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I feel that we are still in a period of time where the connections between socialism/communism and a threat to religion are still very fresh. During the fifty some odd years of the Cold War an alliance between capitalism and religion was forged. The former Soviet Union represented a threat to both and as such each saw in one another a mutual partner. Religion provided the motivated masses to fight and vote while the owners of capital provided the money to fund such actions.
Nowadays it not uncommon for me to meet resistence of any mention of social programs as "creeping socialism" and hence religious death.
The connections are still very fresh in some people's minds, less so in the younger generations. The Cold War was a horribly polarizing event (as will be the War on Terror) that caused both sides to veer dangerously close to an idealogically edge, with the Soviet Union eventually collapsing and the United States becoming very militaristic and right wing.
But during those days the rough alliance between the capitalists and the religious proved very useful to the people making the weapons and pushing a hard right social agenda. Both had a mutaul boogeyman in the communists to push their agenda.
Its not entirely an accident that the names and faces in the White House read like a "who's who" of cold war politics. The "War on Terror" has replaced the Cold War for all intents and purposes. The irony is that this time, instead of the enemy being a left wing secular idealogy its a right wing religious one. But the answer is still the same, a ramping up of religious fervor and an increase in spending for arms makers.
On Streak's blog (one of my new favorites) he answers the question I think many in the church should be asking; How can I be a good christian without embracing the overly right wing gay hating tv evangelists that are more intent on preaching hate then preaching the message of Jesus?
Do it, as the kids say, "old school." Take as your challenge to America to dramatically reduce poverty and uninsured people in this country. Work with liberals and Catholics who are concerned about this and let your actions be your witness. Eradicate child poverty. Reduce the uninsured so the poor can attempt good health. Eradicate infant mortality. Investigate and act when corporations endanger the poor by dumping carcinogens into drinking water.
But there you get back to the initial conflict of capitalism and christianity. Solved, of course, by carefully ignoring most of the New Testement.
Capitalism by its very nature demands shortages. The "problems" that Streak refers to; poverty, homelessness, hunger, lack of health care are a by-product of the market. The market dictates that there be a demand that exceeds the supply. This drives up (or sustains) prices.
Imagine for a second what providing high quality low cost housing for the poor would do to rent prices.
In addition, as you alleviate the pain and suffering of people you have the unfortunate by-product (in the eyes of capital owners) of creating a more demanding work force that has more room to negotiate for better working conditions. Nothing works to quell unions, squash wages and quiet disgruntled employees better than a starving man outside clutching at an application for dear life. Take away the spectre of starvation and homelessness and people get uppity.
Any earnest and effective attempt to address an real problems will be met with resistence by the people wishing to make money providing the services that the government (or church) would offer for free.
In right wing religious minds, any attempt by government to address any social crisis is tantamount to socialism and by extension (in cold war mentality) a direct threat to religious freedom in America. A very useful connection for business interests.
So we get gays and abortion instead. Business friendly religious issues. Nothing that calls for any kind of social justice that might threaten the bottom line. Nevermind that nothing made Jesus angrier than moneychangers in the temple...
14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"
I have to wonder how Jesus would feel about God's house being used as a recruiting area for the military?
If there is any silver lining to the utterly fictitious war on terror its that no longer do we have an enemy that represents a secular-socialist boogeyman, nope, today's enemy is a fundamentalist religious one that hates all the same things as the domestic fundies do; gays, freedom, women, liberals, education, seculaism.. etc...
Though magically, in the eyes of nutjobs like David Horowitz, the lefties and the islamic fundies are all on the same side?
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