Friday, May 22, 2009

Supporting the GOP, the Christian Thing to Do (according to Liberty University)

Sometimes, one just has to shake his head. Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA (established by the late Jerry Falwell) has decided that it can no longer officially support the school's Democratic Club (which was formally recognized in October '08), because the values of the Democratic Party are not in line with the university. I have not a single problem with the school deciding not to fund the program. Private schools can do that.

My problem is with the inference that one cannot be a Democrat and a Christian. According to the article in the Lynchburg News Advance, the university's Vice President of Student Affairs, in an e-mail message, wrote "[t]he Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine...." Meanwhile, College Republicans has been at Liberty for years.

So, that's settled. It appears that the Republican Party is the party of Christ, while the Democratic Party is not. Therefore, supporting the Republican Party means that you support God. Following the Democratic Party is both immoral and anti-Christian. I could go into a nice long rant about this, but I think that the feelings expressed by the officials at Liberty speak for themselves without additional help from me.

Oh, and someone might want to tell all of those black Christians who have strayed from "the path" by voting Democratic all of these years.


Scott said...

Free you are obviously a godless atheist pinko tree-hugging, baby-killing, gun-hating liberal member of the Democrat Socialist Party.

You would understand the policy of Mr. Falwell's great University if you would simply look at the words of Jesus himself on the subject of abortion and homosexuality.

So get out your Bible and report back, ok?

Oh yeah, and repent and send Jerry's University some money and maybe God will forgive you.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey--Scott clearly enjoys mocking people he doesn't agree with, but I think your original post raises some good questions. I recall reading during the election that the largest predictor of how someone would vote was whether they attended church on a regular basis. People who attended church regularly voted for Republicans while those that did not voted for Democrats. Obama may have changed that, but it certainly raises some interesting questions.

Scott thinks that people who go to church are biased extremists. Why do Democrats have a hard time attracting regular church goers? You imply that any assertion that any implication that the Democratic Party is hostile to religion is crazy, but look at Scott's reaction. He didn’t exactly throw out the welcome mat to the faithful. The Catholic Church has had a historic preference for the poor, has been a strong supporter of unions, and opposes the death penalty. Does abortion override all of that? Has the Democratic Party established itself (with angry people like Scott) as hostile to religion? I think they have. The decision at Liberty was wrong, but I understand where the idea comes from. To me it is part of the shift of the heart of the Democratic Party to wealthy gated communities in New England, and away from the factory workers of Detroit.

Regarding black Christians, I think there loyalty to the Democratic Party is simply a question of their racial interests overpowering their religious interests. By the way, the last image most Americans have of the black church is Rev. "God Damn America" Wright. Does he represent the black church?

Scott said...

"Scott thinks that people who go to church are biased extremists."Not even close. Scott thinks that people who use religion as an excuse to promote intolerance and bigotry are "biased extremists." You are correct that I enjoy mocking them.

There are a lot of people--maybe most of the people--who "go to church" who feel the same way.

hscfree said...

@Anonymous: I just want to make sure that I get a few things correct. Being supportive of a woman's right to choose is inherently hostile to religion? Being supportive of gay rights is inherently hostile to religion? Being supportive of universal health care and not purely corporate sponsored, bottom line first health care is hostile to religion? Being openly supportive of government programs designed to uplift the poor (and many are admittedly in need of solid reform) is hostile to religion?

Those people who attend church regularly who support the GOP, i think tend to attend churches that have conservative religious philosophies. And, because the Catholic church has historically been more progressive than say the Baptist church (white and black), I would guess that those numbers would be more divided between the Democratic and Republican parties. And you act as though there are no liberal churches out there.

As the GOP continues wanting to shed people like Colin Powell, for example, I think that the party is being reduced down to members who actually do believe exactly the way Scott described.

During my tenure at Hampden-Sydney, I remember interacting with Liberty students (they were only 45 minutes away). We were dismissed by several students as being sinners with whom they should have limited interaction. The ladies of Randolph-Macon Woman's College were routinely referred to as the "whores on the hill" (Sweet Briar College women were not given much more regard). It was troubling to see people look at you in judgment, and that was in the 1980s (not nearly as polarized politically as today).

And I have to admit that you are a little out of your depth with regard to the black church. I am no fan of organized religion, but I have and had ministers as relatives. Like our discussions about Michelle Obama, this one about the black church will go similarly.

Rev. Wright represents a solid segment of the black church. Liberation theology has a strong tradition within the black church. There is also a very strong tradition within the black church of calling America out, particularly in ways that white folks would be horrified. I watched the whole presentation that Wright gave, and though inelegant in that instance, he made sense. It was the classic notion of we need to be mindful of what we put out in the world, because we do not know what will come back our way.

With regard to black people supporting the Democratic party, I have told you before that it is probably less the idea of going for racial spoils as it is believing that the GOP is the party that comfortably supports racists. If you haven't read my tribute to Jack Kemp. He really would have been the one to help move black folks back home to the GOP, if he'd been listened to, and if white folks stopped acting as though black folks were a people apart.

Let me know if I missed something in this response.

Micheal Sisco said...

Ah, the Bible and homosexuality. Actually, Jesus said not a word -- not one single sentence -- about homosexuality in the pages of the 4 Gospels.
The references we get are from Saul/Paul's letters to the various churches and from the allegorical stories of the Old Testament, which, by the way, condemns masturbation AND "pulling out" (God smote mightily the dude who spilled his seed onto the earth).
Throughout his ministry, Jesus, I think, stressed that his purpose was to clear the way for our personal relationship with the divine. His two greatest teachings, I think, were the ideas of "greater love hath no man than he who would lay down his life for a friend" and "render unto Caeser that which is Caeser's and unto God that which is God's"
Jesus was a very cool dude.
I think he knew that the mix of politics and church was a pretty stupid proposition (after all the Temple was rife with the corruption politics often brings) and pretty worthless as far as bringing one closer to God.
I think the Islamists and the extreme right wing should form one big bowling league (sans beer, of course) because they both support the same ideals: the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate/Religious state.
Jesus, were he alive today, would absolutely go nuts.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey—In general I tried to ask more questions than provide answers, but let me try to react to your thoughts. I do not think that supporting universal healthcare is in conflict with being religious. And if we are right about that, why aren't more church-going people Democrats? That's my question. What is it about the Democratic Party that makes it hostile to people that attend church. My guess is that Scott's hostility is a primary reason. Democrats and liberals tend to mock people of faith (which Scott acknowledges that he enjoys) and are generally contemptuous of them. Democrats should do better with people of faith. The fact that Scott and people like him on the left mock and scorn people that they don't agree with certainly can't help.

You write "It was troubling to see people look at you in judgment…" I probably don't agree with the conclusions of the people from Liberty, but I think liberals judge people every day just as much as people from Liberty do. Just ask Scott.

If Rev. Wright represents the black church then you are right, I will never understand it. I will never understand someone who preaches "God Damn America!" I will never understand someone who equates the U.S. with Al-Qaeda. I will never understand someone who argues that America knew about Pearl Harbor and deliberately let it happen. I will never understand someone who says that the government invented "the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color." But worse than any of those statements is the applause and the celebration in the pews from countless people who stand by and defend him. I will never understand how someone of your caliber—as thoughtful and intellectual a person as I have known--can say that he makes sense.

As I have said in the past the GOP will likely go through a period in the wilderness for at least 6 years, and several more national defeats, before they reinvent themselves into a more popular party. Every weekly dust-up is a part of that process which will take years to complete so I try not to waste energy following them.

As far as blacks and the GOP go, I think it is a generational thing. I'm not sure what more the GOP can do to reach out to the black community. I think there is just a level of distrust that for a certain generation will never be overcome. If I were the head of the RNC I would be more concerned about losing Hispanic votes, the largest minority in the country. But let's assume that I am wrong. If you were the head of the RNC and wanted to reach out to black voters, what policy changes would you advocate?

Scott said...

"Democrats and liberals tend to mock people of faith (which Scott acknowledges that he enjoys) and are generally contemptuous of them."

Anon, I don't want to beat a dead horse here, but did you read my earlier response to you? I do not mock "people of faith." I mock people who twist the words of Jesus into a message of intolerance and bigotry.

Free's original posting, and my response, was about Liberty University, not about "people of faith." I'm pretty familiar with Liberty (I live about half an hour away) I have seen first hand the brand of closed-minded intolerance it fosters. I do in fact mock that perversion of Christianity.

But I'm also aware that much good has been inspired by faith. Jerry Falwell may have preceded his name with "The Reverend," but then, so did Martin Luther King.

hscfree said...

@Anon: I feel like we are back in grad school again. I would shift your question to why aren't more church-going white people Democrats. When you look at the statistics for many of the other major faiths (judism, islam, buddhism, hindu, etc), you will find that they supported the Democratic Party. It's when you start talking to white evangelical Christians that you hear what you hear.

Regarding the black church, I would suggest that you read some history there. Give me time, and I can come up with a reading list.
Let me give examples and context, though I think this is going to go like our discussion about Michelle Obama. People like Wright can make the claim (one that I do not believe) that HIV was manufactured, because people of his generation remember the syphills experiments that were done purposely on black men without their knowledge in order to monitor the progress of the disease on humans. Conspiracy theories are not the sole province of black folks or the black church. Remember all of the stuff around the assassination of JFK. And yes, Malcolm X called that an occasion when chickens were coming home to roost based on what he saw as the ruthlessness of American policies abroad combined with the strife being felt by black folks domestically. Was it hyperbole? Of course, and he was called out on that. JFK's assassination is probably akin to our generation's 9/11, so the comparison is apt. And, if you want to link this to the Obamas, I will remind you of my argument about white southerners who attended churches pastored by people with whom they might have disagreed with on segregation. Judge those folks similarly.

There are Native Americans who still look at the U.S. skeptically based on our interactions with them. There are black Southerners who could comfortably compare white segregationists with terrorists.

When I say that it makes sense, I am simply saying that I can understand why people could come to those conclusions. That does not mean that I agree with them. That is the beauty, in my mind, of being someone of my "caliber." I am trying to be thoughtful and intellectual. I am looking at these issues quite clinically.

I agree with you that there is a generation of blacks who may never look at the GOP. Remember, I looked, and I didn't like what I saw, and I left. Again, Jack Kemp had real solid ideas, that even caused my diehard supporting family members to consider him an interesting potential candidate for POTUS. That is the party the Powell is talking about. But the GOP seems happier to embrace people like Jeff Sessions (God help us that he is the ranking member on the Senate Justice committee).

The latino community is not going to go for the GOP, if the GOP continues to demonize anyone as illegal if they have an hispanic surname. That is what is happening. Mel Martinez seemed not to make any in-roads whatsoever when he was the head of the RNC. They'd better start looking to the likes of the guy running against Charlie Christ, or get George Prescott Bush to start moving toward elective office.

Regarding your last point, I would definitely work aggressively to implement some of the ideas raised by Kemp on dealing with poor people. I thought that his idea to use funds from HUD to renovate housing projects around the nation and then to create a rent to own system in those projects was a good one. it would be a massive transfer of public property to private property, but one that would eventually generate tax revenue. it would have the potential of revolutionizing how poor people view the world, and how it works. it gives them a real break to become active citizens, and i think the broader effect on the country would be good.

hscfree said...

Continuing: I would advocate strongly for taking on the teachers unions. Bad teachers, and I don't think that test scores of students are the best measures, need to go. Actually, I would really revisit what role the fed should have in schools. it needs to be real limited, and i would look at different international models to see if any would work well here. By doing real education reform at the earliest ages, then we might be able to talk about eliminating affirmative action in admissions, because we could move toward a more equitable education system.

Those are a couple of thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I read the WP editorial on this today. While I don't agree with Liberty's stance, I do find it interesting what an uproar liberals are in over this pretty minor incident.

Where is the outrage over speech codes and political correctness on campuses? On ideologically biased hiring at universities? Over the tyranny of bullying liberal professors who attack conservative students for daring to question the reigning doctrine? These things happen every day in campuses around the country that are dominated by liberals. But one university tries to adjust the balance just a little bit and the liberal attack machine goes into high-gear.

There are a handful of conservative campuses in the country and it seems to drive liberals nuts.

hscfree said...

@Anonymous: As an alumnus of one of those conservative campuses, I can assure you that I love Hampden-Sydney. LOL