The Common Good

Re: Gov. Shutdown; An Appeal To Paul Krugman And The NY Times: Stop Being Polite, It's Time To Expose Extremist Religion's Threat To Our Democracy

Date: October 7, 2013

For almost 9 years I've been warning Huffington Post readers of the danger religious right fundamentalist activism is to our country. With the advent of the shutdown I'm tempted to say "I told you so." The shutdown is the religious right's biggest "victory" and a loss for the rest of us that threatens everything we love. But it's not all "their" fault. Some of our best and brightest dropped the ball too. Our chattering classes have been too polite about religion, in fact mostly silent.

For instance, someone I admire very much -- Paul Krugman -- and the New York Times have unintentionally sinned against their readers. They are far too tolerant of the evil of religion-gone-bad. They are being overly polite about the horrible effect religion and evangelical fundamentalist religion in particular, has had on our American "shutdown" politics. They are analyzing the shutdown but offering no solutions because they duck the truth. Until Krugman and the Times editorial board and the rest of the media, attack the religious extremist root cause of the shutdown nothing can change.

Krugman's latest brilliant column in the Times illustrates my point handily. I'll reproduce some of it here and add what he was too polite to say. Maybe I'm more attuned to what Krugman won't say -- that right wing religion has become right wing politics -- because I was once an evangelical leader with a famous evangelical father (religious right founder Francis Schaeffer). I fled. But I remember.

One other thing, I know from experience: Not all evangelicals or Roman Catholics are of the right or part of the problem. For instance my friend and Huffington Post columnist Jim Wallis, or the people running the Wild Goose Festival with their in-gathering of progressive believers are on the side of sanity and compassion. But the good guys don't run the religion show in America.

What Krugman did not say is the heart of the story of why sane America can't come to grips with what has happened to us.

Krugman writes:

The main answer, which only the most pathologically "balanced" reporting can deny, is the radicalization of the Republican Party. As Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein put it last year in their book, "It's Even Worse Than It Looks," the G.O.P. has become "an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition."

True, but to help readers understand why this is so you'd need to tell the truth: Mann and Ornstein's description is a perfect description of the religious right evangelical and conservative Roman Catholic base that has worked for and voted in the Republican extremists. Let me rephrase. The evangelical Protestant movement ever since it became the anti-feminist, anti-science and anti-public education party has been an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.