15 August 2003

"A Poisonous Divide"

Nicholas Kristof has an excellent column today about the growing influence of anti-intellectual religious fanaticism in the United States. He writes,

The result is a gulf not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but a growing split at home as well. One of the most poisonous divides is the one between intellectual and religious America.

Some liberals wear T-shirts declaring, "So Many Right-Wing Christians . . . So Few Lions." On the other side, there are attitudes like those on a Web site, dutyisours.com/gwbush.htm, explaining the 2000 election this way:

"God defeated armies of Philistines and others with confusion. Dimpled and hanging chads may also be because of God's intervention on those who were voting incorrectly. Why is GW Bush our president? It was God's choice."

Kristof further suggests we are in the midst of another Great Awakening. I think there's something to this statement. Awakenings aren't necessarily bad things...after all, the Second Great Awakening gave rise to some of the most powerful and lasting reform movements in our history--including abolitionism. But I don't see any similar reforms coming out of our current evangelical trendiness. Instead, I see bigotry. The same website Kristof links to in his column has a section on September 11th that says

Those who were Christians [who died in the WTC] were immediately delivered into God's welcoming hands. The others will forever torment the perpetrators of this evil for eternity in Hell, where there is no restraining love.

If that isn't self-righteous and bigoted, I don't know what is. One might also reference the recent right-wing Christian cries against gay marriage, also among the most bigoted rhetoric I have ever heard. Unfortunately these forces are in the ascendancy right now, and I'm not sure how this will end.


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