By Doug Newman

March 3, 2008

Posted at Novakeo, Price of Liberty and  Freedom4um.

I have heard it said that “God wants spiritual fruits and not religious nuts.” I was reminded of this last week when someone e-mailed asking my opinion of Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka.

Phelps and his followers are thoroughly sick and hateful people. These people are well-known for showing up at rallies and funerals with banners saying things like “God hates fags”, “AIDS cures fags”, “Thank God for dead soldiers” and for thanking God for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. These people positively exude hatred. They just drip with it.

Their upside, if there is one, is that they only number about 150. And people have the good sense to hate on them correspondingly. Their size and influence are about equal to that of America’s most hated haters, the Ku Klux Klan. Their danger is in direct proportion to their microscopic numbers. This is a good thing, as social ostracism is far more powerful than laws and litigation in curtailing bad behavior.

However, Phelps and his crew are hardly the most obnoxious Christians in America. This dubious honor belongs to a group numbering in the millions, 99.44% of whom are far more polite and civil.

I speak of the big government groupies in the Religious Right. They are absolutely everywhere. And while their personal behavior may be far more desirable, the real-world implications of their beliefs are positively gruesome.

They positively FREAK OUT over things like The DaVinci Code, but are either in total denial or in total support of America’s bobsled ride into totalitarianism. They recklessly pervert Scripture in order to justify the total state.

They want you to think that Jesus’ instruction to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's” – Luke 20:25 – means that we should give unto Caesar everything Caesar demands and then siddown and shuddup.

They want you to think that Romans 13 commands unquestioning obedience to secular government. Never mind that the Bible contains numerous examples of civil disobedience. Never mind that Paul, the author of Romans, was a chronic jailbird who wrote four of his Epistles while behind bars.

They zealously support a police state at home and unprovoked war abroad. Indeed, several thousand pastors have been recruited to participate on “clergy response teams”, whose job will be to quell dissent in the event of martial law. Never mind that Jesus only initiated force one time – when He kicked the money changers out of the Temple – and that He had no political purpose for doing so.

I used to be fond of telling left-wing secular liberals, who wanted the government to solve all their problems, that there was a place 90 miles south of Key West where they did things their way. Now, I think I should start telling right-wing Christian conservatives who have no problem with unlimited government that there is a place 90 miles south of Key West where they do things their way. Such is their state of denial about reality of life under the unrestrained state.

I have a bit of philosophy that goes as follows: When you let people do anything they want, you get Woodstock. But when you let government do anything it wants, you get Auschwitz. Rhetoric and intentions matter not. The results are the same.

While GW Bush – the hero of these millions of Christians – is a lot of bad things, he is not Hitler. We still have a measure of freedom in this country. However, he has put in place numerous laws and executive orders that send what was left of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in 2001 through the shredder and allow him to assume dictatorial power should he decide, if you will, it to be necessary. Some of Hitler’s strongest support was from Christians. And it wasn’t just Catholics either. Of the 14,000 churches in Germany, over 13,000 pledged allegiance to Hitler.

There is a phenomenal book by Erwin Lutzer entitled Hitler's Cross: The Revealing Story of How the Cross of Christ Was Used As a Symbol of the Nazi Agenda. It goes into great detail describing how the great majority of German Christians cavalierly gave away their freedom. The parallels between Germany in the 1930s and post-9/11 America ought to make your skin crawl.

I am not going to do a Fred Phelps and rejoice in the death of William F. Buckley. I was a big Buckley fan until 1992, when I could no longer support his big government conservatism as it was identical to big government liberalism. Even after that, I still enjoyed his wit and his command of the English language. Big government is big government and total government is total government, regardless of rhetoric.

In 1952, the young Buckley wrote, we have got to accept Big Government for the duration -- for neither an offensive nor a defensive war can be waged...except through the instrumentality of a totalitarian bureaucracy within our shores."

Buckley endorsed "large armies and air forces, atomic energy, central intelligence, war production boards and the attendant centralization of power in Washington..."

As Rush Limbaugh says, words mean things. It is easy to support unfettered government when your own interests are not at stake. Limbaugh was all for the Drug War until he himself developed a jones and found himself in the crosshairs of the authorities. Again and again, I hear Christians say they will gladly give up their freedom to the Bush administration. Will these same people so nonchalantly surrender their liberty to, say, a Klinton or an Obama administration?

John Lofton edits a page called The American View that deals with, among other things, the danger of this unholy alliance between the Religious Right and the Republican Party. Lofton is fond of saying that he was “raptured” out of the GOP. He writes:

“We are seriously concerned about, deeply grieved by and lament the fact that far too many of today’s so-called ‘Christian leaders’ are a sinful embarrassment and are responsible for the cause of Christ being mocked and ridiculed. By being, first, cheerleaders for the Republican Party, they have dishonored their Lord and sold their Christian birthright for a mess of partisan political pottage. These individuals and organizations are Christian in name only, ‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ From such, it is added, we must turn away. (II Timothy 3:5)

Secular, Christless conservatism — even when it is supposedly ‘compassionate’ — will not defeat secular, Christless liberalism because to God they are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and, thus, predestined to failure.”

Whether he knew it or not, the Apostle Paul prophesied the contemporary Religious Right in II Corinthians 11:13-15:

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”

Not only do these jerks for Jesus cause Christianity to be mocked and ridiculed, they promote mass deception within the church and, even worse, alienate God knows how many people from coming into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is a far greater tragedy.

Email. I get email. I get lots and lots of email...

2 Timothy 4: -- In the last days people will ... stop listening to the truth and will be delivered to myths. And they will kill us, thinking they are serving God. So sad... -- SC in Wyoming

A bull's-eye appraisal of the apostate American Church.

I ran into an acquaintance from a conservative Presbyterian church (I used to attend but left 4 years ago) while voting for Ron Paul yesterday. He asked about things church related. I told him I had not been to a denominational church in almost 2 years and doubted that I would be going back. He asked why.

I then said that the support for war criminal GWBush was despicable. That all denominational churches I knew of were state churches as 501c3 corporations and were muzzled.

He wigged out and was speechless. The truth will do such, as you well know. -- N in Texas

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Freely Speaking: Essays by Doug Newman