Word of Man- Right-wing Fodder from the Pages of the Bible

In his book, Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non Religious World, Bishop John Shelby Spong breaks open the Torah and exposes it as the Word of Man rather than the Word of God. I discussed that in the past several posts. I’d like to discuss a fascinating parallel that I discovered between the culture of the Israelites of 400 BCE and the right-wing, fundamental Christian citizens of the United States in the 21st century. A few weeks ago a naive right-wing blogger stated that he was ‘more of an Old Testament Christian.’ Gulp.

As I read farther and farther into Spong’s expose’ of the foundation of the Jewish faith and its effect on the lives of the 4th century BCE Semites of the Middle East, I am struck with parallels between these ancient people and the fundamentalist Christians of the 21st century in our country. Spong does not make that connection, but I do. As I read the story of the people behind the layers of Biblical mythology, I note characteristics of modern-day fundamentalists- especially the political characteristics of the people at the far right end of the political spectrum.

The question arises: does the exposure to Bible stories in Sunday school and the subsequent reading of these stories in adulthood alter the mind-set of modern-day Americans and make them more susceptible to right-wing political ideology? It is already clear to me that Bible literalists  are ripe targets of propagandists simply because they are literalists and believers who obey the instructions of their religious leaders. Our friend, Microdot, calls them victims of a ‘manipulative mind control cult.’ Yet, I think it is important to ask: What ideas and ideals do modern-day Americans absorb from the pages of the Bible? And further: How do these ideals affect their political agenda?

WARMONGERING

During the NBC GOP debate on Monday night in Florida, only Ron Paul disavowed military aggressiveness by our country. In fact, he chastised the others for promoting such a militarist agenda. In South Carolina he was booed for that statement. Yet, what do the pages of the Bible reveal about the Israelites? They were forever sending their armies out to ‘smite their enemies.’ War-heroes became the leaders and the kings. The more foreign wars, the higher the stature of the king. Do the many stories of Israeli war-making in the pages of the Bible justify similar military aggression for our nation?  For the Bible says…

ANTI-SCIENCE

Then there is the other nonsense hyped by the right-wing of the GOP- the anti-science factor. The global climate change ‘myth’ is raw meat for the brethren. ‘Cap and Trade’ drips with blood. Of course, the GOP is in bed with Big Oil, but the right-wing sheep are easy targets for propaganda because of the anti-science myths scattered throughout the pages of the Bible. Recall the most famous anti-science tale of all: Joshua asking God  to answer his prayers by stopping the sun in the sky to allow him more time to slaughter his enemies. Remember that  Galileo was condemned for the “heresy” of suggesting that the earth was not the center of a three-tiered universe.  The Bible was assumed to be accurate and the “Word of God,” was used to seal Galileo’s fate- to be burned at the stake as a heretic!

DISTRUST OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Yet there is even more similarity between the mind-set of the Israelites of that era and today’s right-wing of the GOP. Spong relates that after the many battles that the heroes fought,  ‘the Bible suggests that the Jewish people settled down into a series of closely related regions under the leadership of local judges.’ Spong goes on, “This period in Jewish history is not unlike what’s going on in the modern-day nation of Afghanistan, where real leadership resides in the tribal chiefs, who rule various parts of the nation with an iron hand. These local Jewish judges were in fact the political rulers at that time. The Israelites at this time had searing memories of their oppression at the hands of the Egyptians. Having found freedom, they were now not eager to be submissive to a distant authority again.”

Although this idea of ‘local control’ and ‘disdain of distant authority’ is quite subtle in the passages of the Bible, it nonetheless is obvious to me. Is it a stretch on my part to see a connection between the cautious Israelites who loved local control and the States’ Rights philosophy of today’s right-wing? Spong notes America’s Civil War  73 years after its founding and the ‘civil war’ that broke out with the Jews 80 years after the reign of King David. In  930 BCE the country split into two kingdoms: Israel ( Samaria) in the north and Judah (Jerusalem) in the south.  Both we and they had a group of ‘dissidents’ who balked at a central government, taking up arms against centralized power.

ETHNIC PURITY

The purity laws and kosher dietary laws set by the priestly class during the Babylonian captivity were specifically formulated to set the Jews apart from the non-Jews. Their subsequent ‘cleansing’ upon their release from Babylonia of anyone not of pure Jewish lineage made the Jews an even more exclusive ‘race’ of people. They were especially intolerant of their distant ‘cousins’ the Samarians who they viewed as unpure. Even 400 years later, the famous tale from the New Testament portrays Jesus as nearly a heretic as he talks with the Samarian woman at the well. Of course, she must be portrayed as a whore [‘she had 5 husbands’] yet she lays out the differences between the north and south kingdoms when she states, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Exclusivity by the dominant race.

The so-called ‘Cannanites’ were also looked down upon and in constant ‘war’ with the Jews. Interestingly, modern archaeological studies and modern scholars consider the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to be a subset of Canaanite culture. Yet, the Jews kept their lineage pure by excluding [and warring with] the Cannanites who were, hold your breath, polytheistic! Oh, the shame of it all.

Today the Catholicity of Gingrich and Santorum and the Mormonism of Romney are anathema to many fundamentalist Protestants as they decide on which GOP candidate to support. The purity of Protestantism, that is, fundamentalist Protestantism must be maintained. Do I dare mention Muslims?

Those, then are the parallels that I see between today’s right-wing fundamentalist Republicans and the stories in the Bible of the purification of the Jews. Outsiders need not apply.

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17 thoughts on “Word of Man- Right-wing Fodder from the Pages of the Bible

  1. Do the many stories of Israeli war-making in the pages of the Bible justify similar military aggression for our nation?

    NOPE! You’re way off base here….

    1. You missed my point. That was not the question I raised. Rather, I said that the Bible-thumpers learned throughout their lives that the israelites made war on just about everybody they came into contact with [and vice versa]. War, and mind you, “God’s Holy War,” is justified throughout the O.T.

      It’s an easy step, therefore, for the Bible fundamentalists to ‘believe’ that Holy Wars ought to be fought by the United States as well. How many of these fundamentalists do you suppose, UptheFlag, ‘believed’ that GW Bush’s war on Iraq was just that- a Holy War against the Muslims? How many still have the same mindset when it comes to Iran?

      The Defenders of Israel see it all in terms of Holy Wars. Dangerous, very dangerous mind-control issues.

  2. “…the anti-science factor….”

    If western religion is opposed to science, then explain why the original
    Western christian religion, Roman Catholic, affirms the science of
    evolution. My Jesuit professors of biology, genetics, philosophy, and
    religion taught evolution. The Jesuits..the “hounds of God”

    1. As you recall, my friend, it wasn’t until 1991 that the Vatican officially recanted its excommunication of Galileo. Four hundred years later!

      By the way, the Jesuits cannot be put into the same category as other church ministers, and especially not the Bible-thumping Baptists spread far and wide across The South.

  3. Your key word is “officially”, but de facto it had. And, I am not putting the
    Jesuits in “the same category as other church ministers…” I am referencing
    the “Jesuitical tree” annology. “Don’t put yourself out on the branches of
    a tree because some one can come behind and saw that branch off.”

  4. “Spong notes America’s Civil War 73 years after its founding and the ‘civil war’ that broke out with the Jews 80 years after the reign of King David. In 930 BCE the country split into two kingdoms: Israel ( Samaria) in the north and Judah (Jerusalem) in the south. Both we and they had a group of ‘dissidents’ who balked at a central government, taking up arms against centralized power.”

    There is hardly any comparison between the splitting of the two kingdoms and
    the American Civil War. Talk about being out on end of the branches of
    credibility. In 900 B.C. there was still no state of Israel. They were still
    basically a nomadic tribal communities, sometimes going their own way as
    nomads will and sometimes a ruler will emerge and attempt to bring some
    type of unification. It seems to me that the argument can be easily made
    that kingdom after David and Solomon split away because of religion
    differences. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, supported the God of Moses
    who lived for 120 years around 1300 B.C. This was Yahweh. The Northern
    Kingdom, the 12 tribes of Israel, believed in Baal, which was a very old
    polytheistic community. Moses had to deal with this at the time of his
    receiving the Stone Tablets containing the Commandments of Yhwh. And,
    we know how the story goes. When he comes down with the Tablets, he finds the community had made calf images and were worshipping them. So,
    even 300+ years after Moses it seems the religious issue had not been
    decided. Jerusalem is the center of the Southern Kingdom and survives
    longer than the weaker Northern Kingom, who become known as the 10
    Lost Tribes. As to the American Civil War there is nothing about it being
    caused by religious differences. It was fought over slavery; it
    was an economic War over King Cotton. This is supported by the fact
    that Britain had already developed the factory system, the capitalist free
    enterprise system, and Britain needed Southern cotton for their weaving
    mills. The Southerner believed that the extension of slavery into the new
    territorities petitioning for Statehood had to come in as slave states, but
    they abolitionists believed slavery was a doomed economic system and
    the territories had to come in as Free States. And, we know that Britain
    was on the verge of recognizing the South as an independant nation,
    and to thwart this, Lincoln freed the slaves in 1863. The South had
    enough votes in Congress to prevent the Federal Government from
    interfering with Southern States’ Rights. However, the South lost the
    War and they had to reapply state by state to re-enter the Union. It
    is this period after the Civil War that the issue of States’ Rights begins
    to dominate. Dates are like 1865-1876 for Union Reconstruction and
    1876-1965 as the acme of Southern States’ Rights.

    1. As to the American Civil War there is nothing about it being
      caused by religious differences. It was fought over slavery;

      Correct. Yet, that was not Spong’s point. It was rather that it is often difficult to hold a newly formed nation together and that often there is an internal fight that leads to some sort of secession.

  5. It might be interesting to consider in the manipulative use of christianity and biblical scripture by our political candidates as a basis for the reform of government, to consider the papal states. Newt Gingrich talks about his zero tolerance and all republican candidates speak of their disdain for a judicial system which does not enforce their interpretive use of morality.
    Santorum is hardly even worth speaking about, but he is very important in how the bar of utter insanity and intolerance has been lowered in this brutal idiotic parade of ignorance.
    I have pointed out the theocratic fascism of Brigham Young in Utah when he ruled it like a petty cruel despot. It truly was state terror with executions carried out on a regular basis.
    But the level of terror inspired theocratic fascism unleashed has never really been equalled in modern times by the mass executions in the 19th century by the Catholic Popes. Of course, from the 13th century onward, the political independence of the Papal States enabled the Popes to sentence “dangerous” thinkers to death, but it had been rarely enough used, with in the Papal States until 1800. I’m not sure of the count, check out this wikipedia link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_executed_by_the_Holy_See
    but between 1800 and 1870, there were literally hundreds of victims of the autocratic zero religious tolerance of the popes. The guillotine was introduced by the French around 1816, but the usual methods of papal execution were usually much more creative.

    1. Great historic point, Microdot. I had not known of these papal executions until your link. ‘Love one another’ apparently can get misinterpreted, eh?

      Your phrase, theocratic fascism, comes to mind when I listen to Santorum. Because I am highly intuitive [both a blessing and a curse], I figured out this guy several years ago. Perhaps it is because I’ve been exposed to theocrats for a good part of my life, but I can spot one quickly shortly after they finish their first paragraph.

      All theocrats are an imminent threat to democracy and especially so in a culture dripping with biblical fundamentalism. He’s ‘slick’ too which sends up double red flags. He commands attention immediately by those whose ears have been well-washed with theocratic propaganda all of their lives. Watch that man closely. He’s the most dangerous of the 4 GOP candidates by far!

  6. Interesting, M_R…Would you comment on Ron Paul? Do you agree
    with his foreign policy? I do . Do you agree that Guantanamo should
    be closed? I do…Do you believe the civil courts should be used try
    terrorists or the secretive military courts? I accept the civil courts. Do
    you favor repealing the Patriot Act? I do. Do you think Obama should
    have vetoed the National Defense Reauthorization Act recently passed?
    I do.

  7. We all have points of agreement with Ron Paul, but to me, he is essentially like a broken wristwatch, both are only in synch with reality occasionally.

  8. Well then M_R and MD, you must not then agree with Paul that our freedoms
    and liberties are eroding. There is nothing more pernicious to the American
    Dream in a broader sense than the Patriot Act and the just recently passed
    National Defense Reorganization Act.

      1. Which is one of your typical non answers. So, your in favor then of
        the Government spying on what books you are reading and being turned
        over to military courts? Please list the specific domestic policies of Ron Paul that you do not accept.

        1. He has no specific domestic policies, only a vague dogma. I find the man truly racist, an oily liar. He is a typical politician who personally embraces the things he claims to abhore. I believe he is regressively homophobic and at the core authoritarian rather than libertarian.
          I think his economic ideas are savagely regressive, grounded in an unrealistic fantasy version of the 18th century notion of totally laissez-faire capitalism. It’s like the namesake of his son, Rand…you know Ayn Rand? That is why Rands fictional fantasy version of the nobility of unbridled capitalism as a force for “progress” are embraced by the conservatives.
          They are simplistic fiction which empowers greed and enables the real suppression of our freedom by enabling corporacracy to engulf us.
          I’m sorry, but to me, Paul might come across a likeable guy, but he is offering a Sci Fi version of 10,000 Years BC scenario of unparalleled economic savagery.
          Sure, Dr. Paul seems like a likeable guy. And it’s great that he’s saying things about war, terrorism, and human rights that nobody else will, including Barack Obama. But he wants to lead us into a blood-drenched, kill-or-be-killed world. (Remember when he was willing to let an injured man die because he hadn’t paid his health insurance premium?)
          A bigger point here…what other rights do you think Americans would have been willing to cede…if there had been another domestic terror attack like 9/11 during the Bush administration?
          I made the joke that many people say they agree with Dr. Paul on some issues because he is like a broken clock, right twice a day, but a realisitic person would not run his life with a broken clock…he would get it fixed.

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