This country is witnessing a massive revival of conservative religious extremism. The various forms of fundamentalist Christianity are among the most bizarre, militant, insane, and cruel forms ever to evolve. You see, there is evolution.
Two fundamentalist Christians, Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins, have written "novels" in which Jesus comes back, in their literal interpretation of Revelations, slaughtering and torturing millions of unbelievers. They have just completed their twelfth book. Millions and millions of copies have been sold. Fanatical Christians consider it to be “their” literature. It features a naïve and ridiculous concept of “the rapture,” whereby Christians ascend directly into heaven. Their bodies just vanish out of airplanes and automobiles. In one film’s depiction of the rapture, a man’s clothing was found neatly placed on the seat of his empty pick-up truck! Apparently, there is still some curiosity remaining in these dogma-intoxicated minds, since they don’t know whether dental fillings will ascend too. Nor are they sure about hair and nails—wow, doesn’t that show real humility?
It has been estimated that there are over 100 million re-born Christians in America today. Many of them are bible worshipping bigots, openly criticizing alternative lifestyles, women, gays and lesbians. Some carry political signs that read: “All faggots will burn in hell.” These are extremists, but even the less conservative ones dislike gays and lesbians. Misogyny and homophobia have always been common Christian themes, from Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, to the Pope, who, by the way, according to some Seventh Day Adventists, is the anti-christ. I am disappointed, as I hoped to have earned that title for myself.
What I find amusing is the “holy” bible’s justification for tidbits of hate. Somehow, hanging onto misogyny and homophobia is okay with “God.” I wonder, is this the same God as in “under God,” spoken in our pledge of allegiance? Is it Bush’s “Heavenly Father?” Surely you know the answer. What ever happened to “love thy neighbor?” Scripture is a Rorschach blot; you find whatever you need, you see whoever you are.
These religious quacks are just getting started. Their constituents are politicians, teachers, professors, businessmen, ministers, lawyers, programmers, generals, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, theologians, scientists, judges, bishops, and our very president--people from all walks of life. And they are well funded.
Just the other day in a Palm Springs supermarket, I was looking at a picture of Rumsfeld in the newspaper. I remarked to an older woman that I hope Bush does not get re-elected. She turned to me and said that Jesus had saved her 35 years ago. She said that the anti-christ was coming any day now and to be prepared. I said, do you want me to show you the anti-christ? I then pointed to Rumsfeld’s picture. I told her to remember that her messiah counseled not to pray in public with the hypocrites. I don’t think she heard, but I was trying to say, gently, stay away from whatever church has abducted your mind. It is no coincidence that Bush won his election with over 40% of his votes coming from the religious right.
The Christian right is wrong. They envision the United States as “one nation under God.” Which God, the Judeo-Christian God? Or, is it just plain God? I do not find the term “God” to be benign. Did you know that one of Hitler’s most powerful and common slogans was, “for God and country?” Sound familiar? I am sick of hearing “God Bless America.” This notion, this word, “God,” is a loaded term. It is the outcome, primarily, of Judeo-Christian-Islamic dualistic religious theologies. These theologies all share the same basic God, a male Cosmic Bully.
The Christian right’s militant goal is to turn the US into a Christian country. Do not be fooled by semantics, their effort is to eventually raise Jesus into a national messiah. First, get the Old Testament “God” in the front door, then later Jesus can be easily assimilated without much trouble. And they are doing that successfully. Bush manipulatively uses his own claims as a re-born Christian to move our country in this disastrous direction.
Are you aware that the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has biblical plaques placed on its federally owned land? This is a scandal. Our nation’s separation of church and state is being dismantled. In the Grand Canyon visitors center bookstore, you will also find a book called Grand Canyon: A Different View, written by a fundamentalist, who claims that the Grand Canyon came about through Noah’s flood, and that it can’t be more than three thousand years old! This ludicrous explanation, born of one man’s religious fantasies, is something that he is entitled to believe, certainly, but to have displayed in the visitor’s center of a federal park?
What about Hindu and Buddhist theories of creation, Taoist and Shinto ones, Afro-American and Australian aboriginal views? If any religious view is to be represented in that park, and all of our other federal parks, it should be that of our Native American Peoples. Realistically, though, shall we turn the Grand Canyon bookstore into one of various, religious perspectives? I am a believer in freedom of speech, but how in the world did that book arrive in the visitor’s center of the Grand Canyon National Park, a park that prides itself on its geological and scientific knowledge?
Since this controversy began, the Grand Canyon Park had to search their records to see when the plaques had actually been accepted, and under what conditions. The park investigation revealed that no files were found, which suggests that the nuns who donated them did it without the park’s formal consent. In the summer of 2003, the plaques were rightfully removed by the park’s wise superintendent, Joseph Alston. This may seem hard to believe, but, in the very same month, Deputy Director Donald Murphy overruled Mr. Alston’s intelligent and considerate decision, ordering the re-installation of the plaques! So now we have a federal park displaying a religious perspective. This incident is similar to the Alabama travesty, where the ten commandments were placed at the Alabama Supreme Court Building. The man who did that, a judge himself, is now carrying his religious mission into a political career. Militant behavior has always been a fundamental characteristic of the Judeo-Christian religion. It appears that Christianity is an inherently violent religion.
I wrote to the Grand Canyon National Park, stating that, until the book, an obvious “Trojan horse” to spread fundamentalist Christian propaganda, and the plaques are removed, I will not visit their beautiful park. Apparently, the matter is “under further investigation” in Washington, D.C., but it is obvious (to me) that there is no room for discussion when it comes to placing religious articles on federal land, whether they were human gifts or floated down from the heavens. This is what is now happening in our country.
America, simultaneously, is witnessing an unprecedented use of anti-depressant drugs. The most popular ones are Prozac and Zoloft. They offer a different form of stupor, giving rise to a synthetically modified psycho-perceptual experience. These drugs are powerful mood modulators, with a list of side-effects. If you want one, just go to your doctor and say you feel “depressed.” That is the magic word.
Did you know, according to current medical theory, that sadness has nothing to do with human vulnerability, but is actually a “chemical imbalance” in your brain? You will be given a pill to “correct” this imbalance. If you are not sure about the origins of sadness, you can be certain of this, that these powerful anti-depressants are making pharmaceutical companies rich beyond belief.
Have you considered the relationship between loneliness and love? Has it ever occurred to you that it is part of your sacred humanness to feel sad, lonely, or depressed? The other day I saw a brilliant bumper sticker. It said, “I used to care, but now I take a pill for that.” Human beings are quickly losing the thought-remnants of what it means to be healed, whole, and holy.
What do you suppose would have been Buddha’s fate had he been offered Prozac? I am sure Christianity would have been ecstatic—just think, no Buddhism! Of course, Buddha, being who he was, would have turned it down, since he also trashed the fundamentalist Hindu propaganda of his day. Instead, he prized above all else, the fervor to understand the nature of his own suffering.
The current medical remedy for sadness, depression, and loneliness is to chemically alter your awareness for a pharmaceutical high. And there are literally millions of Americans who cannot cope with their emotions or psychologies, using these powerful psycho-active drugs on a daily basis.
We are guilty of Bush’s war crimes, for the many deaths in Iraq. Our hands are smeared with oil, the way Lady Macbeth’s were with blood. We are sick, mentally, emotionally and physically for ingesting poisoned air and drinking treated water, for eating crops sprayed with lethal pesticides. We are a sickened and spiritually bankrupt country. That is why we run to our doctors for mood elevating pills. That is why we run to our bible for literal answers. We have a guilty collective consciousness. We seek to appease these feelings by becoming addicted to euphoric religious fantasies and exhilarating drugs. We are fast becoming a nation of pharmaceutical addicts. When you can no longer think, and feel, natively, spontaneously, intelligently, in your humanness, you risk becoming the pawn in someone’s zealous religious plan. You lose your Heart.
Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson will take you by the hand, have you kneel in front of Jesus. Or, if that’s not your style, just make a confession to your medical doctor, in private, admitting to depression, and he’ll do the rest. You’ll be offered a quick and painless rapture, one with Jesus, who will lift you right out of your Lexus at any moment, or the even more direct path of instantaneous Prozac realization. And I have not mentioned the topic of alcohol-fueled America (a topic for another essay), which is a vaster epidemic than the above two combined.
American judgment is so cloudy, so stuporous, that Bush has a 50% chance of winning the next presidential election (according to recent polls). Americans are not fascinated that he and his administration lied themselves into a country rich in oil fields. We have been lied to over and over again, yet it fails to register in the American psychology. Bush claimed several months ago to have “won” the Iraq war. We have an administration of religious, pathological liars. One of the political strategies of the Bush administration has been to create The Villain, The Evil One, Saddam Hussein, whose capture has cost almost 1000 young American lives. Americans swallowed the “villain psychology” deception, hook, line, and sinker. Yet, we never hear anything about the Chinese occupation of Tibet, which has gone on for decades now. I guess we don’t want to pick on too big a “Villain” to free a country and its peoples. We are too cautious and calculating for that, too cowardly. But we may be in for a big surprise about winning this war anytime soon.
Bush spoke to his “Heavenly Father,” prior to invading Iraq. I guess his “Heavenly Father” said, “go.” Have you realized that Bush, on the one hand, cannot speak several coherent sentences consecutively, and on the other, has a direct and personal connection to the Judeo Christian God?
I dare say that the real reason we are in Iraq, even more essential than oil, is Bush’s Christianity. His megalomaniacal goal is to Christianize the Mideast. To read a politician like Bush, you need to intuit the innuendos, hints, and slurs. He once said that he did not consider atheists and agnostics to be US citizens. Our president is on a religious crusade. He receives instructions from God to slaughter “evil tyrants” and their followers. I do not say terrorists, because, it has now become obvious to me that, witnessing our ugly presence in Iraq, in our torturing of Iraqi prisoners, we share that title with those who blew up the World Trade Center towers.
Religious fanaticism and the pharmaceutical industry are a lethal combination. Many of our medical doctors are whores to the pharmaceutical industry, just as our theologians are whores to the bible. They both conspire to numb our sensibilities. Unless Americans throw their Zoloft and Prozac into the toilet bowl, and start to think about the bible as pure literature and fiction, I am not very optimistic about where this country is going.