Walt Amses: Welcome to Christian America and the Great Gospel Lie
This commentary is from Walt Amses, a writer who lives in the north of Calais.
The first full weekend of summer the temperatures are a little too hot and the water a little too cold, but I consider this a dead end, like tossing a coin that lands on the edge and going for it anyway.
Although my entry without hesitation is impressive to the couple of people on the ground, they have no idea that I have stumbled on an invisible rock and my first blows aim to keep it that way. As the sweat from a previous walk dissolves and gardening grit succumbs to the crystal clear water of the secluded pond, I’m in a familiar zone, one that for decades has allowed me to transcend almost everything. that the world has to offer.
Not this day.
Like almost everyone in the country, I ruminate on a series of little “what ifs” that culminated in last week’s love at first sight, rolling back a century of American intellectual and scientific progress, bolstering a Christian theocracy wedded to its superstitions dictating the rule of law.
What if Merrick Garland? … What if Hillary? …what if RBG? … What if Bernie Bros? The chilling message of this ruling is that what voters want quickly becomes irrelevant to the court, and why not? Five of the majority justices were appointed by presidents who entered the White House after losing the popular vote.
Patiently waiting three decades for his day to come, Clarence Thomas immediately made it clear that he was not yet satisfied. He wanted more. In a concurring opinion, astonishing in its implications, Thomas aimed at the heart of a nation already torn apart by the court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, hinting that the rights to equal marriage, LGBTQIA+ intimate relationships, and even contraception could eventually head to the SCOTUS chopping block.
Joined by a credible accused of sexual misconduct (like Thomas) and three who perjured themselves in court, the judges capped an extraordinary week of far-right fever dreams, elevating fetuses above women, concealing guns above public safety, rogue cops above Miranda Rights and religious schooling at state expense on separation of church and state.
As all of this was forced on an audience that didn’t want to be part of it, Thomas rubbed salt in the wound, almost inviting challenges to a wide range of gay rights, birth control and the right to privacy itself. .
Turning back after a few hundred yards, I begin to forget how cold the water is, but I can’t tear myself away from the self-mythification of the Christian right and its moralizing reminder of how Roe galvanized the movement in 1973, launching a half-century of activism leading to the big SCOTUS victory last week.
Unfortunately, as William Barr might say, their recollection is complete bullshit. Randall Balmer, the Mandel family arts and sciences teacher at Dartmouth, eviscerated what he called an “enduring myth” several years ago in Politico magazine. “It wasn’t until six years after Roe that evangelical leaders seized on abortion not on moral grounds but as a rallying cry to deny Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the real motive of the religious right: to protect segregated schools.
Conceived in large part by the late Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the Heritage Foundation, the new coalition had the long-term goal of political power which, Weyrich said, once achieved, “would give the moral majority the opportunity to recreate this great nation. .”
But Balmer reports a catalyst around which to rally was elusive: “Weyrich, on his own, had tried different issues to pique the interest of evangelicals, including pornography, school prayer, the proposed amendment on equal rights and even abortion”, but could not get “these people” interested, admitting at a conference in 1990 that he had “completely failed”.
Contradicting the carefully crafted mythology, we find the Christian response to Roe v. Wade was hardly an answer, certainly not anger. It was mostly silence or even outright approval. Baptists believed the ruling was “an appropriate articulation of the division between church and state, between personal morality and state regulation of individual behavior.” W. Barry Garrett, writing in the Baptist Press at the time, suggested that “religious liberty, human equality, and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court’s abortion decision.”
But the issues of money, power and racism proved too hard to ignore and losing the federal tax exemption from their racially discriminatory private schools was a bridge too far and the religious right was born with no connection to abortion.
Another concern for evangelicals was if their “segregation academies” lost status; donations and donations to these institutions would no longer qualify for charitable donation tax deductions. Although abortion, Balmer writes, “emerged as a rallying cry in 1980, the true roots of the religious right lie not in the defense of a fetus but in the defense of racial segregation.”
The next afternoon, after a longer swim on a larger, even colder lake, I lay on a dock in bright, warm sunshine, staring at a chain of cumulus clouds vaguely reminiscent of Hubble telescope photographs: towering columns of dust and gas believed to show the birth of stars from interstellar gas, dubbed “the Pillars of Creation”.
As the magnificence of these astonishing images – 6,500 light years from earth and 7,000 years in the past – come back to me, I find it inconceivable that the nation capable of such wonder involves threats to women’s access to contraception, subsequently forcing them to give birth against their will.
Extremely misogynistic; Draconian beyond measure; and so the primitive Samuel Alito justifies the decision by quoting (multiple times) Sir Matthew Hale, a 17th century English judicial authority who thought there was no marital rape, finding that “I do” was retroactive consent , and presided over the witch trials .
The very idea that this character would convey even an ounce of credibility in the victimization of women is simply repugnant.
Welcome to Christian America.