Sunday, October 7, 2012
Dumb, Dumber and Mormon (a guest column rejected by Abilene Reporter-News)
Hard to top a judge who goes on Fox News to warn us that the president means to “hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN,” thereby touching off that apocalyptic race war and national collapse that the paranoid right has always longed for. It is troubling to have a fellow who thinks that way in a position of responsibility. He probably lives in a buried bus. Do not sell him any ammonium nitrate.
My theory on conservative, er, thought has been corroborated a hundred ways since last we spoke of it here. Not that it is really news, mind you – this correlation between conservatism and low intelligence.
For more than 40 years, Republican and conservative candidates have either been dim themselves or panderers to that segment of society that is (if joined, as a rule, by physicians and others wealthy enough to favor the taxation policies of porcine capitalism).
Nowadays the GOP has to cater to a noisy and fervent far right, one that giddily pits itself against science and reason and human rights on multiple fronts. The elderly and spelling-challenged Tea Party represents a frontier where we see the last of what passes for civic organization, and after that it’s the disordered mentality of extremist factions, your neo-so-and-so’s all steeped in hate. As we go along that continuum of more and more conservative, are we finding smarter and smarter people? You decide.
Governor Rick Perry (need I say more?) recently broadcast a speech to his fellow fanatics in which he condemned the idea of separation of church and state as a lie of Satan. Perry has worked tirelessly in the movement to force debatable religious beliefs on the public, quite often showing up to support zealots who are actively violating the rights of their neighbors through school functions. I am surprised he was not on hand in Kountze the other day, to help kids tear up the constitution like so many butcher-paper banners.
God bless those who see that the "no establishment" provision of the Bill of Rights clearly mandated such historic steps as ending compulsory sectarian prayer in public schools and, for another example, banning loudspeaker prayer “in Jesus’ name” at high school football games. Measures like that have been nothing but fair and are lamentable only to those in whom respect for the beliefs of others is utterly lacking.
Me, I try to show respect for other folks’ religions and philosophies, recognizing that I cannot hope to win respect for Buddhism if I don’t – because that is one of those things that just has to go both ways, or else all you get is gridlock. On that basis, I have been involved in the Abilene Interfaith Council for years and have long recommended affirmative recognition of Paganism, Native American spiritualities and Atheism. Those creeds are sort of pending on their roster so far, but the AIC harbors a very progressive attitude – for Abilene. Let’s watch and pray.
Respect is due Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientologists, Hare Krishna folks and whatever other bona fide faith option may come down the old pike. Accordingly, a few years ago I invited the LDS lads right in and gave them bottled water, and bade them return for still more discussion some days later. Mind you, that cordial dialogue did not bring me any closer to believing what they believe; all due respect notwithstanding, I still find a number of their ideas downright laughable, which mirth would turn to uncontrollable sobbing if a Mormon became the leader of the free world.
Obviously, respect for a given religion does not equate to embracing it! Even an interfaith activist and a believer in religious pluralism does not come to a place where he is ready to abandon his own outfit in favor of another. The prospect of my converting to something besides Soka Buddhism brings to mind the Weird Al Yankovic song:
“I’d rather have my blood sucked out by leeches/Shove an ice-pick under a toenail or two/I’d rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my tongue” than recite The Sinner’s Prayer with you.
All religion aside, to quote a lady I met when I was a Hendrick nurse: “I’d rather be swatted across the face with a dead rabbit” than vote Republican.
at 5:23 PM