Michelle Goldberg (goldberg) Wed 6 Sep 06 08:04
Mark asked what people can do. A large part of what people need to do is be informed so they can act if, for example, someone from the Discovery Institute or an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center is invited to do a presentation in their public school, or if they hear politicians and pundits citing David Barton about America's Christian history. I have other suggestions for legislative initiatives in my book, and I recently joined the advisory board of an organization called the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, which runs media campaigns highlighting religious right misdeeds and promoting church/state separation. Maybe it would be more relevant, though, for me to tell you what some people *are* doing. As I mentioned before, last week I was in Cincinnati. Two amazing women, Janice and Marji, flew me out there. Janice and Marji are both really cool but also fairly normal suburban mothers who met during the Kerry campaign. They grew alarmed about the growth of the religious right in their state, and they started checking out right-wing churches and attending meetings of the Ohio Restoration Project, a group formed to mobilize right-wing "patriot pastors" for political action. Eventually, they contacted Chris Hedges -- the former New York Times war correspondent who also has a book coming out about the religious right -- and they went with him to the War on Christians Conference in DC, where a leading Ohio pastor, Rod Parsley, was speaking. (Parsley is a classic Christian nationalist demagogue -- his slogan is "lock and load."). They began contacting local leaders, religious and secular, and building coalitions against the religious right. They've brought several other speakers to town, and organized forums for community leaders to hear them. Once they started learning about this stuff, they realized that a crisis pregnancy center was teaching abstinence classes in their district's junior high school, and they successfully fought to replace it with a real health teacher. As a lot of you know, Ken Blackwell, the GOP candidate for governor in Ohio, is very close to the Christian nationalists, especially Parsley. He's way down in the polls, and I don't think he has much of a shot, but he's actually been running something of a stealth campaign so far, speaking at right-wing churches without giving his schedule either to the press or the general public. This in itself is kind of remarkable -- it's really quite difficult for ordinary citizens to figure out where to hear the man who is trying to become their governor. Marji and Janice have been tracking him, though, and trying to make sure there's at least a record of some of what he's saying. They're an amazing example of what people can do and are doing, and they give me reason for hope.
Berliner (captward) Wed 6 Sep 06 09:04
Yeah, that does sound wonderful. There was also a fine story about Parsley and Blackwell in the New Yorker about a month ago which was really eye-opening. The question I have, though, is whether there's a possibility for the Marji and Janices of the world to initiate a mass movement -- or whether it's necessary to do it on a mass scale when perhaps small campaigns like theirs are a more effective way to combat these folks.
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 6 Sep 06 12:29
This conversation has been both enlightening and chilling, and I thank you for joining us here for the past two weeks, Michelle and Mark. I know you have an incredibly hectic schedule, Michelle, but if you're able to stick around longer you're more than welcome to do so. This topic will remain open for further discussion indefinitely.
Gail Williams (gail) Wed 6 Sep 06 13:12
I've really enjoyed this. What a lot of powerful concepts. Thanks for all your work on this issue and this book, Michelle, and thanks for some excellent questions and comentary, Mark.
Dave (davidwag) Wed 6 Sep 06 21:25
Yes, thank you!
Michael Zentner (mz) Wed 6 Sep 06 22:02
Me too. I wasn't able to contribute, but the book is on my list to buy.
Mark McDonough (mcdee) Thu 7 Sep 06 05:53
Well worth the dinero. Lots of work and thought went into it and it's very well written.
John Payne (satyr) Fri 8 Sep 06 09:37
<scribbled by satyr Fri 8 Sep 06 09:58>
John Payne (satyr) Fri 8 Sep 06 09:58
While there are realtively straightforward measures for phenomena like sociopathology, "good" and "evil" are a little more slippery. One way of looking at it is that "evil" is the cerebral cortex's opinion of the hindbrain, and "good" its opinion of itself. A more subtle take is that it's about the cognitive styles of the two cerebral hemispheres, with "good" being the dominant hemisphere's opinion of itself and "evil" being its opinion of its counterpart. If this is accurate, well integrated individuals could be expected to not relate as strongly to the good/evil dichotomy as do those who are more dissociated.
David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Tue 19 Sep 06 11:54
This movie seems to tie in well here. Check out the trailer: <http://www.jesuscampthemovie.com/>
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 19 Sep 06 14:29
Yesterday's Fresh Air program on NPR featured interviews with John Hagee, the pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio and the founder of an organization called Christians United for Israel; Max Blumenthal, who wrote "Birth Pangs of a New Christian Zionism" for The Nation magazine; and Gershom Gorenberg, former associated editor of The Jerusalem Report. The Christian Zionists are scary, scary folks, man oh man.
Authentic Frontier Gibberish (gerry) Tue 19 Sep 06 14:51
Yes, I heard that program, too, and had the same reaction. I'd seen John Hagee before on TV, and he always struck me as almost a caracature, a walking, talking cliche of the typical Texas fire & brimstone preacher. If he didn't have influence over so many people, he would simply be amusing. But given the influence that he weilds, he is truly frightening.
Low and popular (rik) Tue 19 Sep 06 15:32
This is the guy who was selling tapes touting the evils of the Harry Potter series. HeÃe's lucky that the afterlife he sells is bullshit, because if it were real, he'd have a straight ticket to hell.
Steve Bjerklie (stevebj) Tue 19 Sep 06 16:10
While I was listening to the interview, it struck me that this guy, Hagee, isn't stupid. His followers aren't stupid either. It's a mistake to call up the tired old poor-dirt-farmer-in-overalls cliche' when describing the typical members of these mega-churches. I was reminded, though, of something far more sinister than any Bible-thumping rube caricature. The German people weren't stupid either. Yet a mass number of them came to believe things that were as absurd, manipulative and evil as what Hagee's selling, with horrific consequences.
Low and popular (rik) Tue 19 Sep 06 16:39
Oh, he's smart alright. And evil.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Fri 22 Sep 06 20:31
I heard Michelle on the local NPR station yesterday, KWMU in St.Louis. Nice to hear the voice to go along with the words here. Now waiting for my copy of the book.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Thu 5 Oct 06 11:09
fyi, for central texas residents, the Texas Freedom Network is bringing michelle goldbert to san antonio to speak. here is the info i have: Michelle Goldberg author of Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism San Antonio November 14 | 7:00 pm (free admission) SoL Center at University Presbyterian Church (300 Bushnell) Goldbergâs evening lecture will introduce you to the leaders behind the rise of Christian extremism in America, and give you a how-to guide for preserving religious and civil liberties against the religious right. Goldberg will be available after the presentation to sign copies of her book.
Members: Enter the conference to participate
Non-members: How to participate