Friday, February 25, 2011

Conservitanity: The New American Religion

Two stories came across my computer screen this week that speak to something I have been saying on this blog for awhile. One is a story from Politico detailing a speech given by former Senator Rick Santorum about "Christian Values" and the other a blog posting by Robert P. Jones of the Public Religious Research Institute discussing the strong connection between the Tea Party and the Religious Right. Each of these stories bring to light a phenomenon in American Christianity that has been going on for about a decade (although it could be longer). This phenomenon is the conjoining of post 9/11 pseudo-patriotism which I discuss here and a form of conservative pseudo-Christianity into something I call Conservitanity.

This new American religion focuses solely on Conservative religious topics like homosexuality and abortion while ignoring Biblical topics like poverty and justice. This aspect of Conservitanity has been going on for decades beginning with the Moral Majority in the late 1970s. Conservitanity not only agrees with all conservative political ideologies, like tax cuts for the wealthiest 10%, but it also attempts to use Biblical proof-texting to make the claim that their ideas are not just of human design, but are also Divinely inspired rendering them inerrant. Conservitanity calls these ideals "core American values" and any critique of these ideals is not only an attack on America, but on Christendom itself. (See Santourum's speech above.) It is the duty of the followers of Conservitanity to champion these ideals to every corner of the world, violently if necessary. (Remember when Bush call the "War on Terrorism" a "crusade.")This is the new movement in Conservative America and while the pawns on the ground scream and shout about birth certificates and Muslims those pulling the strings (I'm looking at your Koch Brothers) run off with all the money.

Another aspect of Conservitanity is the purity of the past. One must maintain that the United States as a nation and Christianity as a religion have perfect records and any nasty little dark spots (slavery, Native American genocide, the Crusades, the Inquisition to name a few) must be white washed from memory. Conservitanity begins the process by changing the history books and by reminding the people of a past that never existed.

Karl Marx called religion the "opiate of the people" meaning that the people's beliefs in a higher power kept them quiet and satisfied while the controlling bourgeoisie used them for their own gain. Conservitanity has the same idea. While the people are mesmerized by the displays of Conservitanity in the form of red, white, and blue displays in the bookstores and aerial fly overs and while they spend their time "defending" their country against the "evil" liberals, Muslims, illegal immigrants, and non-white people in general they do not notice that the income disparity has grown by obscene amounts. If someone points this out to a follower of Conservitanity they are automatically labeled a socialist, Marxist, or liberal any of which are "bad." We can see the beginnings of this with the Park 51 or "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy and the neo-McCarthyian Muslim witch hunts heading by Rep. Peter King of NY.

Look in almost every facet of American life and you can see the creation of Conservitanity. It's clergy include Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and others. Although it contains elements of Christianity and it uses the name of God and Jesus many times it is nothing more than an idol. Conservitanity is dangerous when political ideology becomes so intertwined with religious beliefs than the two are indistinguishable from one another, especially when its followers are armed.

Addendum: One criticism of my post is that the Left does something similar. This very well might be the case and I would invite you to gather your evidence and make your case. Politics is not a zero sum game, just because one side has problems does not mean the other side is without problems.


Pastor Chris Roberts said...

Well abortion and homosexuality are two hotton button issues in the culture but our UMC refuses to get involved in those issues. I agree that we can't solely focus on those issues and forget the rest. We should advocate on behalf of the poor and needy. Yet we cannot completely ignore these two issues, especially because our UMC Social Principles are "conservative" on these matters. GBCS should be advocating, whether we agree or disagree, because that is what the Discipline clearly states. That isn't really a conservative vs liberal matter, it is a matter of representing the full social witness of the Gospel.

Anonymous said...

abortion is a given even though polls seems to indicate a growing anti abortion trend among younger generations. unless either side compromises we can't move forward. perhaps some abortions could nvolve anesthetic for the fetus as well as the mother. as for homosexuality, there is an unstoppable move toward fiull equality and if the UMC doesn't embrace that we will be left behind.