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Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dispatches from the Land of Hypocrisy

Not to state the obvious or anything, but the GOP is cynically using religion for its own Machiavellian political aims. Again.

I know...shocker.

Just when religious leaders around the nation thought it was safe to trust their membership, the Republican Party apparatus is asking swipe membership directories from their churches.
Mears said the "Republican National Committee has completed a study on grass-roots activity that reveals that people who regularly attend church usually vote Republican when they vote."

"In light of this study's findings, it is imperative that we register, educate and get these potential voters from the pew to the ballot box. To do this we must know who these people are," the memo continued.

"I am requesting that you collect as many church directories as you can and send them to me in an effort to fully register, educate and energize North Carolina's congregations to vote in the 2006 elections," it said.
Nothing like asking your party faithful to go behind Jesus' back -- guess that whole parable about the moneylenders in the temple was just so much paper for Ken Mehlman and his ilk.

I must say, I'm not exactly surprised, given that Republicans brought you such disgusting tactics as sending out a mass-mailing in WV and AR to say that Democrats were out to ban the Bible (nothing like a little lie between the faithful, eh?) during the 2004 Presidential election. Or the ever-popular use of Ralph Reed to bilk the faithful, using his flock to fill his own coffers along with that of the party -- gambling revenue and Jack Abramoff, anyone? Or the painful saga of Terri Schiavo. Or...well, it just keeps going, doesn't it?

It's not that Democrats haven't used the pulpit for political gains in the past -- but Karl Rove, Ralph Reed and their malignant band of cronies have taken this cynical manipulation of the faithful to an entirely new level over the past few years. To the point that the Southern Baptist Convention has called them out on particularly egregious tactics.

There was an editorial a few weeks ago in USAToday entitled "Playing the God Card," that really summed up how disgusting I find this manipulative political hypocrisy.
As religion scholar and writer Stephen Carter wisely argues in his book God's Name in Vain: The Wrongs and Rights of Religion in Politics, faith at its best resists being drawn too far into the nitty-gritty of politics. Who is to say whether Jesus would favor this or that specific policy — that he would frown on SUVs and drive only hybrid cars, as some environmentalists have claimed? Who's to say he would want any part of the often-cynical horse-trading and compromising that play a large part in the making of policy and law?

Faith at its best, at its most powerful, stands outside of culture, Carter argues, where it can best maintain its integrity and prophetic moral force. As Carter sees it, "Religion has too often allowed itself to be seduced by the lure of temporal power, a dysfunctional and even immoral love affair that has led to much human misery and has been destructive as well of true faith."