Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Up on God


















Kathleen Parker, the conservative columnist who raised the ire of many Republicans during the election by eviscerating Sarah Palin in print, publishes a very interesting article today on the Republican Party's lack of church/party divide, claiming that if they want to return to prominence, the G-O-P needs to "dump" G-O-D.

The entire text is below or can be read at its original Washington Post source here.


As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

Meanwhile, it isn't necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world's architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won't get whiter. And the nonreligious won't get religion through external conversion. It doesn't work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base -- or the nation may need a new party.

3 Comments:

Blogger Peter T Chattaway said...

Let me know when, say, black churches get this kind of scrutiny from the Democrats. (Well, okay, Obama did dump his church after it began to prove more harmful than helpful to his "cred".)

10:02 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Delahunt (POD) said...

I found this article by Michael Reagan offered an excellent counterpoint to Mrs. Parker's column. Text is below:



http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?print=yes&id=29580


"Balkanized Party"

Before the Republican Party even begins to think about curing what ails it, members have to recognize the fact that the party is Balkanized.

We are never going to win elections if we remain broken up into separate factions, sometimes barely speaking to one another. Bizarre as it seems, each group within this Balkanization of the GOP is united in the belief that Ronald Reagan is its standard bearer.

This, they tell us, is the man they want to follow. Ronald Reagan was not someone who found ways to disagree with you, but spent most of his life trying to find ways to agree with you.

He always sought to find a common ground -- to move the party and the country forward. A lot of Republicans quote his statement that we must not let the bad be the enemy of the good. But today’s Republican Party is wedded to allowing the bad to be the enemy of the good.

As a result, we don’t win elections. I may agree with you on taxation, for example. Or I may agree with you on immigration. If I disagree with you on abortion, however, I may just stay home on Election Day, or not vote for you; I might even vote for your opponent.

As a result, we end up electing the candidate who disagrees with us on taxation, a person who disagrees with us on immigration, and also disagrees with us on abortion and everything else. We excuse this exercise in irrationality by claiming we want to make a statement.

It’s the same thing with immigration. I agree with you on abortion, I agree with you on taxation, I agree with you on the war in Iraq, but I disagree with you on immigration. So I’m going to stay home on Election Day and help our opponents -- who disagree with us on everything else -- win.

That sound you hear in the background is my dad rolling over in his grave.

This is Balkanization at its worst. The Republican Party is broken up into a lot of large pockets nursing our own prejudices and our own grudges, and unwilling to accept the other guy’s opinion if he doesn’t agree with us on every issue 100 percent of the time. So we break up into factions, allowing a single issue to divide us when we agree on everything else.

In your own family, among your spouse and your children, there is never perfect agreement on everything all the time, yet you all get along and present a united front when facing outsiders.

In the Republican Party, however, it seems we find reasons not to get along, and not to present a united front in the face of our opponents. Instead, we need to find reasons to get along and move this party forward regardless of our differences.

That’s what Ronald Reagan did -- as Ronald Reagan, citizen; as Ronald Reagan, governor of California; and as Ronald Reagan, president of the United States of America. He had his views on certain issues, but he didn’t take your opposite view and string you up with it and say he’d never support you because he disagreed with you on a single issue.

My dad always looked at the glass as being half full, and never as half empty as so many of us do nowadays. And until we get back to a positive message about moving this country forward, and find a way to unite ourselves, we’ll never be able to unite the nation behind our party.

We are further Balkanized by becoming a party of personalities. We are attaching ourselves to certain individuals, and as a result we have become a party of people and not a party of principles. We are Romney-ites, or Huckabee or Giuliani devotees, or McCain-ites, or supporters of Gov. Sarah Palin -- when we need to be just plain Republicans.

In the Balkans, warfare between factions was the status quo. As Republicans, if we continue to Balkanize and fail to unite, then fighting one another will be our party’s status quo.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Matthew Delahunt (POD) said...

Another brilliant article in text below. It pretty much defines my personal version of conservatism:


http://www.americanthinker.com/printpage/?url=http://www.americanthinker.com/2008/11/a_libertarian_defense_of_socia.html


November 23, 2008
A Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatism
By Randall Hoven

Social conservatism is taking a beating lately. Not only did it lose in the recent elections, it is being blamed for the Republican losses. If only the religious right would get off the Republican Party's back, the GOP could win like it is supposed to again. I beg to differ.


I'm anything but a social conservative. In nine presidential elections, I voted Libertarian in six. I am a hard core "limited government" conservative/libertarian; I want government out of my pocket-book and out of my bedroom. Concerning my religion, it's none of your business, but I'm somewhere in the lapsed-Catholic-deist-agnostic-atheist spectrum; let's just call it agnostic.


Having said all that, I have no problem with "social conservatives" or the "religious right" and their supposed influence on the Republican party. I base this not on the Bible or historical authority, but on the love of liberty and the evidence of my own eyes.


Who are the true liberty killers?


The most obvious point to me is that it is the do-gooding liberals who are telling us all what we can and can't do. The religious right usually just wants to be left alone, either to home school, pray in public or not get their children vaccinated with who-knows-what. Inasmuch as the "religious right" wants some things outlawed, they have failed miserably for at least the last 50 years. Abortion, sodomy, and pornography are now all Constitutional rights. However, praying in public school is outlawed, based on that same Constitution.


Just think for a moment about the things you are actually forced to do or are prevented from doing. Seat belts. Motorcycle helmets. Bicycle helmets. Smoking. Gun purchase and ownership restrictions. Mandatory vaccines for your children. Car emissions inspections. Campaign ad and contribution restrictions. Saying a prayer at a public school graduation or football game. Trash separation and recycling. Keeping the money you earned. Gas tax. Telephone tax. Income tax. FICA withholding. Fill in this form. Provide ID.


For the most part, the list just cited is post-1960. Neither Pat Robertson nor James Dobson ever forced any of that on us.


How powerful is "social conservatism"?


I can get pornography right at my keyboard, or drive a mile and get all the sex toys I can fit into my car. I can walk to the nearest casino to gamble (but can no longer smoke there). I do need to travel to Nevada for a legal prostitute. If my teenage daughters had wanted abortions, they could have had them free and without even notifying me. (However, had they taken Advil to school, we'd all be in trouble.)


Drugs


There is one thing I can think of that is actually outlawed and that the religious right wants outlawed: illegal drugs. But the criminalization of drugs enjoys broad bipartisan support; it is not exactly an issue owned by the religious right. Last I heard, 70% of those polled wanted to keep drugs outlawed.


But recall that in the Supreme Court decision that ruled against medical marijuana, Gonzales v. Raich, it was the "social conservative" contingent of Rehnquist and Thomas who dissented. Clarence Thomas began his dissent as follows .


Respondents Diane Monson and Angel Raich use marijuana that has never been bought or sold, that has never crossed state lines, and that has had no demonstrable effect on the national market for marijuana. If Congress can regulate this under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything-and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers.


I'll take that kind of "social conservatism" all I can. It sounds like freedom to me.


It was also the very conservative William Buckley at the very conservative National Review (and who was not alone among conservatives) who said this to the New York Bar Association:


I leave it at this, that it is outrageous to live in a society whose laws tolerate sending young people to life in prison because they grew, or distributed, a dozen ounces of marijuana. I would hope that the good offices of your vital profession would mobilize at least to protest such excesses of wartime zeal, the legal equivalent of a My Lai massacre. And perhaps proceed to recommend the legalization of the sale of most drugs, except to minors.


Abortion


Let's talk about the unavoidable issue: abortion. Who made it a federal issue? The ACLU and then the Supreme Court. Before 1973 it was left to the states; some allowed it, some didn't. Different states could adopt different criteria. Some might allow it under all circumstances. Some other none. Some at 12 or 20 weeks. Some might define "health" of the mother in different terms.


But all that flexibility was halted with Roe v Wade. Since 1973 abortion has been a Constitutional right. Do you know where that right is found in the Constitution? In these words of the 14th Amendment: "[No state shall] deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Those words, according to our finest Constitutional scholars, mean it's OK to shove scissors through the skull of a baby and suction its brains out, as long as that skull has not yet left the birth canal. I'm sure you see that in those words of the 14th Amendment. Look hard, into the penumbras and emanations - it might take a little imagination.


Regardless of what you think about abortion, to find it in the 14th Amendment is an act of ink-blot reasoning. It might almost be OK, if it meant the court said we have true sovereignty over our own bodies. But the court explicitly said otherwise.


The privacy right involved, therefore, cannot be said to be absolute. In fact, it is not clear to us that the claim asserted by some amici that one has an unlimited right to do with one's body as one pleases bears a close relationship to the right of privacy previously articulated in the Court's decisions. The Court has refused to recognize an unlimited right of this kind in the past... We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified...


So you do not have the right to do with your body as you please. Neither women nor men own their own bodies. That's what Roe v Wade said. In short, the decision was not "pro-choice". It was pro-abortion, pure and simple. That is the only choice it protected.


If taking abortion out of the hands of the federal government and putting it back into hands of the states, where it is legislated per each state's popular sentiment, let it be. I can stand that kind of "social conservatism." It sounds like federalism and democracy to me.


Guns


Now let's talk about guns. Why is that a "social" issue? We're talking about the Bill of Rights here. You know, where we find the freedom of speech, freedom of the press, religious freedom, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures, no cruel and unusual punishments or excessive bails, etc. The right to keep and bears arms is No. 2 of 10. This is a right the "religious right" wants to keep, not take away. If you keep your gun in your bedroom, it is the religious right that wants the government to stay out of your bedroom. Who is treading on whose rights here?


Gay Marriage


I am not dead set against gay marriage. I'm mildly against it, but if it comes to an honest vote in my state and passes, I can live with that. But so far, every single time the issue has gone to a popular vote, the people voted it down. The only reason it is legal in two states right now is because of the courts in those states; a mere handful of robed Merlins made the decisions.


I also think it a bit risky to redefine such a fundamental institution that has been defined as between one man and one or more women in every successful civilization I know about, for the last 6,000 years or so. How about we use federalism and the states as laboratories before we dive head-first into opaque water on this one?


God


I must say, even as an agnostic, something is creepy about a government that outlaws Nativity scenes at City Hall, but subsidizes Piss Christ. That tries to disband the Boy Scouts but promotes gay marriage. That disallows even voluntary, student-led prayer at public school, but teaches children how to put on condoms.


What is so funny about Bill Maher's Religulous? What is so bad about Sarah Palin hoping to do God's will or praying for His guidance?


I am not religious myself, but I kind of like the idea that whoever makes and enforces our laws thinks that some invisible being knows his every move and will judge him accordingly in eternity. I would not be offended if the being he prays to is the one who gave the Sermon on the Mount.


I have yet to see the absence of religious devotion replaced with true scientific rationalism. Instead, I see it replaced with Environmentalism, Marxism, New Age "spiritualism" or any of a host of other pseudo-religions. On the other hand, Isaac Newton, for my money the greatest scientist ever and one of our more rational thinkers, wrote way more about the Bible and God than he ever did about calculus, mechanics and optics combined. There is nothing inconsistent between science and religion or reason.


By the way, I know enough about rationalism to know this: anyone who thinks he practices it rigorously has no idea what he's talking about. Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead are famous for taking a thousand pages to prove, with rigorous logic, that one and one are two (I'll trust them on that). How can anyone with an ounce of humility, or real sense, think he knows the "rational" method of improving the lot of mankind? Lenin and Mao thought they knew, as they sent tens of millions to their graves in the effort.


Mythical Creatures


I'm still searching for the mythical creature that is the "financially conservative, socially liberal" politician. In virtually every case, the pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage politician is the first to vote against a tax cut, the first to vote for more spending and quick to compromise principles on any issue there is.


Using the National Journal's ratings of Senators in 2007 , the correlation coefficient between "economic" scores and "social" scores is 90%. That means they almost always go together; financial conservatives are social conservatives and vice versa. Every Senator scoring above 60 in economic issues, scored above 50 in social ones. Every Senator scoring below 40 in economic issues, scored below 50 in social ones. If there is such an animal as a "financial conservative, social liberal", it does not exist in the US Senate.


Humility and hubris


Finally, there is the concept of small "c" conservative. While we should make some changes in our institutions so that we can evolve, as F.A. Hayek might describe, toward a better society, we should also be careful. Don't change everything at once, for example. Try a few things incrementally and see how they turn out. Maybe we should consider "evidence based" government.


We should be especially careful in tinkering with the most successful society ever to exist on this planet. I would hope I wouldn't have to defend that claim. By 1969 we put man on the moon and brought him back safely. We were the richest and most free country on earth. Immigrants flocked to our shores. We had defeated some of the most despicable regimes in history. Our schools were the envy of the world and our people produced more patents than any other country.


Shouldn't we have some humility about changing the most fundamental institutions that got us to that point? Things like traditional marriage, the nuclear family, schools, private property, the free market and the Bill of Rights? That is not to say we don't change them at all. But let's be careful, incremental and be prepared to change the change. Do not throw out the baby with the bathwater.


It was communism that tried to change everything all at once. Karl Marx described the approach in the Communist Manifesto.


"Abolition of private property. ... Abolition of the family! ... Communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality ... this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads ... In short, the Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things."


The Soviets said they would create the "new man." Pol Pot wanted change so drastic he set his revolution in the "year zero." The results were 100 million dead, prison camps, re-education camps and boat people. These new societies, new men, and new calendars did not last.


Liberty


When the day comes that the only thing between me and liberty are some Bible-quoting know-it-alls, I'll reconsider. But right now, there are a lot of things between me and liberty, and the "religious right" is not one of them. In fact, I see them voting for more liberty, not less. If the Republican Party ever decides it really wants to be the party of liberty, rather than the slower-road-to-socialism party, I'll gladly join the religious right there.

8:28 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Ut In Omnibus Glorificetur Deus