06/28/2005: A Luther for our times?
But Prof. Leiter also shares with us some correspondence from Professor Peter Ludlow (of the University of Michigan):
Here's something you may not have known or suspected. When I grew up my family went to a conservative Christian church and I subsequently went to a Swedish Baptist college in Minnesota. I recently went back to my home town and was sickened by what became of the family church over the last 20 years. The received view is that the conservative christians have taken over the Republican Party. I think the reverse happened. The right wing of the Republican Party has taken over the church. Nothing could be more clear to me. In a fit of revulsion, and with a nod to Marty Luther, I wrote up the following 95 theses on the relighous right: Download ludlows_95_theses_on_the_religious_right.doc [Note: MS Word .doc file --LRC] In lieu of nailing it to the door of the Wittenburg Church I'm sending it to you instead. Not exactly the same thing, I realize. I'm not saying I'm a believer and I'm not saying I'm not, but I am saying that what has happened to the fundamentalist church is revolting.According to Prof. Leiter, Prof. Ludlow encourages the widest dissemination of his theses. Given that implicit permission, I'm taking the liberty of posting them, in their entirety, below the fold (click "more", below, to read). But if you want, feel free to download the word document (link in the quote), or to visit Prof. Leiter's blog entry (where there is a Rich Text Format file as well).
95 THESES ON THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT
Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed on the internet, under the presidency of the Peter Ludlow. Anyone wishing to debate with us, may do so by e-mail at email@example.com.
In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said "love thy neighbor", willed that believers should show *compassion* toward others.
2. This word cannot be understood to mean mere lip service ("I love them, but I hate their sin"), but genuine concern for the welfare of others.
3. Yet the Religious Right has forsaken compassion for a doctrine of institutionalized hatred and violence.
4. Specifically, the Religious Right has taken the Word of God and wrapped it in the flag of Right Wing Politics, replacing God's message of redemption for the entire world with a narrow message endorsing right wing American politics.
5. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, where He instructs that we are to show compassion for the poor.
6. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a right wing political doctrine in which the poor have only themselves and their alleged laziness and moral weakness to blame.
7. For example, the Religious Right has rejected the needs of poor children of unwed mothers.
8. The Religious Right has rejected the cries for help from the children of impoverished families in the inner cities.
9. The Religious Right, has advocated fewer resources for the elderly poor and for the millions of children now living in poverty.
10. In place of giving to the poor, the Religious Right has advocated political doctrines specifically designed so that individuals may acquire vast sums of money.
11. The Religious Right has thus seized on a contemporary economic ideology as an excuse to ignore the teachings of Jesus.
12. Item: the Religious Right has ignored God's injunction that we are to be caretakers for the Earth.
13. In place of God's injunction, the Religious Right has advocated policies in which the natural resources of God's creation are stripped from the earth and given to wealthy corporations without replacement.
14. In place of God's injunction that we are to be caretakers for the creatures of His creation, they have advocated policies through which these creatures may be extinguished forever.
15. The Religious Right has rejected laws designed to protect God's creation from pollution, claiming the "rights" of property owners are to be paramount.
16. In each case they have ignored the message of the Bible that this is God's creation, and they have substituted a doctrine in which God's creation may be partitioned and sold to the highest bidder.
17. Again, God's message has been cast aside for a message that supports a narrow economic message with its roots in right wing American politics.
18. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone."
19. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a doctrine in which perceived sinners are to be persecuted.
20. Gays, for example, are persecuted because of their alleged sins. In some cases, leaders of the Religious Right have encouraged acts of physical violence against gays.
21. While the Religious Right has been eager to persecute others for their alleged sins, they have been blind to their own.
22. While the Bible counsels that a rich man can no more enter the Kingdom of Heaven than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, many in the Religious Right have celebrated the acquisition of wealth.
23. While the Bible enjoins us against pride, the Religious Right appears to be flush with pride in it's holier than thou stance.
24. While the Bible asks that we be slow to anger, the Religious Right is quick to anger -- indeed it appears to revel in anger and in fanning the flames of anger in others.
25. While the Bible counsels that we are not to be "revilers," key members of the religious right have consistently and aggressively reviled their political enemies as well as those who are perceived to be sinners.
26. It seems then, that the Religious Right picks its sins selectively, ignoring the clear Biblical message against avarice, pride, and anger, and emphasizing selected “sins” that have little to no Biblical basis.
27. Item: While the Bible counsels that we are not to bear false witness, the Religious Right has engaged in smear campaigns against numerous political foes, often telling outright lies about “liberal” political leaders.
28. Worse yet, these smear campaigns have often been carried out in the house of God, sometimes in the form of inserts in church bulletins, and sometimes directly from the pulpit.
29. But the Religious Right has not merely spread its lies within the Church; they have done so outside the Church as well.
30. The Religious Right has used its financial resources not to spread the word of God, but to spread lies in the populace.
31. Item: Religious Right has failed to see that God's call to help our neighbors also extends to our international neighbors.
32. International aggression is not a Christian doctrine.
33. Where the Bible calls us to be peacemakers, the Religious Right claims that we have no business trying to bring peace to troubled areas but rather counsels that we should use military might to secure our business interests.
34. Where the Bible, through the story of the good Samaritan, instructs that we are to help our international neighbors -- indeed, even our enemies -- the Religious Right counsels "America First".
35. But "America First" cannot be a true Christian Doctrine.
36. The Bible gives no special status to political entities like the United States of America, and any suggestion to the contrary is to simply lie about the content of the Bible.
37. God does not bless nation states, and if He did, He surely would not bless them for practicing international internal intolerance, and propping up corrupt kingdoms and military juntas that traffic in institutionalized poverty and violence.
38. Item: the Religious Right has claimed that abortion is immoral, yet there is no Biblical basis for this claim
39. Rather, the doctrine appears to be driven by a medieval philosophy of the person, which they have imported into their theology.
40. Why has medieval philosophy taken precedence over the Scriptures? Perhaps the Religious Right never took the Scriptures very seriously in the first place.
41. This is highlighted by the frightening extremes to which they have taken this political dogma.
42. Victims of rape and incest are not to be allowed abortions. What could the Biblical basis of this possibly be?
43. Even when the mother's life is in danger, they would reject the possibility of abortion. Thus once again God's message of love and redemption is tarnished by advocates of a political doctrine of hatred and cruelty.
44. More troubling than their anti-abortion doctrine, however, is the tone with which that doctrine is advanced.
45. Here they use they weapon of hatred, encouraging the harassment of women, the bombing of clinics, and in some cases the taking of human life.
46. Their rejoinder that abortion is the taking of a human life has no basis in Biblical authority.
47. Their anti-abortion campaign is merely a political campaign dressed in the clothing of religion.
48. Item: The Religious Right has failed to distinguish its political message from what is left of its genuine religious message, leading Christians to conflate the two.
49. The Religious Right has engaged in a form of idolatry -- idolatry of certain patriotic symbols.
50. They have wrapped the Bible in the American flag. Indeed, one can find Bibles that contain documents such as the United States Constitution and pictures of the presidents.
51. Such Bibles arguably defile the word of God.
52. The American flag is not a symbol to be worshipped; yet the Religious Right has argued that it should be a crime to "desecrate" the flag. But what religious basis is there for such advocacy?
53. What basis is there for putting the American flag in the front of a church, next to the altar and the cross?
54. There can be no Biblical basis for placing such symbols in the house of God, nor for the undue reverence paid to them.
55. The Religious Right has failed to grasp the full power of God, supposing that spiritual growth for Christians can only come in the wake of political change in the United States.
56. On the contrary, God is perfectly capable of creating spiritual revival without the help of the Republican Party, and certainly without the help of an organizations that espouse doctrines that are antithetical to the teaching of God at almost every turn.
57. Item: the Religious Right has preyed on people's fears -- their fear of crime, of other races, of the future, of the unknown.
58. Rather than say "fear not, for God is with us," they have used fear to sow the seeds of hatred and violence.
59. They have led their congregations to fear people of other races.
60. They have led their congregations to fear people of other sexual orientations.
61. They have led their congregations to fear our own judicial system.
62. They have led their congregations to fear the teachings of science.
63. They have led their congregations to fear anyone and anything different from their narrow conception of what they consider to be normal.
64. Worse, they have fanned this fear into hatred, encouraging their congregations to despise those who are different.
65. Item: The Religious Right has paid lipservice to the moral development of children, yet their doctrines are antithetical to the interests of children.
66. They appear to believe that moral development can be accomplished solely through discipline and censorship -- censorship of thought-provoking materials and censorship of the findings of science.
67. Yet, as a group, the members of the Religious Right have failed miserably as parents.
68. Jesus said, "suffer the children come unto me," yet members of the Religious Right have physically and psychologically abused their children.
69. They have advocated corporeal punishment, and have carried out acts of indoctrination on their children which, truth be known, are as severe as those of any fringe religious cult.
70. They have made children to be ashamed of and hate their bodies, when they should be proud that those bodies are the temples of God.
71. They have lied to children about the nature of God's creation, teaching them to ignore the great beauty God has revealed through the biological sciences.
72. In place of that beauty, they have taught their children a theory in which God's revelation through nature is ignored, and an ugly doctrine of fiat creation is espoused.
73. They have taught their children to be intolerant of others, to be hateful of gays and persons of color.
74. They have failed to instruct their children in God's message of love and redemption and have substituted for it a message of exclusion, suspicion, and contempt.
75. They have failed to raise their children according to the teachings of the Bible.
76. They have utterly failed as parents, yet they presume to dictate how we should raise our own children.
77. Item: The Religious Right, caught up in its hypocritical attacks on others has utterly ignored the solteriolocial aspects of Christianity.
78. Gone is the message that Jesus dies on the cross to save us from our sins.
79. Gone is the message of salvation, of hope and redemption.
80. In effect, the one core fact of Christianity, it's very reason for being, has been lost in the Religious Right's orgy of hatred and accusation.
81. How many souls will be lost because of their campaign of hatred?
82. At what price do these political triumphs come? Are they really worth the loss of the core message of Christianity?
83. Item: the Religious Right pays lip service to the authority of the Word of God, yet that Word plays little role in the treating of the Religious Right.
84. In place of the message of God's Grace and our redemption, they have substituted a purely political doctrine with no grounding in the Scriptures.
85. Rare are the references to passages of the Bible in the sermons of the Religious Right.
86. Those references that survive, are taken out of context and are merely used to justify preestablished political doctrines.
87. For example, there is no Biblical support for their views on abortion.
88. There is no Biblical support for their right wing economic theories.
89. There is no Biblical support for their campaign of abuse against their own children.
90. There is no Biblical support for their "America First" doctrines.
91. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of persons of color.
92. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of homosexuals.
93. In conclusion: the Religious Right has desecrated the house of God, taking a place of worship and treating it as a soap box in the service or the Right Wing of the Republican Party.
94. The Religious Right has likewise desecrated the Word of God, attributing to the Bible doctrines that are hateful, cruel, and entirely antithetical to the actual contents of the Bible.
95. Christians are to be exhorted to speak out against the Religious Right, as it is a vile heretical movement, wholly outside the teachings of the Word of God.
Len on 06.28.05 @ 09:07 AM CST