There was a time when child molestation was considered a sin by conservative Christians and there was a time when multiple criminal acts of a sexual nature committed against children would have been condemned by anyone even claiming to be a Christian. Of course that that didn’t mean that such acts did not happen, but at least in public Christian leaders condemned the criminal acts that we used to call mortal sin, even if they offered the offender a chance at repentance and reconciliation.
But that was before the days of “culture war” proclaimed by Pat Buchanan and the Christian “jihad” to use the terms of Roman Catholic theologian Peter Kreeft, a convert from Evangelical Protestant Calvinism to the Catholic faith in his book Ecumenical Jihad. For Buchanan, Kreeft and others like them defending the indefensible is the norm if it supports the dominance of Christians over their non-Christian neighbors. Kreeft’s whole thesis follows the premise that the “liberal elites” are attacking the very basis of Christian civilization, as such the “culture war” and “fanaticism” perfectly acceptable. While Kreeft does not openly endorse violence as a response, his thesis does not necessarily condemn it. The reason for this is that Kreeft promotes the idea of a militant Church that is linked to the state and has the power to punish and persecute its enemies. Of course this is a page that Kreeft borrows from radical Islam and by doing so he does’t seem to mind throwing out the teachings of Jesus. Instead Kreeft, Buchannan and many others, especially Christians who follow “Dominionist” theology return to the model of the imperial church in which believers have all right to rule over unbelievers because God wants it that way.
Interestingly enough the Duggars have been out there preaching the same message, which is why I had to mention it.
As a person who cut his teeth during the heady early days of the Christian Right’s march to power I am astounded to see the moral implosion of what properties to call itself “conservative Christianity” in the United States. This implosion has been on full display in the situation involving the Duggar family, a fundamentalist Christian family who due to their ability to breed like rabbits have enjoyed a near cult like status with the Christian Right, complete with reality television show, book deals and political influence with many of the 2016 Republican Presidential contenders.
Now let me be clear. I have nothing against large families, people sharing their faith, or even endorsing political candidates. As for the Duggars as I do not know them. I only know them by their carefully crafted media image which is in the process of coming apart. That being said, what is going on here is a disaster for people who actually value the Christian faith and do9 what they can to share the love of Jesus in word and in deed with their neighbors. It is a disaster for the Christian culture that the Duggars supposedly defend.
The story has all of the elements, except murder, that make a great crime novel: admitted sexual crimes of the family’s oldest son Josh, who admits to molesting, not one, not two, not three, but four of his sisters and, at least one other girl, some of them while they were asleep. The story features a father and mother who covered up the crime and refused to get their son any real mental health treatment, and a police Department that did nothing about the situation even after they were notified. To add some spice it features a host of politicians, pundits and preachers, which remind one of the townspeople in he classic film Inherit the Wind. Interestingly enough almost all of these people boast of their Christian moral superiority and routinely condemn other people’s supposed sexual sins, especially Gays. Not only do they do this, they throw all of their political and moral capital into ensuring that Gays and Lesbians do not have the same rights as they have.
Since the story broke the political hacks of the Christian Right have been working overtime to spin the story as “Christian persecution” by the supposedly “Left Wing media.” Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher was among the first to defend the Duggars and make this claim. But he has to do this, the Duggars are among his most influential supporters. The pictures Huckabee smiling with Josh Duggar all over the internet in the wake of Huckabee’s candidacy announcement make for great copy if the scandal goes away. If not they are a liability. But the Huckster isn’t alone in defending the Duggars. Supposedly conservative “Christian” pundits, politicians and preachers have been coming out of the woodwork, not to condemn the crimes which are admitted to and documented, but to attack those who throw the bullshit flag on the Duggars.
This my friends is an important distinction, because if the Duggars were some poor family with no money or influence the Christian Right would never defend them. However, the Duggars are not some poor family that is just out there minding its own business, who had a child commit sexual crimes. They are a family that has used its fame and fortune to mercilessly attack anyone who disagrees with their cultish view of the Christian faith. Of course this is almost always on display at political rallies and meetings where they incessantly condemn the Gays and fight against marriage equity, where quite often it was the perpetrator of the crimes in the Duggar family, Josh, who was leading the charge. After their sins and crimes came to light the parents had the nerve to trot out two of their daughters to defend Josh and say that it was minor molestation. When I saw that I realized that this family has no regard for real Christian morality or faith. Sadly they will stoop to anything to protect their franchise and keep the money coming in. But why should we be surprised at any of this. Eric Hoffer wrote, “A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.”
Though their television show has been cancelled they are getting a lot of air time as the Fox News Network does all that it can to defend them. Likewise the Duggar family’s “image crisis” is being managed by Mike Huckabee’s long time adviser Chad Gallagher of Legacy Consulting.
But even then, a few Fox commentators, Greg Gutfield and Geraldo Rivera took the time to go off the reservation and condemned the Duggars. Gutfeld dared to ask what the Duggars defenders would be saying if the Duggars were not Christians, while Rivera asked viewers to take religion out of the equation and ask what they would think of any family that allowed such crimes to happen and then to cover them up. Note that Gutfeld and Rivera are not Christians. Rivera is Jewish, and and Gutfeld, a former Catholic altar boy is an “Agnostic Atheist,” thus, unlike many of the Fox hosts, neither has a need to defend “Christianity” by defending criminals. I think that this gives them a bit more objectivity in the matter, despite the fact that they work for Fox.
While the fight the Christian Right is waging involves the Duggars, who they are desperately trying to rehabilitate, it is bigger than that. The the political leaders of the Christian Right are waging an ideological war on all comers, something that Pope Francis recently condemned. The Pope said:
“In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?”
Pope Francis nails the issue. The more that these supposedly Christian leaders do to defend the indefensible behaviors of their own people and the more that they do to attempt to use the police power of the state to enforce their beliefs on others, the more people they will drive away from the faith. Most people tend to like what they see in Jesus, even non-believers often admire his teachings, but they do not like the leaders of the Christian Right and are fleeing the churches in astronomical numbers.
So, these leaders can keep Duggering around with their Jihad, making a mockery of faith, of friendship and inciting hatred in the name of God while defending actions for which there is no defense. I have to wonder where it will stop.
The Duggars and their supporters are sowing the wind, and in doing so they will reap the whirlwind and they are blind to what they are doing.
So that is all for today,