subject comes up: should we seek allies among “moderate” theists? Well, it depends. In the fight (at the ballot box) against fundamentalists, President Carter is my ally.

  • The terminology is so confusing …

    If left means more government control, and right means more personal liberty.

    Then, they are actually religious left. You people are mostly science left. You and them are not very different.

    By the way, I am science right.

  • MamaGump

    “You and them are not very different.”

    And the illiterate will lead us…

  • jen

    jflycn, in what way do you think “You people” (I assume you mean readers & commentors as well as Hemant) want more government control?

    I’m serious – what is it you think we want?

    Because I personally would like to see the government stop trying to interfere in medical decisions like abortion, end-of-life, and pain control. I’d like to see the government stop trying to legislate morality through its definition of marriage as well as the war on drugs and the criminalization of consensual adult prostitution.

    On the other hand, I do think it takes government action to make sure our food supply is reasonably disease-free. I think it takes government to keep our water supply drinkable. I think government is the only efficient way of providing fire and police protection.

    Where do you think I’m so much more pro-government-control than you are?

  • Steve

    @jflycn
    The point is that they only say they want less government control. What they really mean is they want a laissez-faire economy. A totally free market. It pleases their corporate masters.

    But when it comes to social issues, they couldn’t be happier with government intrusion and control. Especially for people they don’t like: gays, women, immigrants, the poor, the sick, non-Christians, etc.. They themselves freely ignore the rules they demand for others and still try to claim the moral high ground.

  • David Akers

    I do have to disagree with the wording on a single part of the interview. The religious right are very comfortable with the rule of the majority. What they really fear is that over time they have been less and less successful using the ‘tyranny of the majority’ to give credibility to their actions.

  • Jim H

    @jflycn

    If left means more government control, and right means more personal liberty.

    Really? Where did you get that? Try this one: Left-Right Politics

    I’ve seen presentations from Libertarians (I believe in liberty, but I am not a Libertarian*) where they drew a diagram with the standard left-right split, then superimposed a diamond with authoritarianism going down and libertarianism (little-L) going up. Your dichotomy is not left vs. right, but authoritarianism vs. libertarianism.

    * Not a Libertarian: I pretty much agree with @jen and @Steve above–in favor of personal liberty, but also in favor of regulations for food safety, consumer-products safety, traffic safety, etc. In other words, fairness and avoidance of harm.

  • Glenn Pollock

    Then the religious right start telling the redneck boys they can not have their beer, watch their foot ball, go to their topless bar, get a divorce and must attend church all hell will break out. I do not think many people who support the religious right understand just what they have in mind for them.

  • @jen
    Do you want government to control education?

    @Steve
    I said, “they are actually religious left”.

  • Ben

    How do we fight them? By not being accommodationalists. We can be nice when the battle is over. But not a moment too soon.

  • Steve

    They certainly aren’t “religious left”. The Christian left stands for social justice; e.g. they are usually for things like welfare and universal healthcare

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_left

    Ok, it’s Wikipedia, so beware, but take this:
    “The Christian Left holds that social justice, renunciation of power, humility, forgiveness, and private observation of prayer…”

    Extreme free market capitalism is also a politically right position by the way. The left usually advocates for some form of mixed economy.

  • @Steve

    I said, The terminology is so confusing.

    I defined my own as: If left means more government control, and right means more personal liberty.

    Actually, there is more than one dimension. Check this: http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2

    In my definition, left top corner is left, right bottom corner is right.

  • Steve

    The terminology isn’t confusing. Especially when we talk about a religious, rather than a political context. You are confused. You reduce “left” to the simplistic notion of government interference. So don’t even try to post links like that if you can’t acknowledge that it’s more complicated than that.

    The political definition can get muddy sometimes. Also when we consider how extremely right-shifted American politics are – e.g. the “left” Democrats are really just center-left to center-right. Add to that the Republicans are hypocritical fucktards, who talk a lot about small government, but only when it doesn’t concern them and are perfectly fine with subjugating all kinds of groups they hate. So that aspect alone is useless here.

    But this is about the religious context. And as much as the religious right is married the Republicans, the difference between the religious left and the religious right is crystal clear – and has nothing to do with government control.

  • @Steve
    It’s not about the religious context. It’s about political context. We are not talking about religion here. I am not a religious person. I guess you are not either. Why are we talking about religion? NO. We are not. We are talking about politics.

    It’s certainly about about government control. They want the government to control people in their religious way. For them, it’s a religious issue. For us, it’s not. It’s a 100% political issue.

  • jen

    jflycn, I do believe that public schools are both good and necessary – I’ve seen too many “home schooled” children who were not educated in anything except dogma to accept the notion that parents know best about educating their children.

    Too many religious schools also stint the education in favor of the dogma – at one extreme, a 6th grader with some sort of dyslexia who couldn’t reliably read 3-letter words, but he was being passed each year because the alternative was to recommend that he go to the public school for special ed help, and that would require admitting there was something not-evil in the local public schools.

    And here in Ohio we’ve also seen the problems with privately run charter schools – the ones that don’t close in the middle of the first or second year (often due to massive financial mismanagement) don’t show results any better than those achieved by the public schools.

    To me, the problem with government control of education is the way the non-educators on school boards and legislatures want to prevent the teaching of science and accurate history in favor of religious misdirection (or outright lies).

    Do you honestly think that the average parent is capable of teaching their children? Perhaps you think that all parents can afford to enroll their children in quality private schools? I hope you’re not one of those who seem to think that a child’s education matters only when his or her parents (or congregation) can afford to pay for it.

  • Steve

    The linked article is specifically about the religious right and their attempt to take over the country. Maybe you should read it.

    You make some absurd claims that they (and by extension the political right, aka Republicans) somehow want little government interference, which is hypocritical at best and a complete lie at worst. It’s what they preach. Not what they do. The right wing – both religious and political – aren’t actually in favor of a small government. I have no idea where you get that ridiculous notion from. It can’t be from reality. Sure, they are quick to cancel welfare programs and the like (again, how does that make them religious left exactly?), but only to expand the government in many other areas like legislating “morality” into law or bloating the security/intelligence apparatus.

    Your whole premise of “left = more government control” is an American right-wing meme by the way. That’s where you started to go wrong.

  • @jen
    So I am right about you. You are science left , in my definition.

    As I said, there is no big difference between science left and religious left. Both sides do not really care about personal liberty. Both sides think they should take control of the government and then make choice for people in their favored opinion. Both sides think their own favored opinion is the truth and should be accepted by everyone. Both sides think the world will be better in their own way. Both sides think average people are not capable of making right choice for their children. Both sides will love public education, if they get the control of it. …

  • @Steve

    Hey, I agree with your saying of their little government is a complete lie. That’s why I said they are actually left, in my definition.

    You don’t like my definition. I got it.

  • Steve

    To add:
    Where left-wing parties usually want more government influence is in economic policies. They stand for a certain amount of regulations to rein in the market. That’s why Democrats are accused of being socialists, when they really aren’t.

    But when it comes to social policies or national security, it’s the left that wants more individual freedom and less government

    This distinction is the origin of the grid you posted above. So the simple “left = more government” stuff really leads nowhere. You noticed that it is more complex, but still clung to the linear terms. The topic is somewhat interesting in general, but for this discussion it’s quite off topic

  • gribblethemunchkin

    @ jflycn

    Are you a troll? Its hard to tell for non americans. On the one hand, your idea that left is defined by more government control while right is defined by more liberty is laughably naive. On the other hand, the existence of Glen Beck, the Tea party and Sarah Palin proves that American politics doesn’t necessarily have to make sense.

    As noted by Steve, only in economic matters does the left want more government control, mainly to make markets more competitive and to stop the kind of financial ruckus we’ve been suffering through recently, you may have seen something in the news about that.

    The right claims to want more liberty but this usually translates in practice as less restrictions on the rich to get richer. Tax breaks for wealthy people, voucher schools so the education dollars go to private companies (and their wealthy owners), bloated military budgets to support the military industrial block (and their wealthy owners). Liberty and freedom have nothing to do with it.

  • @Steve,

    You think Democrats are not really socialists. For me, a person comes from a former socialist country, I think they are. Because socialist government both control market and people’s mind.

    If you really understand the fundamental connection between government control on economy and government control on personal liberty, if you really understand why all socialist countries control both market and people’s mind, maybe you will like my definition.

  • Noodly1

    I would need much more information about Jason Childs and his own agenda before I would buy into any sort of right-wing, evangelical conspiracy theory.

    Perhaps Jason is full of shit? Perhaps he’s just trying to make a name for himself? Or perhaps he’s sincere and honest. Quite frankly, I can’t tell and don’t know and I’m not much different from the folks who assume there’s some “liberal agenda” or “atheist agenda” if I take what one dude says at face value and I begin believing in this nefarious “religious right” without investigating the source and any underlying motivators.

    To be honest, I believe that the evangelical nutcases are a more splintered group ideologically than we atheists are, and that to say a particular person represents them or their “agenda” is tantamount to saying that Hemant represents all of “us.”

    And not only that, but the far right wing-nuts, in general, are much less intelligent than those of us who politically identify much more to the center or left. That they’ve been able to organize and plot some sort of structured agenda seems fairly implausible.

  • @jflycn,
    Stick to commonly accepted and understood terms and definitions if you have a point to make; otherwise you’re wasting everyone’s time.
    I get it, you have your own definitions for things. However, “I define things differently than you guys” adds nothing to the greater understanding of important issues. It only serves to draw the spotlight onto yourself and your definitions. If that was your goal, I’d say you succeeded. If not…

  • @The Godless Monster,

    Thanks for trying to give me advice when you do not understand my point.

  • Annie

    Noodly1- well said. This smells of conspiracy theory, or even sour grapes. More information is certainly needed before I can form an opinion on this one.

  • anon

    @jcflynn

    Perhaps, if you’d like to make a point, you should use words the way most people use them, and avoid words that you know most people will misunderstand.

    As it is, it sounds like you’re trying to score political points for the religious right by virtue of “just making definitions” that happen to align with common right-wing talking points (democrats are socialists, left-wing is for big government whereas right-wing is not). If “I agree with Republicans and American right-wingers” is NOT the point you WANT to be making with your words – well, tough, you should pick better words and use more commonly used meanings for them, because that’s the point your words are making at the moment.

  • @aonnn,

    Sounds like you understand what I’m saying. Thanks.

  • Claire

    @ jen – I take offense to your opinions on home schooling. You start by saying that too many home schooled children are taught too much dogma, but then you go on to complain about school boards causing the same lies to be taught in the public schools. As far as I am concerned if a religious person wants to teach their kids math by adding together Saul’s children, that’s their prerogative. Do I agree with them? HELL NO! I home school my children so that I can teach them from a scientific humanist world view while also teaching them what others believe and why science proves them wrong. If I sent my children to school they would be forced to say “under God” once a day. How is that a secular education?
    “Do you honestly think that the average parent is capable of teaching their children?” – That is by far the most offensive statement you have made in my opinion for obvious reasons I’m sure. Also obviously my answer is yes. Especially considering that I am teaching 2 children versus 20ish kids in a public school classroom. Now, if I didn’t ever learn to add or to read then no, I would not be “qualified” as I would have nothing to offer. That, however, is not the case. Also for your information both of my children perform above grade level in every subject AND know how to think critically for themselves. Can you say that about your typical public school student who has spent 7 or 8 hours a day being taught to memorize mostly useless facts so they can pass a state mandated test?

  • Claire

    @Jflycn,

    “You think Democrats are not really socialists. For me, a person comes from a former socialist country, I think they are. Because socialist government both control market and people’s mind.

    If you really understand the fundamental connection between government control on economy and government control on personal liberty, if you really understand why all socialist countries control both market and people’s mind, maybe you will like my definition.”

    Just wanted to say, I understand and agree with you completely.

  • AtheistHomeschooler

    I agree with you Claire. I am an atheist homeschooler, but my kids entered public school two years ago. Never before have they encountered SO MUCH Christian doctrine; nor had they ever received so little explanation in math and science classes. Their courses are brief and mostly made up of classroom management. Before they returned to public school, we made sure that they had a well-rounded education in world religions, and very focused attention on science and math.

    They are receiving a fine education in consumerism, the coolness of cutting and suicide pacts, and how to be super cool by ignoring those students that are “weird.” The other homeschooling parents and I used to surreptitiously listen to our kids comparing interesting facts with each like badges of honor. Now, when I take a group of my kids’ friends somewhere, and I hear them questioning *something*, they will refuse to listen to an explanation–“It is Saturday! Don’t talk to me about that.” My daughter even acknowledges that her love of learning is dying. Because, in school, learning is regimented, it is not something that goes along with you into your non-school lives.

    Actually, one of my daughters will be homeschooling again next year (her writing skills have actually declined along with her test scores), and it is a good thing too. The biology class here doesn’t really touch evolution. It’s too controversial apparently. I have spoken to many of the students here, they spout nonsense about evolution because they don’t know any better! And these are PUBLIC SCHOOLERS.

    Should we fight for better science education in the public schools?? Absolutely. Should we demonize the institution of homeschooling without acknowledging that not all homeschoolers are Christian fundamentalists and that a lot of homeschoolers are just normal people hoping to improve their children’s education? Absolutely not.

    @Jen
    I’m sure you respect hard evidence. Homeschooling works. The standardized test scores show that homeschoolers are showing better preparedness for college than public schooled children.

  • AtheistHomeschooler

    Noodly1:

    I would need much more information about Jason Childs and his own agenda before I would buy into any sort of right-wing, evangelical conspiracy theory.

    I agree with you, but I don’t doubt that there is some greater conspiracy theory afoot to control the nation. I just don’t believe that these splinter groups can ever be successful. I think that the majority of Americans are clear-thinking moderates. It’s the marginalized radicals that get the most attention and lead us all to believe that the world is cray-zee.

    I actually have the optimistic feeling that the pendulum is beginning to swing in our direction again, or it will start swinging back soon! It seems that fundamentalism has had its heyday. (I hope.)

  • @Claire,

    Thanks so much. I’m so glad meet one supporter here, eventually. 🙂

  • Miko

    Of course, atheists are against democracy too: I’m sure most of us are glad that we aren’t living in a country with an official church with mandatory membership, where gays are stoned to death, creationism mandated in schools, etc., which is exactly what we’d get in a democracy. Furthermore, all of the bad things that we do have (religious crusades, gays not allowed to marry, etc.) are the fault of what democracy we do have.

    Democracy, put simply, sucks. It’s better than every other form of government ever suggested, but that’s no reason to defend it.

  • jen

    Claire, are you an “average parent”? Probably not. The majority of the people I have met who have tried to home-school their children have been both uneducated and undisciplined. They are capable of doing basic math, reading, and spelling, and can read a history textbook, but they never enjoyed school themselves, and didn’t enjoy teaching their children – “school” never seemed to last more than 2 hours a day, total.

    On the other hand, I have known a couple of home-schooling parents who are FAR above average. They can personally teach most of the basic subjects, and they know which areas they need help with – and they are members of home-schooling groups that help them meet those gaps, and also help them socialize their kids. They spend more time on actual education than most schools do. Their kids are very lucky to have such awesome, dedicated, absolutely-above-average parents.

    From what you say, you are one of these parents. I’m sorry if I insulted you by not addressing this group before, but the question was whether I supported public education. (Which I do, for the reasons given.)

    I have concerns that the public school system is being subverted by the same groups of people who are afraid that public school is evil because kids aren’t being indoctrinated into the “proper” religion – but that’s a reason to fight, not to decide that public education is a bad thing.

  • Claire

    @Jen

    Thank you for acknowledging the fact that there are intelligent, secular home schoolers out here. It takes a lot of work for us to find support in a group filled to a large extent by the religious (a lot of the VERY religious). Myself and my kids have actually lost friends along the journey when they found out I was truly atheist, not just not as religious as them.
    I don’t want to take this anymore off topic, but I wanted to add just one last thing – As for why I do not agree with public schooling (I prefer the term government schooling because that is what it really is) the fear of religion slipping into the classroom was the least of my worries.

  • bible belt atheist

    Excellent post, Hemant!

    I have tried for years to warn people about the Religious Right, and this post only confirms what fundies have told me years ago.

  • Marguerite

    “…I don’t doubt that there is some greater conspiracy theory afoot to control the nation. I just don’t believe that these splinter groups can ever be successful. I think that the majority of Americans are clear-thinking moderates.”

    I tend to agree with this. Heinlein once said something along the lines that religious tolerance only worked in places where there were so many religions that no single one could ever get the upper hand (I’m paraphrasing badly here, and couldn’t find this specific quote, but a good one by Heinlein I did find was: “It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so.”). I think America fortunately has such a diversity of religions that no single one is likely to gain the upper hand. Sure, there are plenty of people who would love to force their religion on everyone in this country– but the rest of us just aren’t going to hold still for that. I hope, anyway!

  • Steve

    There is no more diversity in religion in America than in many other places. There is only a great diversity in Christian sects. They worship they same god and largely believe in the same things. No matter how many of them despise each other, they’ll readily agree to band together when they find a common enemy. They can easily legislate 90% of their beliefs into law and everyone of them will be happy with it.

  • Jflycn, the actual religious left is ecumenical as opposed to fundamentalist.
    Has nothing to do with levels of governmental regulation.
    As for government regulation, I’m a goddamn socialist and f*cking proud of it.

  • Alex

    science-based science education

    It’s sad that today such a silly and redundant phrase actually makes sense.

  • Marguerite

    There is no more diversity in religion in America than in many other places. There is only a great diversity in Christian sects. They worship they same god and largely believe in the same things. No matter how many of them despise each other, they’ll readily agree to band together when they find a common enemy.

    I disagree. IMHO, there is a really large gulf between fundamentalists and more liberal denominations (Lutheran, Episcopalian, and the like). I speak from the perspective of someone who attended a Lutheran church for a long time. Ostensibly, liberal Christians believe in the same basic things as fundamentalists, but you’d have a hard time getting your average Lutheran to agree that Adam and Eve really existed, that the world is only 7000 years old, or that Paul was right and women should be silent in church. It depends, of course, but I really do think there’s an enormous religious and political gap between Christians who believe the Bible is literal word-for-word truth, and the average person who calls himself “Christian.”

  • Craig

    Being from Pennsylvania, this line stuck out at me…
    “If I told you that the Amish in Pennsylvania were running for public office in record numbers with the intention of outlawing electricity and forcing others to act, dress and think like them, you would not believe it. Well, that is exactly what is happening in America, only it is not the Amish, it is the fundamentalists. It is not outlawing electricity, it’s placing limits on being a human with free will.”

  • @Nigel Patel,

    You don’t need to tell me you are a socialist.
    You should go to north korea directly, if you have the balls.

  • Why would I go to a dictatorship when I could go to Canada, UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Japan… you get the picture.
    Still, I’d rather stay here and be one more American vote against wealth.

  • @Nigel Patel,

    Then you need to learn more about politics. Don’t call yourself a socialist when you don’t understand what it really is and you don’t have the balls to go to a socialist country.

  • Those are democratic socialist countries. I have no interest in going to a totalitarian country. It’s bad enough I had to endure eight years with G.W. Bush as President.

  • baz

    The problem is that winning these little fights doesn’t help. The religious right aren’t concerned with popular opinion, in fact the more people that go against them the more they will believe they are “special”. The important fights are the ones that keep these nutjobs away from any positions of power.

    Oh and people, don’t feed the troll (jflycn). Anyone who tries to score points by creating definitions and then challenging others to prove them wrong is by definition closed-minded – he’s not here to debate, he’s here to state his PoV and then argue with anyone who either doesn’t agree with him or challenges his definitions.

  • @Nigel Patel,

    Do you really understand the term “socialist”? Do you know the difference between “social democrats” and “democratic socialist”? And do you really understand what “totalitarian” means? Don’t feed yourself too many terms when you have no basic understanding.

    @baz,

    I feed you with the troll (Nigel Patel). You two can have fun with each other, and the “definitions”.

  • @Jflycn-take some time to learn what the rest of the world means by “left” and “right” in this context. i understand that you have your personal definition. when we were children, my brother and i used to talk to each other on long car trips with our hands-you know, like making shadow puppets, except we weren’t making shadows. we developed a whole vocabulary and language in naked hand puppet lingo. but when we talked to everyone else, we had the manners to use our words.

  • @Jflycn-take some time to learn what the rest of the world means by “left” and “right” in this context. i understand that you have your personal definition. when we were children, my brother and i used to talk to each other on long car trips with our hands-you know, like making shadow puppets, except we weren’t making shadows. we developed a whole vocabulary and language in naked hand puppet lingo. but when we talked to everyone else, we had the manners to use our words.