"American Theocracy" ? Give me a break!

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Cosima__J

"American Theocracy" ? Give me a break!

Post by Cosima__J » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:06 pm

"American Theocracy" is the title of Kevin Phillips' latest book. I have not read the book. I am just commenting on the title. To imply that America is a theocracy or even heading in that direction is absurd in the extreme! I hope somebody out there has read the book and can assure me that Mr. Phillips is not making any such claim.

Theocracy indeed! In fact, over the last 50 years or so this country has moved in the opposite direction. The "separation of church and state" has been carried to absurd extremes which I'm sure the founding fathers never intended.

It's been open season on Christians while at the same time the tender sensitivites of Muslims, Jews and atheists must be pandered to.

If Mr. Phillips wants to talk about theocracies, he should turn his gaze elsehere. How about Afghanistan where a Christian convert faced the death sentence for abandoning Islam? How about Iran where the ayatollayhs have the final say? Saudi Arabia anyone? These countries are truly theocracies. But in the U.S. you are perfectly free to follow any religion or no religion at all and suffer no penalties. So how, by any stretch of the imagination could Kevin Phillips make any claims about an imminent American Theocracy. Stupid!

Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:44 pm

Cosima
Perhaps he’s referring to the evangelic quacks who re-elected Bush—ya know, the one’s who think the earth is 6000 years old—funny though, there are no mention of dinosaurs having a seat in Noah’s Arc

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Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Apr 12, 2006 3:48 pm

Ted wrote:Cosima
Perhaps he’s referring to the evangelic quacks who re-elected Bush—ya know, the one’s who think the earth is 6000 years old—funny though, there are no mention of dinosaurs having a seat in Noah’s Arc
No, he's just gone off the deep end in his hatred of the Bushes.
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Ted

Post by Ted » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:38 pm

How can anyone hate GHWB?
And as far as W--nice people do not hate the mentally disabled

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Post by Holden Fourth » Wed Apr 12, 2006 4:59 pm

Ted wrote:How can anyone hate GHWB?
And as far as W--nice people do not hate the mentally disabled
Or those who are delusional.

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Post by Lilith » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:27 pm

Phillips doesn't have a bad track record. Cosima: You'd be wise to read the book.

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Post by Ralph » Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:24 pm

Clear and Present Dangers The New York Times March 19, 2006 Sunday


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
The New York Times

March 19, 2006 Sunday
Late Edition - Final

SECTION: Section 7; Column 1; Book Review Desk; Pg. 1

LENGTH: 1664 words

HEADLINE: Clear and Present Dangers

BYLINE: By Alan Brinkley.

Alan Brinkley is the Allan Nevins professor of history and the provost at Columbia University.

BODY:


AMERICAN

THEOCRACY

The Peril and Politics

of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century.

By Kevin Phillips.

462 pp. Viking. $26.95.

OUR decades ago, Kevin Phillips, a young political strategist for the Republican Party, began work on what became a remarkable book. In writing ''The Emerging Republican Majority'' (published in 1969), he asked a very big question about American politics: How would the demographic and economic changes of postwar America shape the long-term future of the two major parties? His answer, startling at the time but now largely unquestioned, is that the movement of people and resources from the old Northern industrial states into the South and the West (an area he enduringly labeled the ''Sun Belt'') would produce a new and more conservative Republican majority that would dominate American politics for decades. Phillips viewed the changes he predicted with optimism. A stronger Republican Party, he believed, would restore stability and order to a society experiencing disorienting and at times violent change. Shortly before publishing his book, he joined the Nixon administration to help advance the changes he had foreseen.

Phillips has remained a prolific and important political commentator in the decades since, but he long ago abandoned his enthusiasm for the Republican coalition he helped to build. His latest book (his 13th) looks broadly and historically at the political world the conservative coalition has painstakingly constructed over the last several decades. No longer does he see Republican government as a source of stability and order. Instead, he presents a nightmarish vision of ideological extremism, catastrophic fiscal irresponsibility, rampant greed and dangerous shortsightedness. (His final chapter is entitled ''The Erring Republican Majority.'') In an era of best-selling jeremiads on both sides of the political divide, ''American Theocracy'' may be the most alarming analysis of where we are and where we may be going to have appeared in many years. It is not without polemic, but unlike many of the more glib and strident political commentaries of recent years, it is extensively researched and for the most part frighteningly persuasive.

Although Phillips is scathingly critical of what he considers the dangerous policies of the Bush administration, he does not spend much time examining the ideas and behavior of the president and his advisers. Instead, he identifies three broad and related trends -- none of them new to the Bush years but all of them, he believes, exacerbated by this administration's policies -- that together threaten the future of the United States and the world. One is the role of oil in defining and, as Phillips sees it, distorting American foreign and domestic policy. The second is the ominous intrusion of radical Christianity into politics and government. And the third is the astonishing levels of debt -- current and prospective -- that both the government and the American people have been heedlessly accumulating. If there is a single, if implicit, theme running through the three linked essays that form this book, it is the failure of leaders to look beyond their own and the country's immediate ambitions and desires so as to plan prudently for a darkening future.

The American press in the first days of the Iraq war reported extensively on the Pentagon's failure to post American troops in front of the National Museum in Baghdad, which, as a result, was looted of many of its great archaeological treasures. Less widely reported, but to Phillips far more meaningful, was the immediate posting of troops around the Iraqi Oil Ministry, which held the maps and charts that were the key to effective oil production. Phillips fully supports an explanation of the Iraq war that the Bush administration dismisses as conspiracy theory -- that its principal purpose was to secure vast oil reserves that would enable the United States to control production and to lower prices. (''Think of Iraq as a military base with a very large oil reserve underneath,'' an oil analyst said a couple of years ago. ''You can't ask for better than that.'') Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, tyranny, democracy and other public rationales were, Phillips says, simply ruses to disguise the real motivation for the invasion.

And while this argument may be somewhat too simplistic to explain the complicated mix of motives behind the war, it is hard to dismiss Phillips's larger argument: that the pursuit of oil has for at least 30 years been one of the defining elements of American policy in the world; and that the Bush administration -- unusually dominated by oilmen -- has taken what the president deplored recently as the nation's addiction to oil to new and terrifying levels. The United States has embraced a kind of ''petro-imperialism,'' Phillips writes, ''the key aspect of which is the U.S. military's transformation into a global oil-protection force,'' and which ''puts up a democratic facade, emphasizes freedom of the seas (or pipeline routes) and seeks to secure, protect, drill and ship oil, not administer everyday affairs.''

Phillips is especially passionate in his discussion of the second great force that he sees shaping contemporary American life -- radical Christianity and its growing intrusion into government and politics. The political rise of evangelical Christian groups is hardly a secret to most Americans after the 2004 election, but Phillips brings together an enormous range of information from scholars and journalists and presents a remarkably comprehensive and chilling picture of the goals and achievements of the religious right.

He points in particular to the Southern Baptist Convention, once a scorned seceding minority of the American Baptist Church but now so large that it dominates not just Baptism itself but American Protestantism generally. The Southern Baptist Convention does not speak with one voice, but almost all of its voices, Phillips argues, are to one degree or another highly conservative. On the far right is a still obscure but, Phillips says, rapidly growing group of ''Christian Reconstructionists'' who believe in a ''Taliban-like'' reversal of women's rights, who describe the separation of church and state as a ''myth'' and who call openly for a theocratic government shaped by Christian doctrine. A much larger group of Protestants, perhaps as many as a third of the population, claims to believe in the supposed biblical prophecies of an imminent ''rapture'' -- the return of Jesus to the world and the elevation of believers to heaven.

Prophetic Christians, Phillips writes, often shape their view of politics and the world around signs that charlatan biblical scholars have identified as predictors of the apocalypse -- among them a war in Iraq, the Jewish settlement of the whole of biblical Israel, even the rise of terrorism. He convincingly demonstrates that the Bush administration has calculatedly reached out to such believers and encouraged them to see the president's policies as a response to premillennialist thought. He also suggests that the president and other members of his administration may actually believe these things themselves, that religious belief is the basis of policy, not just a tactic for selling it to the public. Phillips's evidence for this disturbing claim is significant, but not conclusive.

THE third great impending crisis that Phillips identifies is also, perhaps, the best known -- the astonishing rise of debt as the precarious underpinning of the American economy. He is not, of course, the only observer who has noted the dangers of indebtedness. The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, for example, frequently writes about the looming catastrophe. So do many more-conservative economists, who point especially to future debt -- particularly the enormous obligation, which Phillips estimates at between $30 trillion and $40 trillion, that Social Security and health care demands will create in the coming decades. The most familiar debt is that of the United States government, fueled by soaring federal budget deficits that have continued (with a brief pause in the late 1990's) for more than two decades. But the national debt -- currently over $8 trillion -- is only the tip of the iceberg. There has also been an explosion of corporate debt, state and local bonded debt, international debt through huge trade imbalances, and consumer debt (mostly in the form of credit-card balances and aggressively marketed home-mortgage packages). Taken together, this present and future debt may exceed $70 trillion.

The creation of a national-debt culture, Phillips argues, although exacerbated by the policies of the Bush administration, has been the work of many people over many decades -- among them Alan Greenspan, who, he acidly notes, blithely and irresponsibly ignored the rising debt to avoid pricking the stock-market bubble it helped produce. It is most of all a product of the ''financialization'' of the American economy -- the turn away from manufacturing and toward an economy based on moving and managing money, a trend encouraged, Phillips argues persuasively, by the preoccupation with oil and (somewhat less persuasively) with evangelical belief in the imminent rapture, which makes planning for the future unnecessary.

There is little in ''American Theocracy'' that is wholly original to Phillips, as he frankly admits by his frequent reference to the work of other writers and scholars. What makes this book powerful in spite of the familiarity of many of its arguments is his rare gift for looking broadly and structurally at social and political change. By describing a series of major transformations, by demonstrating the relationships among them and by discussing them with passionate restraint, Phillips has created a harrowing picture of national danger that no American reader will welcome, but that none should ignore.
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Post by RebLem » Wed Apr 12, 2006 9:24 pm

Ted wrote:How can anyone hate GHWB?
And as far as W--nice people do not hate the mentally disabled
Read American Dynasty also by Kevin Phillips and find out. GW? No, I agree with you, but Darth Cheney is an entirely different matter.

Powell had to leave the Administration because he was the only one who told Pretzel Prez any unpleasant truths. When it turned out that he was right and everybody else was wrong, it just became increasingly obvious that he didn't fit in, so he had to leave.

And I'm getting pretty sick and tired of the oversimplification that pervades our political life. Yes, I do believe that GW probably puts on a damn good barbecue. But remember, as one of Mel Brooks' characters says of Hitler in The Producers, "He vas such a vonderful dancer!"
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Post by FrankAderholdt » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:10 am

Thanks, Cosima, for starting this thread -- and especially for the apt title!

My experience has been that calm, rational discussion of this subject in a forum like this is next to impossible. Christians (correctly, in my view) will always point to misrepresentations, distortions, half-truths, and sheer ignorance of their views. Non-Christians, "secularists," and the left wing will tend to lump all religious people together, use extreme examples as the norm, throw out the "T-word" (Taliban) and think it's an argument, drag in the Inquisition and the Crusades, toss in a burning witch or two, and generally react in self-righteous horror at anyone who actually wants to apply his faith to real-world conditions. So the projectiles (from snowballs to H-bombs) are tossed back and forth.

I simply ask that people try to read what people are actually saying rather than what others say about them. I haven't read American Theocracy and can't comment on it. If anyone thinks that President Bush is a real conservative religiously or politically, however, he understands neither politics nor religion. (Oops, I just threw a bomb myself!)
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Post by FrankAderholdt » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:30 am

The following is a relevant article from Gary DeMar at www.americanvision.org. Mr. DeMar is one of the leading popular Christian writers on these topics. (If you want to know what the serious, grass-roots thinkers on the "religious right" are saying now, turn to American Vision on a daily basis.) I would be surprised if he weren't quoted in American Theocracy. DeMar's article below is a standard summary of the historic Christian position on the necessity for a higher law to govern civil society. Depending on your perspective, you may view it as stating the obvious or stumping for theocracy. When Western civilization was generally informed by Biblical values, however, DeMar's remarks would be considered foundational truths:

God Among the Governors
by Gary DeMar

Garry Wills has caused quite a stir with his article “Christ Among the Partisans,” published in the New York Times (April 9, 2006). I won’t rehearse the arguments presented by Eric Rauch in yesterday’s article.1 What I will do is describe, briefly, why it’s necessary that civil government and its governors to acknowledge the sovereign government of God (Isa. 9:6–7). While more Christians are steadily being convinced that the Bible has something to say about some social issues, like family and education where an immediate and personal moral impact is felt, there are others who still have trouble with a biblical view of economics, law, morality, and civil government. Like oil and water, religion and civil government are said not to mix. When the Bible does address civil issues, the argument is made that it only does so in the context of a necessary and unavoidable evil. In this view, civil government is more than dirty, it’s downright diabolic.

The claim is not being made that civil government (the political or legislative process) should be used to change or reform men and women (though the fear of punishment has an effect on people who might consider committing a crime). The purpose of God’s law as it relates to the civil magistrate is to restrain evil actions, to protect human life and property, and to provide justice for all people as it relates to its civil jurisdiction. Only God can regenerate the heart. An individual cannot be made good by keeping the law or being threatened with civil reprisals. The law is a tutor to lead us to Christ (Gal. 3:24) and a standard by which we know if we are conforming to the moral will of God (1 Tim. 1:8–11). People who follow the law make good citizens. Those who despise the law are a terror to others. Thomas Hobbes asks, “For what reason do men armed, and have locks and keys to fasten their doors, if they be not naturally in a state of war?”2

When the Bible speaks to civil affairs, civil rulers have a duty to heed its commands. How will rulers determine what is good or evil unless there is a transcendent law to consult? (Rom. 13:4). Where God’s law is not the standard, there can be no objective gauge for civil officials to follow. Law becomes arbitrary, and in the hands of tyrants, it becomes oppressive. In a dictatorship or monarchy, laws are implemented that benefit the one in power. Political favors are discharged to keep competitors at bay. In a democracy, rulers are governed by the demands of the majority with political favors dispensed to special interest groups to insure a large enough voting block to maintain power.

While it’s true that the Bible’s primary concern is not politics, the same could be said about the family and church. And yet, there are few Christians who would maintain that Christians should not be involved in developing biblical models for the family and church even though the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the Bible.

Because there is sin in the world, God has created temporal ways of dealing with it. In family government, God has designated mothers and fathers as rulers (governors) to admonish and discipline their children because children tend to disobey their parents (Eph. 6:1–3). The “rod of correction” is one instrument of discipline (Prov. 13:24). The reason for church government, including its laws and discipline, is the reality of sin even among Christians (e.g., 1 Cor. 5–6). Paul outlines ways for churches, as ecclesiastical governments with real and necessary authority, to handle disputes (1 Cor. 6:1-11).3

Civil government has been given authority to maintain order in society, to punish evildoers and to promote the good (Gen. 9:5–6; Rom. 13:1–6; 1 Pet. 2:13–14). Essentially, civil governments have jurisdiction over what people do. As Thomas Jefferson put it, “the legislative powers of government reach actions only.”4 But what actions deserve punishment? Left to itself, history has shown that civil governments can be notoriously unjust and tyrannical. Genocide has been committed against racial and ethnic groups with the full approval of civil governments. With no moral reference point outside the State, civil governments are not bound by ethical constraints. For example, “In 1933, it was officially declared in Germany that the final authority as to the principles of the State and the law is the National Socialistic German Workers’ Party; that no other political party could be formed; and that the Fuehrer should make its laws.”5

The civil realm is not a necessary evil; it’s necessary because of evil (Gen. 4:4–15, 23–24; 9:5–7). The sword is the State’s God-ordained instrument of “wrath.” This is why the “law is not made for a righteous man, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers. . .” (1 Tim. 1:9–10). Since civil government has the power of the sword, it is incumbent upon Christians to get involved in politics to ensure that political officials use it wisely and with restraint.

Secularism has become the official state religion in many nations. Social theorist Herbert Schlossberg observes: “Western society, in turning away from the Christian faith, has turned to other things. This process is commonly called secularization, but that conveys only the negative aspect. The word connotes the turning away from the worship of God while ignoring the fact that something is being turned to in its place.”6 Some ideology, always religious in nature, will fill the vacuum left by the exodus of the Christian faith.


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1. Eric Rauch, “Garry Wills’ America”

2. Quoted in Baron De Montesquieu, The Spirit of Laws, trans. Thomas Nugent, 2 vols. (London: G. Bell and Sons, Ltd., 1914), 1:4

3. Horace L. Fenton, Jr., When Christians Clash: How to Prevent and Resolve the Pain of Conflict (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1987); Lynn R. Buzzard and Thomas S. Brandon, Jr., Church Discipline and the Courts (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1987); Lynn R. Buzzard and Laurence Eck, Tell It to the Church: Reconciling Out of Court (Elgin, IL: David C. Cook, 1982).

4. Thomas Jefferson, Letter to the Danbury Baptists, 1802.

5. William L. Burdick, The Bench and Bar of Other Lands (Brooklyn: Metropolitan Law Book Co., 1939), 422.

6. Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: The Conflict of Christian Faith and American Culture (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, [1983] 1993), 6.


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Gary DeMar is president of American Vision and the author of more than 20 books. His latest is Myths, Lies, and Half Truths.
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Post by FrankAderholdt » Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:41 am

Another recent article by Gary Demar from http://www.americanvision.org, sure to raise a few prickly porcupine quills. For you historians of the "culture wars" out there, remember that this is primary source material:

Pluralism's Trojan Horse
by Gary DeMar

The Bible has been taken seriously by numerous generations of Christians both in the Old World and the New World. These facts are undisputed, although current publications are attempting to obscure the biblical foundation of our nation’s history.1

Even those who reject the Christian worldview are honest enough to admit that it was Christianity, and the particulars of biblical law, that brought development to the West. We forget John Winthrop’s harsh words concerning the ills of democracy as “a manifest breach of the 5th commandment for a Democracy is, among most Civil nations, accounted the meanest and worst of all forms of Government.”2

John Cotton voiced similar sentiments, describing democracy as an unfit “government either for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed?” 3 Why such denouncements? There certainly was no aversion to the democratic process, although certain restrictions were placed on the right to vote, like the requirement of land ownership. The democratic process must be checked by some fixed law code.

The Fundamentals which God gave, to the [Commonwealth] of Israel, were a sufficient Rule to them, to guide all their affairs: We having the same, with all the Additions, explanations and deductions, which have followed.4

This older worldview is now only a distant memory in the minds of most Christians. At the seminary level, the concept of a biblical worldview is taught more as a history lesson than a positive agenda for reform.

There is talk about the development and implementation of a biblical worldview, but few people actually believe that the Christian community will ever be able successful in implementing such a vision for society.

What is replacing the firm foundation of a biblical worldview? Appeals are being made to natural law, general revelation, and common grace as seemingly full, independent, and reliable standards of ethical inquiry. The Bible appears to have become only one ethical standard among many, part of a “smorgasbord ethic.” Problems with such a view are monumental.

“Pluralism” is the new catch phrase of those within and without the Christian community. Of course, the term means different things to different people. This is its danger, similar to the dangers that Winthrop and Cotton saw in democracy.

Pluralism refers to a diversity of religions, worldviews, and ideologies existing at one time in the same society. We are socially heterogeneous. One religion or philosophy doesn't command and control our culture. Instead, many viewpoints exist. We have Buddhists and Baptists, Christian Reformed and Christian Scientist—all on the same block, or at least in the same city. This can have a leveling effect on religious faith.5

With the leveling of religion, we are seeing the leveling of morality. All lifestyles are permitted in the name of diversity and pluralism. In nearly every case, Christians are the losers.

Pluralism is the bait for Christians to embrace a distinctiveless Christianity in the name of “peace.” We are to “trust” secular and religious advocates of pluralism since we all share common concerns. Christians are encouraged to set aside only a few of the distinct doctrines of the Christian faith. Once these are discarded, Christians are free to speak on any subject as long as biblical absolutes are left out of the equation. Supposedly we have entered the era of the “new and improved pluralism where Christians will be respected and taken into account as social policy is formulated in terms of a “New World Order” where religion never becomes an issue. Europe is the modern-day model. “Former French president Valery Giscard d’Estaing . . . summed up the dominant view: ‘Europeans live in a purely secular political system, where religion does not play an important role.’”6

The call for Christians to adopt pluralism is just another way of diluting the truth. Pluralism becomes a club to pound out the theological bumps that makes Christianity unique among all the religions of the world. And what is the fruit of the new and improved pluralist worldview?

As soon as the words “Our pluralistic society will not permit . . .” are uttered, Nativity scenes are dismantled, Christmas vacation becomes Winter Holiday, and a moment of silence in public schools is no longer merely a vain illusion but a prohibited sin against pluralism. But say “Our pluralistic society requires. . .” and homosexual activists receive affirmative action support for job demands, parents need not be notified of a minor daughter's intention to abort their grandchild, and Rotary Clubs and saunas are [made]. . . unisex. Whether or not one endorses pluralism seems to be a litmus test for whether one is persona grata in the modern world.7

The pluralists, in their desire to be heard, have abandoned the very thing that will make a fundamental difference in the world: Jesus Christ and the uniqueness of God's written revelation.


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1. Mark A. Noll, et al., The Search for Christian America (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1983).

2. John Winthrop, Winthrop Papers, 5 vols. (Boston, MA: Massachusetts Historical Society, [1498–1649] 1929–1947), 4:382–383. Quoted in Edwin Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts: 1620–1692 (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1966), 55.

3. Quoted in Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts , 55.

4. Winthrop, “Discourse on Arbitrary Government,” Winthrop Papers, 5:473. Quoted in Powers, Crime and Punishment in Early Massachusetts , 253.

5. Douglas Groothuis, “The Smorgasbord Mentality,” Eternity (May 1985), 32.

6. James P. Gannon, “Is God dead in Europe?,” USA Today (January 9, 2006), 11A.

7. Harold O. J. Brown, “Pluralism in Miniature,” Chronicles (May 1988), 13.


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Gary DeMar is president of American Vision and the author of more than 20 books. His latest is Myths, Lies, and Half Truths.
"Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise." -- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Cosima__J

Post by Cosima__J » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:26 am

Seems to me like Kevin Phillips is a chicken little crying that the sky is falling concerning the fear of an American theocracy. He needs to step back from his political ideology, take a deep breath and examine all of the obvious facts in contemporary American life which prove that such a fear is highly misplaced.

I'd venture to say that most American Christians don't want the government run by Christian ministers. I can only speak from my own experience as a moderate Methodist, but I have never heard a minister push a political agenda from the pulpit or any other church gathering. The Methodist church does support many charities, in the US and worldwide, but these favor neither Democrats or Republicans, just people in need.

The main exception to churches meddling in politics would be black churches. Also, perhaps, some Muslim mosques?

Is Mr. Phillips worried about women's rights being supressed? Ridiculous! Does he have his panties in a wad that there might be a future of forced conversions to Christianity, a la the Spanish Inquistion and the excesses of the Protestant Reformation? Equally absurd.

Maybe Phillips is worried that conservative social policies are favored by many Christians. Ah, now I think we getting more to the point of his book. However, I would just point out to him that in a free and democratic country, social conservatives have just as much a right to express their opinions as do liberals.

Cosima__J

Post by Cosima__J » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:30 am

I would just add that I do share some of Kevin Phillips' concern about debt, both personal and national. How can we go on year after year increasing our trade imbalances and debt???

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:32 am

Ted wrote:How can anyone hate GHWB?
Mr. Genuinely Nice Guy, but the Original Amiable Dunce. He was almost as clueless as Carter, but not nearly as dangerously degrading.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:34 am

RebLem wrote:Powell had to leave the Administration because he was the only one who told Pretzel Prez any unpleasant truths.
More liberal dogma.
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Post by Barry » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:49 am

Even as someone who considers himself a secular materialist (not in the sense that I deny the possibility of anything beyond the material world; but in that I accept that I'll never know the answers to such questions and have decided to just live the best life I can in the material world........I simply can't accept that we were placed here for the purpose of worshipping our creator), I think many on the left have lost all sense of proportionality when they start making comparisons between the Taliban and the Iranian mullahs on the one hand and the American Christian right on the other.
We don't need the military to deal with the Christian right (activist judges on the other hand...:) ). People like those who murder doctors who perform abortions are abborations; and few and far between. If the Christian right ever gained enough control of the government to start enacting the types of legislation they'd like to enact, they'd be voted out of office in a heartbeat.
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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:30 pm

Hey, Barry, I was about to round up a search party and go lookin' for ya.
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Post by Ralph » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:40 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:Hey, Barry, I was about to round up a search party and go lookin' for ya.
*****

I heard that Barry has gone wild making strange new milkshake recipes. :)
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Post by Barry » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:43 pm

I went with a hot fudge sundae today 8) .

Thanks for the concern. I had outpatient eye surgery Tuesday to attempt to repair deterioration in recent years in the same eye in which I had a cornea transplant when I was 18. I'm cutting way back on my on-line time until the eye feels normal again (hopefully within a few days).
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred that it be postponed." - Winston Churchill

"Before I refuse to take your questions, I have an opening statement." - Ronald Reagan

http://www.davidstuff.com/political/wmdquotes.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pbp0hur ... re=related

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Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Apr 13, 2006 3:58 pm

Barry Z wrote:I went with a hot fudge sundae today 8) .
Gather ye sundaes while ye may, you skinny young guys. - Robert Herrick
Thanks for the concern. I had outpatient eye surgery Tuesday to attempt to repair deterioration in recent years in the same eye in which I had a cornea transplant when I was 18. I'm cutting way back on my on-line time until the eye feels normal again (hopefully within a few days).
Thanks for the report. I vaguely remember that you were going to have to have additional surgery on your eye.

I saw your guy Miller from your signature last night on the History Channel's 10 Days that Changed America and thought of you immediately. :D
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Post by Ralph » Thu Apr 13, 2006 7:35 pm

Barry Z wrote:I went with a hot fudge sundae today 8) .

Thanks for the concern. I had outpatient eye surgery Tuesday to attempt to repair deterioration in recent years in the same eye in which I had a cornea transplant when I was 18. I'm cutting way back on my on-line time until the eye feels normal again (hopefully within a few days).
******

Good luck. Hope you heal very fast!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Jun 17, 2006 12:26 pm

At Impower's request, I've moved this thread back to the Pub for fuller discussion.
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Post by Werner » Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:29 pm

Corlyss: here you go with more accusations of "liberal dogma,"
but you let right wing dogma pass you by uchallenged. So someone has to do it for you, right?
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Post by pizza » Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:45 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:
RebLem wrote:Powell had to leave the Administration because he was the only one who told Pretzel Prez any unpleasant truths.
More liberal dogma.
If it's true, it wouldn't be the first time, Corlyss -- don't forget that MacArthur got fired from Give-'em-hell-Harry's top military job for the unpleasant truths he told the country about Korea and China that have already been borne out during the last 50 plus years.

But you know, liberals think it's OK when liberals do it! :wink:

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Post by Werner » Sat Jun 17, 2006 3:40 pm

Well, look how far we've fallen - from Truman to Bush!

This is progress?
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Post by lmpower » Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:19 pm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have always admired Kevin Phillips as a clear thinking, objective analyst rather than a biased ideologue. I finally got around to reading "American Theocracy." I recommend that everyone else read the book. The reviews give a good picture of the overall plan of the book, but actually reading it has filled in a wealth of detail. His thesis is that oil, debt, fundamentalism and imperialism may be undermining the future of America. Phillips has grown disgusted with the drift of the Republican party but can't bring himself to embrace the Democrats either. The title refers to the influence of the religious right on the Republican party. My study of history leads me to regard its unfolding as a swinging pendulum. The general drift has been away from religion for a long time, but there is a reaction underway in contemporary America and in the Muslim world. A Bavarian lady once asked me why there are so many religious fanatics in America. I replied that this country was originally settled by religious dissenters from Europe. Phillips expresses much the same idea in this book.

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Post by BWV 1080 » Sat Jun 17, 2006 8:38 pm

The basic problem with these theories of impending theocracy is that the various ultra-conservative Christian groups are so at war with one another theologically, they could never join forces into any coherent political force beyond voting in tandem on certain issues. Conservative Southern Baptists, Traditionalist Catholics, Reconstructionist Presbyterians etc. all think the others are rank heretics. Liberals typically do not understand that the theological difference between these groups are very important to the members and give them their sense of identity. Historical sectarian antagonisms are as much alive among these groups as they were in the 16th century.

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Post by pizza » Sun Jun 18, 2006 3:16 am

Werner wrote:Well, look how far we've fallen - from Truman to Bush!

This is progress?
During a war, Bush got rid a defeatist. Truman got rid of a warrior. It isn't difficult to determine which president did the most damage to our strategic interests, our military and to our national morale.

The situation in Iraq is beginning to turn in our favor. We're still paying for the consequences of Truman's error.

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Post by paulb » Sun Jun 18, 2006 7:04 am

I can see how the price of oil will further deterioate average family's income. But remember central america, south america (minus venesula, pays 12 cents/gal) and europe pays $6/gal.
Debt, yep everyone is loaded to the max with that evil, as necessary as it is sometimes.
Fundamentalism, have to go with BWV's ideas, the family is split in hundreds of sects. Even catholic churches from neighboring parishes don't relate to one another, hardly. And the assembly of god are fragmented into their own thing. Can't you just see it, Billy Grahm, Jerryt Farwell and Pat Robinson going up capitol hill steps going to work. HA! Then we'd all be shipping off to atheistic russia, god forbid.
Imperialism. i see this term banied about, but not conviced this is what america is doing as its ONLY purpose oversesas. I recall a member from another classical forum believing that america got what it deserved in the Sept 11, 2001 World Trade Center attacks. "for our imperialistic attitude around the world". Of course he didn't directly come out and say this, but easily inferred.
As to these idiots blaming Bush on all our evils, ie the war with Iraq. Keep in mind in a Jungian perspective the collective unconscious works in mysterious ways, the fundamentalists would say "i think i see the hand of god in this" This world is more complex than just one individual man pushing the buttons. IOW there's more behind the secenes than Bush pulling strings.
The one gripe I have with rupublican party is its anti freedom of choice in abortion, Bush so happens to be anti-abortion, Chenny pro-choice.
That is my main beef with the republicans, they are not 100% behind free choice for a womans decision to abort. Lets see, if Bush is anti-choice, then the democrats should be pro-choice...hummm not sure how thats going to work out. The democrats are a funny group of folk, they automatically go against whatever the republicans stand for. Without even giving the isuue any thought. They are like little puppets on strings.
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Post by lmpower » Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:28 pm

Regarding oil: it isn't just the drain on the economy but also becoming dependent on people like Chavez and Ahmadinejad.
Regarding debt: it's a bad sign when both government and consumers become so heavily beholden to Asian creditors.
Regarding imperialism: Phillips is not so much concerned with the morality of trying to run the world as the phenomenon of imperial overstretch. The question is whether it is a good investment to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from China in order to try and establish utopia in Afghanistan and Iraq. Might we not wind up weakening ourselves?
Regarding theocracy: there isn't much danger of an outright theocracy being established in the USA. Phillips is referring to the fact that a Republican candidate doen't have a chance of being nominated to the presidency without support of the religious right. Look at McCain trying to ingratiate himself with Jerry Falwell now. Bush was clever enough to get the support of people like Bob Jones when he was running in 2000. Phillips fears that religious fundamentalism may supplant science. That would obviously put us at a competitive disadvantage.

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Post by paulb » Sun Jun 18, 2006 4:34 pm

lmpower wrote:Regarding oil: it isn't just the drain on the economy but also becoming dependent on people like Chavez and Ahmadinejad.
Regarding debt: it's a bad sign when both government and consumers become so heavily beholden to Asian creditors.
Regarding imperialism: Phillips is not so much concerned with the morality of trying to run the world as the phenomenon of imperial overstretch. The question is whether it is a good investment to borrow hundreds of billions of dollars from China in order to try and establish utopia in Afghanistan and Iraq. Might we not wind up weakening ourselves?
Regarding theocracy: there isn't much danger of an outright theocracy being established in the USA. Phillips is referring to the fact that a Republican candidate doen't have a chance of being nominated to the presidency without support of the religious right. Look at McCain trying to ingratiate himself with Jerry Falwell now. Bush was clever enough to get the support of people like Bob Jones when he was running in 2000. Phillips fears that religious fundamentalism may supplant science. That would obviously put us at a competitive disadvantage.

Very good post, indeed. i like your observations, which I cannot followup right now, off to Barnes And nobel for a book out from abritish gal, Philips, called londonistan. she was featured on Cspan/Book reviews.
Really spot on author about the islamic issues in britain.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Sun Jun 18, 2006 5:23 pm

lmpower wrote:--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have always admired Kevin Phillips as a clear thinking, objective analyst rather than a biased ideologue.
He went off the deep end with his hatred of Bush and the Bush family. He's spent the last . . . what? . . . 3 books "exposing" them and the horse they rode in on. Now he's gone after the segments of the populist forces that put Bush in office. Enough already!
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Post by lmpower » Mon Jun 19, 2006 11:23 am

I don't think his hatred of Bush undermines the validity of the arguments in this book. We do have a problem with oil, debt, Iraq and our students are falling behind in science.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 19, 2006 1:21 pm

lmpower wrote:I don't think his hatred of Bush undermines the validity of the arguments in this book. We do have a problem with oil, debt, Iraq and our students are falling behind in science.
Well, there's a flash. He should alert the media. I'm sorry, Im., but I just can't get excited about his "revelations" when I've heard it all and read it all from a variety of sources along the way and he don't add anything. I don't know why he bothered, except to equate the religious right in this country with the Taliban and fundamentalist Muslims. For him to even attempt such a thing might ring true with the op-ed crowd at NYT but he's not the first and it betrays so profound a misunderstanding of American society that it undermines any principled reliance on what he has to say. I'll quote Niall Ferguson anytime I have to make a point that Phillips makes, with the exception of the silliness about America becoming a theocracy. Ferguson, an economic history professor and prolific author, is not so deluded.
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Post by Werner » Mon Jun 19, 2006 3:15 pm

I've been looking at this thread on and off, and of course have not been deaf to the issue all the years it has played out.

And I believe there is a misperception in the various comments here, and the interpretation of Phillips' title.

I don't believe that anyone here is syaing that a theocracy is imminent in the US. There are too many diverse trends for that to happen anytime soon - and long may that be true.

What I have seen over the decades - and I belive that's what the author is driving at - is the perception that America is a Christian nation - leading to the notion among some evangelicals, in particular, that it should be ruled by Christian precepts. That's gettibng pretty close to the idea of a theaocracy, in some minds.

What's wrong with that concept is that it tends to freeze out any but Christian observance, and that can get pretty overbearing and exclusive, even with threatening elements, depending on where you are.

The truth, as I see it, is that we do have a majority of Christians in this country, whose sacred right it is to practice their religion freely - just as it is the right of others to follow their own convictions. I'll leave it to the experts to cite the chapter and verse. But that way, we'll continue to have a denmocracy, and not a theocracy.
Werner Isler

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Post by paulb » Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:13 pm

Werner wrote:I've been looking at this thread on and off, and of course have not been deaf to the issue all the years it has played out.

And I believe there is a misperception in the various comments here, and the interpretation of Phillips' title.

I don't believe that anyone here is syaing that a theocracy is imminent in the US. There are too many diverse trends for that to happen anytime soon - and long may that be true.

What I have seen over the decades - and I belive that's what the author is driving at - is the perception that America is a Christian nation - leading to the notion among some evangelicals, in particular, that it should be ruled by Christian precepts. That's gettibng pretty close to the idea of a theaocracy, in some minds.

What's wrong with that concept is that it tends to freeze out any but Christian observance, and that can get pretty overbearing and exclusive, even with threatening elements, depending on where you are.

The truth, as I see it, is that we do have a majority of Christians in this country, whose sacred right it is to practice their religion freely - just as it is the right of others to follow their own convictions. I'll leave it to the experts to cite the chapter and verse. But that way, we'll continue to have a denmocracy, and not a theocracy.
good post, and as i christian (far from fundamentalism though, far indeed...hehe..) may I say, I couldn't agree more. Please no Pat Robertson, Farwell's for any office. None.
Seems there are groups among christians , big churches especially, that feel like their #'s are growing, and they are gaining in power , politically speaking. But they are delusional to believe that christians will "rule the world" as do the muslims believe so. Yeah I'm aware that each religion's eschatology says "we will one day rule". But I'm afriad both mis-interpret the authors ideas. Especially the muslims, as a few are doing everything possible to bring this ruling of Islam to a reality. "then the world will have peace' say both religions.
I should mention a church that is the largest in the US, Joel Ostein in Houston. Larry King has him on the show now and then. Has like 3 sunday services, packs in 20-30K each service, and packs em in when he travels. My wife and sister in law get 'a kick" out of his sermons, they think he's the greatest. His themes boils down to nothing you can't get right out the bible for oneself, and is mixed with that school of positive thinking that flourished around the early part of this century in the US, the Norman Peale lingo in a new form. I guess if it does the listener some good, OK by me.
So you see folks flocking to this guy, and some get carried away with impressions, thinking, "we christians will take this country by storm".
Just ain't gonna happen.
No theocracy for me, especially not the fundamentalist brand.
Psalm 118:22 The Stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord's doing , it is marvelous in our sight.

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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:49 pm

Werner wrote:Corlyss: here you go with more accusations of "liberal dogma,"
but you let right wing dogma pass you by uchallenged. So someone has to do it for you, right?
I'm a partisan, Werner. I'm not about "fair and balanced." As I've said before, I'm not undecided any more. I've made up my mind. What part of "partisan" don't you understand?

I ain't gonna challenge the positions I think are right. That's where you guys come in! That's your job if you think liberal dogma is right :wink: But you better have as many facts in support of your position as I have for mine. 8)
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Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jun 19, 2006 4:56 pm

Werner wrote:I don't believe that anyone here is syaing that a theocracy is imminent in the US. There are too many diverse trends for that to happen anytime soon - and long may that be true.

What I have seen over the decades - and I belive that's what the author is driving at - is the perception that America is a Christian nation - leading to the notion among some evangelicals, in particular, that it should be ruled by Christian precepts. That's gettibng pretty close to the idea of a theaocracy, in some minds.
From Christine Rosen's review in WaPo:

But as the book's title suggests, it is the religious right that most occupies Phillips. He is not subtle in his descriptions of this group: "The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollahs." The GOP has been transformed into "the first religious party in U.S. history," Phillips argues, and it is ushering in an "American Disenlightenment" that rejects the separation of church and state and ignores the teachings of science.

Much of Phillips's focus is on the eschatology of evangelical, fundamentalist and Pentecostal Christians, including their understanding of the prophecies in the New Testament book of Revelation that describe the events leading to the world's end, events that some evangelicals believe may be foreshadowed by today's turmoil in the Middle East. "Conservative politicians understood that for true believers their imminent rapture and the subsequent second coming of Jesus Christ were the only endgame," Phillips argues. "We can estimate that for 20 to 30 percent of Christians, this chronology superseded or muted other issues," such as economic self-interest and the absence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But Phillips provides no source for this estimate. He also asserts, rather than proves, that such ideas animate the Bush administration -- worrying, for example, about "White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews."

This seems due in part to the low opinion Phillips has of born-again Christians, whom he sees as victims of a form of religious false consciousness. He argues that "Some 30 to 40 percent of the Bush electorate, many of whom might otherwise resent their employment conditions, credit-card debt, heating bills, or escalating costs of automobile upkeep . . . often subordinate these economic concerns to a broader religious preoccupation with biblical prophecy and the second coming of Jesus Christ."

But contrary to Phillips's claims, speculation about the doomsday-era "end times" -- which has been present among certain segments of America's Christian population for more than a century -- does not necessarily lead to the embrace of apocalyptic economic or foreign policy goals. It does not even guarantee sustained support for war; the percentage of white evangelical Christians who back the war in Iraq has dropped from 87 in 2003 to 68 in January 2006, according to Charles Marsh, an evangelical professor of religion at the University of Virginia. To suggest, as Phillips does, that the Bush administration, at the behest of born-again Christians, is intent on launching "international warfare to spread the gospel" is astonishingly simplistic.

This tendency for overstatement stems in part from Phillips's reliance on questionable sources, including partisan radio networks such as Air America and books (such as Esther Kaplan's With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House) that are far from balanced. He also cites statements by self-appointed evangelical spokesmen like Jerry Falwell as evidence of the religious right's extreme views. But a survey conducted last year by the PBS program "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" found that most evangelicals themselves view Falwell unfavorably. Phillips is more successful with his summaries of religious history, where he relies on the work of well-regarded scholars such as Mark Noll of Wheaton College and George Marsden of Notre Dame.

Yet even Phillips must admit that in terms of concrete policies, the so-called theocracy he describes has been surprisingly ineffective at turning its agenda into law. "As of this writing," he concedes, "none of the half-dozen pieces of quasi-theocratic legislation drafted by the religious right . . . had achieved passage, but the time could come." In fact, according to the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, white evangelicals' electoral influence is not on the rise; they constituted only 23 percent of the electorate in both 2000 and 2004. And the percentage of Bush voters who are white evangelicals remained constant at 36 percent in 2000 and 2004; as the Pew Center noted, Bush in 2004 "made relatively bigger gains among infrequent churchgoers than he did among religiously observant voters."

Still, Phillips sees the religious right's influence on nearly every major decision the Bush administration has made. He pins the invasion of Iraq not on the influence of advisers such as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld but on the power of "the tens of millions of true believers viewing events through a Left Behind perspective." Whether discussing oil, the economy or American faith, when Phillips abandons his thoughtful explorations of history for the present, he produces polemics ill-suited to his talents -- seemingly written for an audience that wants its prejudices reaffirmed rather than examined. Years from now, historians studying the early 21st century will be able to judge how many of Phillips's dire predictions proved prescient. Lately, even the Bush administration has given lip service to the idea that the country needs to reduce its dependence on foreign oil. But in his disillusionment with the GOP, Phillips has allowed intemperance to infect his analysis. As a result, what could have been a thoughtful critique has become yet another book that caters to partisan passions.


I leave it to you to decide if this is the benign characterization of American religious that you had in mind. Like I said in my reply to Impower, Phillips is just carrying his rabid hostility to Bush out to its "logical" conclusion and saying pretty much what the European headlines said after Bush's re-election: how could there be so many stupid and naive Americans?
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Post by Donald Isler » Mon Jun 19, 2006 5:06 pm

The numbers are not important to me. Each religious group has the right to espouse its views. But a situation where one group that is not tolerant gains significant power is not something to be wished for by most other people, especially if they belong to a minority. And Bush is as hungry for their support as Clinton ever was for any woman.
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