Monday, July 25, 2005

Onward Christian Fundamentalist Exclusionary Soldiers...

In a story I heard on World News Tonight, and excerpted below from the Philadelphia Enquirer, we have a group of strict religious fundamentalists called "Christian Exodus" who want to live life exactly the way they interpret things from the Bible. The piece begins with the story of a Pennsylvania family that has moved to South Carolina to be with some other members of this movement:

GREENVILLE, S.C. - Frank and Tammy Janoski, the Pennsylvania pilgrims, have landed.

With their four children, they have settled into a little subdivision in the country, the first transplants of a movement that wants to bring legions of conservative Christians here to turn South Carolina's government into a biblically inspired oasis.

In the South Carolina of their dreams, abortion would be illegal. The Ten Commandments would be proudly displayed. Public schools would be a thing of the past. Taxes would be severely limited, and property rights would be paramount.

Hmmm, sounds like a place Judge Roy Moore would love to visit.

And if the federal government tried to interfere, well, they'd secede.

It would be interesting to see them try something like secession. However, I doubt we'll see such an attempt as shown in the following paragraph:

So far, the Christian Exodus movement has not been a mighty magnet for change. Only four other families have followed the Janoskis' lead, a far cry from the "thousands of Christians" touted on the group's Web site. Even the founder of the group is still in his California home, promising to move in 2006 or 2007.

I doubt very much that the government, even this one run by a bunch of religiously insane nutjobs, would care very much about four families claiming that they are seceding from the union. Plus, it's not exactly a ringing endorsement of your program if your leader isn't out front as your "champion". Maybe this leader is just a scam artist?

Their idea, however, is as old as America: a haven for like-minded people with a government run according to their particular religious lights. Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Utah all got their start as religious sanctuaries.

Which, although a nutty-assed idea, is fine as long as the population remains the same as it was when those states were colonized. But isn't it a bit on the ironic side that the original idea, namely leaving one's home in Europe to escape religious, one-size-fits-all conformity, that this group of knobs is attempting to betray that very principle?

But wait, there's more!

"Historically, evangelical Christianity has had a vacillating relationship with the culture," said James L. Guth, a professor of political science at Furman University here, who has studied the influence of religion on politics. "For much of the 19th century, evangelical Protestants were the culture. A lot of that changed for a while in the 20th century... . They tried to wall themselves off from the culture."

Sort of like how Reverends Falwell and Robertson have done with their fine organizations...

That shift from engagement to withdrawal, known as the Great Reversal, formed the fundamentalist branch of evangelicals. Intent on protecting themselves from such worldly influences as the theory of evolution and the seductions of Hollywood, conservative Christians often cited a biblical injunction: "Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch nothing unclean; then I will welcome you."

Yes, these folks have been plagued throughout the ages by the heresies of evolution and Hollywood's scandalous film industry. It all makes sense now...

That stance began to change by midcentury, as more moderate evangelicals broke from the fundamentalists. And in the 1980s, the emergence of such groups as the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority brought many conservative Christians back into the political fray, invoking Jesus' Sermon on the Mount: " 'You are the salt of the earth... . You are the light of the world... let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.' "

Moderate evangelicals? WTF? There's nothing moderate about their "my way or the highway" attitude. Besides, the last part of the passage reads: "let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven", not "shine your light before others, so that they may see your good works, but should they turn from your light thou should then annoyest thy neighbors, who, being naughty in the eyes of thy Father in heaven, shall snuff it..."

Okay, so I cribbed part of that last bit by paraphrasing the Book of Armaments scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but I think the point is clear.

That Reversal of the Great Reversal, as some scholars call it, is now in full swing. Politically active conservative Christians were crucial to President Bush's election victories in 2000 and 2004, and they are vocal supporters of Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

That last sentence is only partially true. A lot of "politically active conservative Christians" think that President Bungler bent over to the left by selecting someone that they feel isn't sufficiently religiously insane for their liking. But hey, you can't please all the whackjobs...

And now a few words from our founder:

To Cory Burnell, founder of Christian Exodus, that political activity isn't enough. He wants something more radical - a kind of Christian Free State. "We believe that Christ's admonition to go and make disciples of all nations does not exclude any facets of life," Burnell said by telephone from his Valley Springs, Calif., home. "We're asking people to move and do something new. Our intent is to put men in office who will do what [ousted Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice] Roy Moore did - defy the federal government."

And, lest we forget, Judge Moore lost his case because luckily, there are still judges in this country who know what separation of church and state means.

The group's goal is to have 2,500 members in two upstate counties by September 2006, and as many as 12,000 by 2008. That, Burnell said, would be enough to elect local candidates and snowball into a statewide force. Soon, enough right-thinking officials would be elected to force a confrontation with the feds.

Snowball effect! WOO-HOO!!! I'm now giddy with antici...pation!!!!!

"We are proponents of federal conflict," Burnell said. "People ought to stand up, they ought to flirt with arrest." Burnell, 29, used to be a regional director in Texas for the League of the South, a secessionist organization. Robert Hayes, director of the league in South Carolina, said his group is working with Christian Exodus on the "common goal of self-government."

Two words for you, Mr. Burnell and Mr. Hayes: David Koresh. Any more nutty ideas?

The last time South Carolina seceded from the union was Dec. 20, 1860, lighting the fuse that touched off the Civil War. This time, Burnell figures secession, if necessary, could be peaceful. He admits the state could not fight the U.S. military. "I don't think it will come to bloodshed," he said. "I think it will come to compromise."

That last sentence may be the sanest thing Burnell said in this report.

Many South Carolinians, including conservatives, are skeptical about the new group. "It doesn't seem to be the kind of thing that would have much impact," said Bob Taylor, a Greenville County councilman who is also a dean at Bob Jones University, the fundamentalist Christian college here. Active in Republican politics, Taylor said that "even the conservative religious right is not where they want to go."

Wow, when a dean at Bob Jones University harshes your plans, you'd better know that those plans suck bigtime.

And Taylor said of the notion of secession, "That didn't turn out so well the last time, did it?"

No sir, it did not. But note the final irony that an extreme-right fundamentalist Christian group's plans to set up shop in one of the notches of the Bible Belt doesn't seem to thrill the locals. That is a telling sign that this group may be doomed to obscurity, but these days, one never knows, does one?

Full crazy story:

Here's an idea: Maybe these gimps can hook up with the anti-evolution crowd in Kansas!

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