American Taliban

O.K., all right, let me say at the outset that this is going to be pure rant. The mobilized mingling of politics and religion, are you kidding me? What wonderful fodder. Freeing myself from the shackles of balance, I unleash my bias. Liberating!

Though I’ve been stewing over this for decades, the recent “to do” over the proposed burning of the Koran by a small group of zealots in Florida [Sep. 2013] finally managed to push my Launch Button. If the Florida Pastor’s intent was to “confront the terrorists,” then he should have suggested some Bibles and Torahs as well, since those scriptures have most certainly given birth to their fare share of monsters. While the Holy Books must always be considered as something more than merely “books,” they must always be considered something less than idols. They are nothing for which death, injustice or harm should come to anyone. And using any of them as a political ploy defies everything for which all our books stand.

Like many who are energized by an unbalanced understanding of righteousness, this well-intentioned yet dangerously misguided Pastor would symbolically sweep away opposition and the writings of infidels with fire. Emulating the methods of Saladin rather than those of their hero, Jesus, those of like passions are in danger of becoming that which they practice to hate. Whether preacher or politician, the American Taliban attempts to use and propagate personal convictions and/or religious bigotry on the back of political machinations.

Using sarcasm and innuendo to belittle others and divert attention from their own lack of substance, they see their cause as “bringing back the America we all know and love.” With all due respect, America must always be more than my vision, my preference. “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor or private interest of any one man, family or class of men.” [John Adams] If we fail to respond creatively to injustices that threaten others and not just our immediate selves, we fail to live out the principles of all our collective faiths. America is the Bible, it is the Koran, it is the Torah, it is the Kaballah, it is the truth of every good thing that exists beneath her banner. The “melting pot” of the world, there is a reason our motto is “From many, one.”

With a proven ability to draw crowds and stir the converted, far too many tend to see their political aspirations as a calling from Heaven all the while bringing out the worst in good people. Stirring long-frustrated passions and prejudices, they tend to castigate all “who are not like us” as enemies of God and the American way insisting the two are divinely synonymous. The political wheels go round and round while America remains unbettered and certainly no closer to God or conservative values.

Just to be clear, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and their mentor, Pat Robertson, do not speak for me. There, I’ve said it out in front of God and everybody. Neither does anyone named Clinton. Doing my best to avoid the thug-like arrogance of people prone to believing their own propaganda, I yet suggest that Talk Show Messiahs are becoming the false prophets of an Upside-down Age. Editing their own unpracticed and bastardized theologies to stroke and engage the bias of their listeners, they’ve become the fear-mongering mouthpieces of the American Taliban.

America is hungry for someone who believes in something but, in the absence of any true visionary voice to stir our nation forward, we’ve latched onto individuals whose agenda-driven opinions are treated as gospel. Preacher and politician are both to blame as each seeks to benefit from the other’s circle of influence. Instead of “speaking truth to power,” the leaders of the Christian Right fawn over their heroes while ignoring their dogma-laden diatribes that conflict with the very essence of everything Jesus. While “prostitution” might be too strong a term, opportunist does come close. The politicians are just whores. Hey, “if it quacks like a duck….”. We’ve come to thrive on our cultivated connections with important and influential people seeing those liaisons as a sign of “just how far God has brought us,” rather than a mingling of ideologies ultimately detrimental to anyone who values “liberty and justice for all.”

It’s our mind-set that troubles me. Those identified as conservative, right-wing Christians are in danger of sliding into the same error that drove the doctrines of Manifest Destiny in the early 1800’s. The heart of that perversion was that God had ordained for us [WASP’s] to bring all people under one roof. Encouraged by preacher and politician alike to embrace God’s call and destiny, we rode righteousness and thunder into the heart of North America, killing and plundering all who opposed us. “America is the best country anyone ever stole.”

Spiritualizing America as if it were Old Testament Israel, America’s Taliban, the lunatic fringe of patriotic faith, continue to view their Sacred Scriptures as a great white charger, “trampling out the vintage” to the Cause DuJour. “My kingdom is not of this world; if it were, my followers would fight.” I suggest that, if Westernized believers fail to separate their responsibilities as citizens of the Republic and agents of God’s Kingdom, then they will remain largely unprofitable in both. Loyalty to nation, patriotism, is something that lives in every healthy conscience regardless of political or religious affiliation. Insisting that Deity flies our flag is as presumptuous as it is arrogant. Such short-sighted positions exclude the possibility that there are any Constitution-minded, in-touch-with-God spirits on the other side of the aisle.

America’s hope will never flower in the antiquated thinking of a broken system; Republican/Democrat or Conservative/Liberal. Forget right-wing or left-wing, even a child knows it takes two wings to fly. If our politics do not serve to heal or unite then, I suggest, they are inconsistent with the ministry of the very Jesus America’s Taliban purports to represent, the “ministry of reconciliation.”

Taking liberties with Cassius, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our heroes, but in ourselves.” Blurring the line between two worlds, Right-wing [describing political alliance], Conservative [describing lifestyle issues], Christians [describing belief system] view patriotism as a significant element of righteousness, if not the whole shebang. The problem with our individual, patriotic sensibilities is that they are generally shared with about half the voting adults, as if the number of heads on any side of an issue has ever said anything about righteousness. Whose version of patriotism is more closely aligned with the mind of God? Why does it even matter? If the Bible is God’s revealed mind then it’s all just a crap-shoot anyhow.

“The powers that be are or-dained of God. Whosoever resists the power, resists the ordinance of God:” So, what if God “ordains” someone, now identified as a Republican, and the next election someone identified as a Democrat? What if I cast my almighty, blood-bought ballot for the wrong person? Am I resisting God? This much is clear to me, if “the powers that be” are ordained of God, then they will neither be advanced nor perplexed by something as transient as a voting booth. Citizenship, YES. Defying convention, YES. Patriotism, YES but we must always remember that, as citizens of the Republic, our opinon is but a tiny portion of the whole. When we get to heaven we’re all going to change our mind about a few things, our politics and world-view included.

From the Crusades of the Middle Ages to America’s Civil War, from people hanged for the color of their skin to teens beaten to death for their sexual orientation, from bombed abortion clinics and public buildings to murdered physicians, hundreds of thousands have been slaughtered by those who believed that Deity was anointing the tip of their spear. The American Taliban, the mingling of political power and religious mania, view their rights, opinions and convictions as Divinely bestowed and thus, exportable. God have mercy on the obstructionists.


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