If reports filtering east from the Air Force Academy are correct, there has been an outbreak of extreme Jesus-ism in that undistinguished institution of lower learning. A Pentagon official said the military would look into complaints lodged by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State to the effect that the Christers, the fundies and the holy rollers have taken over the joint.
If the past is a guide, the Pentagon inquiry will begin with an extended blackout on all information while another one of their interminably ineffectual investigations is conducted. After many months, a report containing nothing we don’t already know and an official tsk-tsk will be issued, top personnel will be given medals and promotions, and the academy will go back to the status quo ante. O Lord, smite the evildoers and turn the iniquitous inhabitants of Liberal Land into pillars of horse pucky.
The reports coming out of Colorado include allegations that cadets who resist pressure to go to chapel are marched to their barracks in what is called the “heathen flight”; classes open with prayers; the football coach flies a banner in the locker room proclaiming that “I am a member of Team Jesus Christ”; the chaplain is promising eternal damnation to cadets who show insufficient zeal in converting pagans to the faith; and a Jewish cadet has been catechized to the effect that the Holocaust is divine payback for Jews having murdered Jesus.
But wise parents still might have second thoughts about encouraging their daughters to go to the academy, where the missionary position has a decided double meaning. Almost 150 women cadets have complained of being sexually assaulted by the male Christians in residence.
Islam and Christianity both have a sex fixation: Practitioners can’t get enough of it, even as they despise the thought of it. Their self-inflicted contradictions drive them crazy, and so they drive us non-believers nuts trying to take away our dirty pictures and our evil Web sites. They make their sex problems worse for themselves by immuring themselves in exclusive communities in which their ceaseless animadversions on the subject set them off into paroxysms of clandestine lust.
The curse of the Scarlet Letter is still on their brows. There is something deeply and dangerously amiss with them. That is their business-except that Christians do not, or cannot, keep it to themselves. Like the Islamists, with whom they are brothers under the skin, they are intent on imposing a Christian form of sharia on believers and non-believers alike. The goings-on at the Air Force Academy are a foretaste of what the faithful and their wretched clergy intend for the rest of us. Give these people power and the first thing they do every time is to make their idiosyncratic dogmas the law.
And the stuff they believe makes your ordinary witchdoctor look like Louis Pasteur or Jonas Salk. Submicroscopic homunculi running around inside a single cell, dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden, the virginity cult, hairy palms in Hell for masturbators. American Calvinists and their Jansenist Roman Catholic counterparts count it a sin to wrap an engorged male organ with a three-millimeter-thick latex film.
Having got control of the government, religion is raiding the treasury to extend its power and influence. In the last few years, the Capital Compassion Fund has paid out $100 million to missionary groups to teach evangelicals how to be more effective at their trade. That is in addition to the $2 billion handed out to 169 faith-based charities in 2004. George W. Bush calls these “the armies of compassion,” but one person’s compassion is another person’s power grab. To the extent that the alliance between religion and reaction is able to destroy government entitlements and replace them with charity, control by clergy over individual lives will be broadened. Compassion in this context is another name for charity, and charity is another name for humiliation and subordination. Talk all you want about dignity, but if I have to go to some ordained religious absolutist to ask for food, shelter, medical care or education, I have no dignity.
What’s being attempted is a 21st-century version of what was once called “rice Christianity.” The great-grandparents of today’s missionaries tried to bag converts by handing out rice to starving Chinese if they would submit to having water poured over their heads, a form of magic that Christians put great stock in. If a person’s hungry enough, he will sign anything, and thus a few Chinese took up the white European religion.
Soup-kitchen Christianity has long been practiced in the U.S. Generations of people on the nation’s skid rows sat through a fire-and-brimstone sermon by some skanky clergyperson in exchange for a sandwich and a bowl of soup.
The effort to make individuals dependent on government-funded church charity is being focused on Hispanics, where the right wing is out to get itself a pet minority to equal the Democrats’ hold on African-American loyalties. Mr. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (who is angling to succeed Mr. Bush) and other big-name Republicans are becoming regulars at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast, and their cat’s-paw organization, Nueva Esperanza, is recruiting for Jesus and the G.O.P. across the country. Also involved is Chuck Colson, an old-time Richard Nixon thug and convicted felon who came out of the penitentiary to turn himself into a revenge-seeking Calvinist minister and bagman for right-wing millionaires looking to put big bucks behind Jesus.
We hear fuzzy reports and rumors of Christian missionaries infiltrating everywhere. Thus, there’s a curious parallelism between the quiet penetration of once-secular institutions by Jesus freaks and the Communist operatives of 50 and 60 years ago. True believers both, masquerading as ordinary citizens, but in reality using their government jobs to push their own subversive purposes. Neither fanatical Communists nor holy-roller Christians can take the pledge of allegiance with honest intent. They both do so with fatal reservations.
The Communists represented an external threat by a foreign power; Christian subversion constitutes an internal threat by a domestic power with a foreign agenda. The Communists were financed by Moscow gold; these people are financed by right-wing billionaires such as the spooky John Templeton. If you trust in Jesus, why do you need Social Security? Unseen, unheard and unsuspected, the Christian corn borers-God’s carpenter ants-are munching at the foundations of the legal and social protections that the American left spent its blood putting in place across the labored years of the 20th century. And in its place, ladies and gentlemen, what? Pie in the sky, as the old-time radicals called the reactionary siren song of organized religion. “Work and pray, live on hay, you’ll get pie in the sky when you die,” so the song goes.
Those anomalous persons tagging themselves with names like “moderate,” “middle-of-the-road” or “mainstream” Christians will accuse me of failing to make distinctions: Do not confuse the corn-borer Christians with true Christians or real Christianity. When the talk goes to Islam, we hear the same thing: Don’t judge Islam by the Wahabbis; they are fanatics who don’t represent the true faith. But it’s not up to us pagans, infidels, agnostics, doubters, freethinkers and skeptics to tell the adherents of these religions what their true faith is.
We have no way of knowing what “real” Christianity is. How are we supposed to guess that from the outside looking in at the true believers arguing among themselves, pronouncing anathemas on each other, excommunicating each other, kicking each other out of church or mosque, even murdering each other? Just the other day, a Baptist minister in Waynesville, N.C., gave the boot to the members of his congregation who didn’t support Brother Bush in the last election. Apparently, the first thing the new Pope did after he adjusted his triple tiara was to fire the editor of the Jesuit magazine America for indulging in independent thought. You tell me who the “real” Christians are. Is it the nice guys, or rather some nasty, sex-obsessed reverend getting a photo op with George Bush or the Pope? Does he count as a “real” Christian?
Chuck Colson and the snake-handling, tongue-speaking, anti-rational divisions of Christianity puke at the phrase “mainstream church.” That’s namby-pamby Christianity as far as they’re concerned. As far as we outsiders are concerned, I wouldn’t leave it to the mainstreamers and their version of the true faith to protect our liberties. They spend their time whacking each other over the head with wet noodles about ordaining or marrying gay people. It’s the sex thing again.
To twist an old slogan, Extra ecclesiam nulla salus: There is no salvation within the church. If we want to be protected from this menace, we will have to do it ourselves.