Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Tracking the Radical Religious Right

The Carpetbagger Report links to two important pieces on the Christian Right: The most recent is a commentary on the "War on Christians" conference sponsored by Rick Scarborough of Vision America, recently held in Washington, D.C. and a link to the People For the American Way's coverage of the "event". The PFAW link is a very good read. The War on Christians meme has been flogged by the right wing media establishment over the last couple of years and many of the actors active in it are probably familiar to you.

But an earlier posting deserves even more attention. It concerns a leading demogogue on the Christian right who has largely flown under the radar, but who I suspect may prove to be an influential figure in the days and months to come. For reasons that I think will be apparent in the Carpetbagger's link to the New Republic article, conservative Roman Catholic "Father" Richard John Neuhaus may be, if possible, the scariest of the theocons. The New Republic article is long, and you will have to register for it on the magazine's website (the registration is free), but it is well worth a thoughtful read.

In addition to his work at the conservative journal First Things, Neuhaus also appears on the conservative Roman Catholic cable television station EWTN. Neuhaus, along with another RC theocon, George Weigel, is a regular on EWTN's The World Over, a "700 Club"-like survey of "world news" shown every Friday night. So Neuhaus's influence extends beyond the fishbowl of conservative think tanks and into the world of something approaching regular media. On a side note, First Things was the host of a 2002 gathering on Christianity and the public square that included none other than Justice Scalia, who basically argued that applying the death penalty is a society's right and obligation BECAUSE all governments derive their sovereignty from God and serve as the Arm of the Lord on earth. Americans who think that the U.S. Constitution reflects popular sovereignty might be curious and alarmed about this reasoning.

Neuhaus, a former Lutheran, has also reached across the denominational divide to partner with former Watergate felon, Charles Colson, in bringing likeminded Roman Catholics and evangelical Christians together for the cause of purging the country of "secularism". They formed an association and put out a book entitled Evanglicals and Catholics Together: Toward a Common Mission, a document which is pretty much the "other" bible among cultural warriors.

Ultimately, Neuhaus is important because as the New Republic article author points out, he is apparently a believer in, and has attempted to fuse together, a theory of religious-political domination, based not on the relatively narrower realms of conservative evangelicalism, but rather on 13th century Natural Law constructs. For Neuhaus, his society's patron saint isn't Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton or Andrew Jackson. It is rather, the 13th century saint-philosopher, Thomas Acquinas. In the words of Ving Rhames' character in Pulp Fiction, Neuhaus wants to get Medieval on us. As The Rogue Progressive might say, Neuhaus is a leading Feudalist-regressive among us.

Anyway, Senator Bulworth says read both pieces by the PFAW and the New Republic. And thanks to the Carpetbagger Report for the links.

1 comment:

The Absurdist said...

Thanks for pointing out the link to the New Republic article. Richard Neuhaus is also on the board of directors of the Institute for Religion and Democracy which is waging a campaign to silence the progressive advocacy of the mainline protestant churches. I wrote about this recently on my blog.