Thursday, March 19, 2009

"I Stand Before You As a God-Fearing Young Man" (who is 10 y/o, and also your Preacher)

I only caught the tail-end of this report, but it was so strikingly perverse, that I decided to listen to the whole thing (only what I heard wasn't exactly what I found online, but still, the idea is the same).
Apparently there is, in America, a growing population of pre-pubescent preachers. Some "chap" from the "Beebs" came over to do a report.
Most frightening in this report is the 8 y/o child pleading with women about to get abortions, "don't do this... God loves the little children... Repent!... We want you to go to heaven: THAT'S WHY WE'RE HERE!" (That last bit in full on "tantrum".)

One has to wonder where we have landed as a nation when our fellow citizens entrust their (spiritual) lives to 8 y/o children "preaching" the "word of god."
And then, remembering that these people vote, I propose the following piece of legislation:

If you answer "Yes" to the following question, you lose the right to vote and/or stand for office: Do you believe the Bible is the literal word of God?
It is a first step, I agree, but I figure if you can work with allegory, then there is the possibility of actual discourse.

In the version of the report I heard, a gentleman was making a fairly decent functionalist argument to explain the staggering, exponential growth of Evangelical Christianity, namely: if offers a spirit of community, and quite simply, in a Church people are more likely to be cared for, and in our country, where the is no universal healthcare, people flock to the comfort a Church offers.
Of course, we needn't, and mustn't divinize the State--that would be a nightmare of totalitarian proportions--but lack of political structure and authority yields in turn an increase in "private" structures and institutions, now apparently headed by children (and their rather twisted parents).
This is, as always with me, a political problem, and so it is necessary to begin formulating an adequate political response. This is decidedly _not_ about culture wars, and in this case live and let live is _not_ the prudent response.

The scourge of Christianity on our politics can only be eradicated by concerted political warfare (which must be subtle, and cunning). The "religious Nation" is a historically determined (Cold-War era) phenomenon, as was the more "modern" and cynical deployment of religion by conservatives, especially Reagan, to champion (white/conservative) economic (capitalistic) "self-sufficiency" over-against (black/liberal) economic (welfare) "parasitism" [and fags are included in this: our AIDs rallies were about demanding State funding for research and treatment].

A realizable political first-step is universal healthcare, and a second thereafter--though admittedly a more difficult action for our peers--is to insist on the severe separation of Church and State--which for queers should amount to defying the Congress to reform the tax code regarding the legal status of single v. married people; to refuse marriage and insist rather on a strictly "civil" recognition--or no recognition at all--of _all_ partnerships; and to ourselves step-away from the bait of fighting "straight, homophobic religion" with "queer, accepting religion" and depoliticize religion in our own community.

The fact of children preachers strikes me as bizarre as, no doubt, gay preachers must strike these same children preachers. Entrenched in two ideological beliefs... well, we remember WWI, and that didn't work out so kindly for anyone.
Politics, Schmitt writes, is about friend/enemy distinctions: choosing one's friends, and facing one's enemies. We have, as a community, forgotten what politics means. Our shared enemy is the growth of religious fervor in America--the numbers are simply against us--and those religious queers among us aren't exactly our friends, not, at least, insofar as they perpetuate a system of politicizing religion.

I recently had two different conversations with two different people. The first, with the Writer, regarded an invitation he received to some Secular Humanist conference, and, upon hearing they were "tolerant" of believers, promptly stated, (I paraphrase), "Fuck that, I'm not tolerant of you." The second conversation was so saccharin in its insistence on toleration, acceptance, and compassion (though, mind you, wholly intolerant of my intolerance), that though I didn't make the cheap rhetorical move (by this logic you must, too, accept and tolerate Nazis, the KKK, abortion-clinic bombers, ect, ect.) it was clear that had I, the point would have been lost anyway.
I am, of course, partial to the Writer's reply as it betrays my own desire to dispense with the niceties of Liberal guilt, and get down to business.

I don't typically write about religion, yet something about the idea of children preachers chills the bones. Democracies, sadly, are about numbers, and they have more babies than we do, and now their babies are at it. It is nice and all to rest happy on our laurels and congratulate ourselves for electing Obama, and thus far he has done an exceedingly brilliant job of disarming the Religious Right--the Rick Warren coup was genius--but the Religious Right are known for their patience (cf. "The Clinton Chronicals" [1994]--a film made by religious political players, which essentially laid the ground for later allegations of Clinton's immorality: the very lines W. ran on, viz. to "restore honor and dignity to the White House."). With a Democratic Senate, House, and Executive, and with Federal judges being appointed, our time to act is now.


[An addendum: Richard Dawkins spoke at Chicago last year, and the tone of the audience was much too reverential; and Dawkins, with his perfectly quaffed hair, seemed too much like the snake-oil salesmen he rails against so fervently. I am no fan of Dawkins, that is.]

http://richarddawkins.net/article,2483,The-Child-Preachers,John-McCarthy-BBC-Radio-4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVoaMlzvGIw&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDT3FCJ3RcE

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