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The Rise of the GOP's Holy SeeKenneth G. Ramey Salem-News.com
Foremost in the minds of the Founders: was separation of Church and State...
(PASO ROBLES, CA) - Politics today is confusing to say the least, especially as it relates to the Republican Party which has become a more religious body than political, and it is Evangelists who guide the politicians and who are calling the political shots. If Karl Rove is not the architect he at least is their chosen who persistently strives for greater dominance.
It was not always so, but over time, Evangelists, as they have with numerous denominations of Protestant Churches, acceded to levels of authority by exerting their beliefs in Jesus as God and the Bible as the definitive word of God; the very thing that has made them the leader of the Republican Party. Here’s how it happened.
Pilgrims were an English sect which fled to Rotterdam to avoid persecution by the Church of England that did not look favorably upon dissidents, The sect lived twelve years in Rotterdam until they were given the Mayflower in which to sail to North America, In 1621 the Pilgrims landed near a rock they called Plymouth Rock off the Massachusetts coast, but before they landed all 121 signed a compact to live together in a mutual aid society for the benefit of all. They succeeded with the help of friendly Indians, and the Colony eventually moved inland where it flourished and became the seed of the Congregational Church in America.
Puritans were Calvinist Protestants who migrated to America and settled among their Pilgrim cousins where they proved to be the dominate of the two groups. Each brought with them from Europe the habits of religion then in vogue, including a belief in witches, the last of which they put to death in 1721; Europe killed its last dissident, aka known as witches,-in the 1770s.
The American Declaration was approved July 4th 1776 followed by the Constitution which was ratified in 1789. I find it hard to doubt that the history of the past was foremost in the minds of the Founders in the creation of both instruments and the first Amendment was written which separated Church from State creating a Secular Government.
The term Puritan has disappeared from common usage as its adherents associated themselves with established Protestant Churches in which, because of their dedication to their fundamentalist beliefs, elevated them to positions of authority within them. As persons of strong faith and opinion, it seems natural to me that some would want to express themselves in ways others consider extreme, but which are consistent with the basics of their fundamentalist belief. Holy Rollers, and Pentecostal, come to mind, but there are others of greater or less extreme, some of which neither Catholic or Protestants approve.
Penitentes in New Mexico are an extreme sect of Spaniards, not illegal, but denounced by the Catholic Church; the Jonestown colony in Guiana, S.A. where all - children first - died on command of cool-aid laced with arsenic. Of the few who opted out several were shot and killed by the airplane intended to get them out, including a Congressman who had come to investigate the sect.
Evangelists and their mega-churches evolved from the Puritan line, Oral Roberts of hands-on fame and his University; while others have been jailed for using faith to bilk congregants of resources of better use to the faithful than to the crooks. Jim Baker is still behind bars, but his wife and unwitting partner apparently has died Colorado is known for its extreme Evangelists, where even the sex practices of some such as Jimmy Swaggart with a prostitute ended his career, but who the membership is asked to forgive, and always do - the message being greater than the preacher.
Mega-Churches are everywhere it seems, and their pastors are the frontline pulpiteers (pun intended) who spread the gospel of Republicanism that the GOP Holy See promotes. The Geo. W. Bush Administrations had Rev Parsley of Cincinnati fame, preach that God (Jesus) wanted American Christians to destroy Islam, and Iraq was invaded pre-emotively and without Cause.
The Iraq war is reminiscent of the so-called Unknown War which was fought by American troops against Filipinos who when they realized the U.S was not freeing them from Spanish rule, but simply replaced them as their masters, indicated their displeasure by doing what the Iraqi’s did 100 years later. Both wars and both sides resorted to acts of cruelty and unbelievable violence. Both wars lasted ten years; the Afghan War is going on twelve.
In spite of what is said about them, wars have as its underpinning the religious factor, and are instigated in part because of it. Wm McKinley was president who was encouraged by the Religious Right to claim the Philippine Islands so that our little brown brothers could be taught the benefits of Christianity, ignoring entirely the fact that Catholicism was already the religion of the masses and had been for two hundred years under Spain. President McKinley decided to take the Islands after he had spoken with God who encouraged him to do so. 10 years later the U.S. settled for a navel base at Manila as the price it demanded, and was accepted by the natives for independence.
The Iraq war was not popular with the people of the United States, but was for the Republican Holy See and its cohorts, such as John McCain of Arizona and Sarah Palin, as well as Sen, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina. Bob Woodward who wrote of Geo. W. Bush, said Bush admitted to talking with God every day, but I suspect it was the Holy See, Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld, among others, who pampered the President’s will with Biblical text to obtain his approval to their designs. The President even believed that “with God in his heaven, all’s right with the world,” until Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. and he realized he had been had. He has been a changed man ever since: Donald Rumsfeld was dismissed, and later Karl Rove was too, until he was recalled. By the Holy See that had designs on the future and needed his help.
President Obama got caught up in the idea that he had an obligation to continue the work of his predecessor; proven, I believe. by his telephone call to tell Geo. W that Osama bin Laden had been killed and how. My sense is George could have cared less. I think Barack Obama had the right idea before he was elected, but his demeanor and decisions as President diminished him for a time, but he has learned from his mistakes and his experience and is prepared to become a great president in a second term.
The musical chairs of the Republican hopefuls reveals the fact that they know who is pulling their Party’s strings. Rick Perry is just another Sarah Palin; Newt Gingrich tried to use his current Catholicism to obtain favor from evangelicals, but failed; Rick Santorum is too Catholic to be taken seriously by the GOP’s Protestant Holy See, and Ron Paul is too old. That leaves Mitt Romney, a Mormon, to prove that he is a better man than Barack Obama if the “Holier than thou See” will support him all the way.
Kenneth G. Ramey, Salem-News.com's Religion and Philosophy Writer, confronts the hard issues of politics and religion from a logical point of view that combines interesting insight with history into the truth, or lack thereof, that underlies the strengths and weaknesses of the Religious Right’s determination to use American politics for its own misguided, or selfish, interest. It’s rare for a writer to balance his writing between religious values and the secular guarantees of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights with the knowledge that Ken possesses, and to do it so effectively.
Ken was born in Minnesota but was raised in California since 1932. He is the youngest of four boys raised by his mother alone during the dark years of the Great Depression. He Graduated from SFSU in the 1970s when in his mid-forties, majoring in Spanish North American History, and added three years of post-graduate study, much of it in Philosophy and Religion. We live at a critical time in history and believe Ken's views represent the view of many who are tired of the commercialism and false interpretations about religion today. Watch for Ken's articles on religion, philosophy, politics and history. View articles written by Kenneth G. Ramey You can email Ken at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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