by Edwin Kagin
Bringing America’s Own Religious Extremism to the Forefront
February 20, 2003
Volume 1, Number 1
of the activities of the
says JOHN SHELBY SPONG best-selling author of Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism
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your autographed copy today!
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Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
From the publisher
Welcome to the first issue of Fundamentally Aware, a complimentary newsletter in my ongoing effort to create greater awareness of the dangers of America’s own religious extremism. If you’re not yet a subscriber, be sure to sign up. You’ll find details in the lower left column.
Whether you’re a subscriber or not, please feel free to forward my newsletter along to others.
Because this is Black History Month, it seems appropriate to review the relationship between racism and Christian fundamentalism.
You also won’t want to
miss the latest twist on an old fable, The Boy Who Cried Orange Alert!
It’s my goal to continually improve this newsletter and to keep you informed. Feel free to share your comments on the format, content, length, or today's issues. Also, I’d be interested to know of any studies you come across pertaining to Christian fundamentalism.
1. The Cultivation of Prejudice
2. Politically Incorrect
3. The Boy Who Cried Orange Alert
4. Lott Writes Columns for White Supremacists
The following is
excerpted from Chapter 5: The Social Implications of Armageddon by
Kimberly Blaker in The Fundamentals of Extremism.
Today the Biblical basis for holding racist views has become less acceptable and therefore, less visible. But there is, undoubtedly, a relationship between modern-day racism and fundamentalism. Perhaps the best evidence comes from the continuation of the Ku Klux Klan as well as other extreme Christian based sects such as the Aryan Nation, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, and the Christian Identity movement. . . .
Although in most instances racism is not openly a part of the fundamentalist repertoire, there is a definite correlation even among other fundamentalist groups. Such prejudices are evident as was witnessed in the 1970s. Approximately one hundred religious schools lost their tax-exempt status when they avoided integration.[i]
While most of this has changed, even by 1988, most Christian schools had disproportionately white populations.[ii] . . .
June 2002, the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University released data
confirming the continuation of this trend. It found that today, private
religious schools have the highest levels of segregation over both private
secular schools and public schools, with Catholic the most segregated of
Best known for its separatist racist policies is the conservative Bob Jones University (BJU), which lost its tax-exempt status in 1982 for its policy of banning interracial dating and marriage. . . . The ban on interracial dating finally was lifted in 2000 following a wave of media attention to BJU’s practice.[iv] While today, many BJU faculty and students deny the policy was racist, the meaning behind the policy is undeniable when looking at its founder. . . .
More recently, Bob Jones III rationalized in reference to the Curse of Ham:
(A) Negro is best when he serves at the table. When he does that, he's doing what he knows how to do best. And the Negroes who have ascended to positions in government, in education, this sort of thing, I think you'll find, by and large, have a strong strain of white blood in them. Now, I'm not a racist and this school is not a racist institution. I can't stress that enough. But what I say is purely what I have been taught, and what I have been able to study is the teaching of the Scripture.[v]
Interestingly, BJU, from which Attorney General John Ashcroft received an honorary doctorate and delivered his acceptance speech in May 1999, is a favorite among Christian conservatives. Moreover, many conservative politicians have campaigned at BJU. This includes Republican Senator Strom Thurmond and former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, who appeared with President George W. Bush. Many politicians have also graduated from or hold honorary degrees from the university.[vi]
The issue of racial
discrimination by fundamentalists is far from limited to academic
institutions. According to a year-2000 survey, those who take the Bible
literally and view it as the actual word of God, are three times as likely
to favor laws against interracial marriage as those who do not take the
Bible literally. They are twice as likely to not vote for a black
candidate for president, even if their own political party nominated the
more on this, including the findings of vast studies on the relationship
between Christian fundamentalism and racism as well as other forms of
bigotry in The
Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America.
and gentlemen, Christianity offers the only viable, reasonable, definitive
answer to the questions of ‘Where did I come from?’ ‘Why am I
here?’ ‘Where am I going?’ ‘Does life have any meaningful
Christianity offers a way to understand that physical and moral border.
Only Christianity offers a comprehensive worldview that covers all areas
of life and thought, every aspect of creation. Only Christianity offers a
way to live in response to the realities that we find in this world --
The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right
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In the last week an avalanche of proposals and guidelines have poured from the Bush Administration. Conveniently, it has all come to pass in the same week the Administration raised the threat level of terroris m to an orange alert.
Is this coincidence? I find it doubtful.
By bringing out such highly controversial legislation when the media is already saturated by far more pressing matters and while the public is consumed with concern, it’s less likely that many Americans will take notice of these far reaching proposals. Even those who do are too busy taking action on more urgent issues—like keeping America out of war.
The anti-war protests may be exactly what the Administration is hoping to achieve. The larger segment of protestors is liberal and mainstream. Therefore, those who would oppose the myriad of actions are too busy on other fronts.
I’m not suggesting that Bush doesn’t really want to go to war. It’s clear that is his goal. But he’s found a strategic way to make even the anti-war protests work to his advantage.
This is typical of far right stealth tactics and is becoming evident that it’s just one more underlying motive for the Administration to continue its warmongering. By doing so, many extreme pieces of legislation will slip through with little challenge, as the media and society focus elsewhere.
So what has the Bush administration attempted or succeeded in during the last week?
Once again, House Republicans have taken up a bill to ban late-term abortion, allowing no exceptions for the life and health of women. It is backed by Bush’s long-time pledge to sign it. This is despite a Supreme Court ruling that without an exception to save a woman’s life it is unconstitutional.
Also approved by the House is a renewal of the 1996 welfare-downsizing measure that leaves women and innocent children in the streets once they’ve used up the maximum allotted time on welfare.
What’s new this time, however, is that vocational education, a necessity for many on welfare to attain a decent paying job and overcome financial hardship, has been eliminated. Furthermore, despite current economic conditions and economic decline that will result if Bush has his way with war, states will be required to have 70 percent of their welfare recipients working 40 hours per week by 2007.
But not to be outdone, new federal guidelines have been issued allowing students free rein to lead vocal prayers at school-sponsored events. If students are prevented from doing so, the schools—already on a tight budget—that have placed the limitations can lose federal funds.
Besides serious concerns with these latest actions, what I find truly bothersome is that public trust in our current president has been so eroded by the Administration’s shenanigans. Its ongoing deceit and its disrespect for our Constitution and democracy have damaged the Administration’s integrity.
Like the boy who cried wolf, should a real state of emergency arise, a large segment of society, including myself, will unlikely have faith in the Administration’s claims, regardless how truthful they may be. This could place all of us at risk, including Bush’s flock. The modern day version of Aesop’s fable might become The Boy Who Cried Orange Alert.
Kimberly Blaker is editor and coauthor of The Fundamentals of Extremism: the Christian Right in America. Visit http://www.NewBostonBooks.com for details. Read previously published columns of The Wall™ at http://www.thewall-onchurchandstate/com © 2003, Kimberly Blaker
Lott Writes Columns for
is probably surprised that only now some are criticizing him for his white supremacist
research (see links below) on the Religious Right exposed the fact
he has been writing columns for the Council of Conservative
Citizens’ (formerly the White Citizens Council) “Citizen Informer”
American people who elected him to
one of the most powerful positions on the planet
apparently were not concerned or did not know about his
racist views. Following are some URLs showing Lott’s
involvement in the white supremacist movement. Those
of you who are talented in writing letters to the
editor may want to consider publicizing this
information. It's about time this very powerful man’s
dangerous views were challenged.
Written by an anonymous insider dedicated to exposing
the radical religious right agenda.
Patricia Lines, “Private Education Alternatives and State Regulation,” Journal
of Law and Education 12, no.2 Spring 1983, 191, found in Susan Rose,
“Christian Fundamentalism and Education in the United States,” Fundamentalisms
and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 462.
“Characteristics of Private Schools:1987-1988,” p. 2, found in Susan
Rose, “Christian Fundamentalism and Education in the United States,” Fundamentalisms
and Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 462.
“Religious Private Schools Most Segregated in U.S.,” 25 June 2002,
Research Matters at Harvard University website [online] [cited 20 October
2002]; available at http://www.law.harvard.edu/groups/civilrights/press_releases/private_schools.html.
Kimberly Hohman, “Bob Jones Bends,” About.com [online] [cited 30 June
2002]; available at http://racerelations.about.com/library/weekly/aa030600a.htm.
“A look inside.”
“BoJo and Politics,” [online] [cited 14 June 2002]; available at http://www.nobojo.com/politics.html.
General Social Survey, 2000.
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