A Circus of Faith (Part of the Christ Weary series):
Here's what the Rude Pundit wants hangin' in every courthouse, in every statehouse, in every outhouse in Uhmerka: a big, bloody, flesh-stripped, weeping Mel Gibson-approved Jesus, nailed to that motherfuckin' cross. He wants it to be there next to the flag in the IRS offices, in the Homeland Security offices, every fuckin' public building, every school, everywhere. It'll be mandated: flag, portrait of Bush, bleedin' Jesus, yowling in pain 'cause those fuckin' nails hurt, motherfucker. That way, every time someone walks into a government building, oh, that person'll know the score: this is a Christian nation, asshole, get used to it. (And the Rude Pundit thinks we should just drop the charade of Judeo-Christian - it's the rhetorical equivalent of "Clarence Thomas is a conservative black man.")

Goddamnit, it feels like the eighties all over. Didn't we go through this before with Ronald Reagan? Didn't we have to listen to the blathering of madmen and their bitches about the need for faith in American life? Didn't we have to see the quivering jowls of Jerry Falwell flappin' at us from our TVs back then? How many fuckin' times are we gonna have this fight? The difference is that the Christian right has gotten better at disguising their intent through secular-sounding language - in a sense, using the tools of legalese to promote a religious agenda.

For instance, the whole battle over the display of the Ten Commandments is such a bullshit bait and switch. In the original case, before the Supreme Court, stupid fuckers in backward ass counties in Kentucky tried to hide the Ten Commandments in a display of real, actual historical documents that mentioned "God" in one way or another, like the Mayflower Compact or the Declaration of Independence. The argument is that the Ten Commandments forms one of the bases for the American legal system, but the display also equates it with an historical document, and unless Indiana Jones has finally come back from Egypt with the Ark of the Covenant, the Ten Commandments are part of a book of faith. (And America's strange lack of laws about worshipping other gods or honoring ma and pa would seem to put a lie to the notion of the Moses tabs bein' all that important.) As the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put it, "When distilled to their essence, the courthouse displays demonstrate that Defendants intend to convey the bald assertion that the Ten Commandments formed the foundation of American legal tradition," an assertion which is, simply, utter, stinky, lying bullshit.

Ah, but now the Bush administration has urged the Supreme Court to allow the display of the Ten Commandments on government property. And on tour, like Destiny's Child and Usher, is the Alabama Supreme Court great, huge rock monument of the Ten Commandments. Private schools are bringing the children to see the giant marble chunk, maybe fondle it like a fetish. And, in case anyone wants to argue that it's not a bunch of deluded idiots involved in this display, check out the homepage of Dixie Rising, one of the sponsoring organizations for the Ten Commandments info for the Southern Party of Georgia. It's lyncherrific. Let's not bet that there's large numbers of Jews linin' up to see the Ten Commandments monument on its flatbed truck of love.

The Ten Commandments debate is such a small, small part of the larger picture here. There's the sad, overcovered public school teacher in California who used his classroom to evangelize to his students, covering it up with "lessons" on the American colonists and Founders. His handout contained quotes from "Great Leaders" on the Bible. Oh, terribly interesting lesson, one might think. Sure, sure, one might be troubled with the inclusion of Rutherford B. Hayes and Herbert Hoover, like maybe teacher Stephen Williams is grasping at straws in the "Great" category. But perhaps more troubling is the last Great Leader after a list of presidents: Jesus Christ. Again, again, again - the conflation of the fundamentalist belief in the historic truth of the Bible with actual history. (This was the story that made the rounds as "The Declaration of Independence Banned From School." Remember a well-told lie . . .)

Let's be clear here, shall we? There are two primary reasons that "God" is mentioned so much in documents by the Founders of this country: one is convention - it's just what you fuckin' did. It's like saying, "Dear Electric Company," when, in reality, the electric company ain't that "dear" to you. The other reason is that the Founders knew they had to use propaganda in order to appeal to the yahoos living in glorified cabins in the woods of New Hampshire: if you invoke "God," then stupid people will think you're legit. The "Creator," whether "God" or "Jesus," is the shiny trinket that distracts the children so the adults can do their work. Whatever Ben Franklin may have believed about deities great and small, he knew that the masses had to be placated so that they could go about the work of building a fuckin' nation. When Thomas Paine, the rudest of the Founders, decided to wreck notions of a public religion in The Age of Reason, he sent the manuscript to Franklin. A bespectacled whoremonger, Franklin understood the average new American, and he warned Paine not to publish the book: "Think how great a portion of mankind consists of weak and ignorant men and women, and of inexperienced, inconsiderate youth of both sexes, who have need of the motives of religion to restrain them from vice, to support their virtue, and retain them in the practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great point for its security." Franklin feared the unrestrained public; they needed religion as a distraction in order to avoid savagery. (Oh, how Thomas Paine was abandoned by the Founders after the book was published, who, like good politicians, all scrambled to show how "Christian" they were by condemning Paine.)

Ahhhh, now we get to some truth. You see, the Bush administration can pay all the lip service it wants to "Christian" goals and fundamentalist propaganda. But it's all a circus, man. Sure, sure, it's destructive, as with all the data about the failure and misinformation of abstinence-only programs. But faith is the big top we're all invited in to watch and yell and scream about. It was the great distraction of the election. It's the wink-wink, unspoken justification for the war. Meanwhile, if clowns like Falwell do their funny dance for our amusement, if we get too distracted by the high-wire artists who push for the Ten Commandments displays, we won't notice the world burning outside the tent.

Tomorrow: More of your tales of Christ weariness.