Sunday, October 13, 2013

How Christian delusions are driving the GOP insane

Here's that article by Amanda Marcotte. The whole thing is great - if frightening - but here's an excerpt:
The press often talks about the Tea Party like they’re secularist movement that is interested mainly in promoting “fiscal conservatism”, a vague notion that never actually seems to make good on the promise to save taxpayer money. The reality is much different: The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is. ...

It’s no surprise, under the circumstances, that a movement controlled by fundamentalist Christians would be oblivious to the very real dangers that their actions present. Fundamentalist religion is extremely good at convincing its followers to be more afraid of imaginary threats than real ones, and to engage in downright magical thinking about the possibility that their own choices could work out very badly. When you believe that forcing the government into default in an attempt to derail Obamacare is the Lord’s work, it’s very difficult for you to see that it could have very real, negative effects. ...

In other words, the Christian right has worked itself into a frenzy of believing that if this health care law is implemented fully, then we are, in fact, facing down either the end of American Christianity itself or quite possibly the end times themselves. In comparison, it’s hard to be too scared by the worldwide financial collapse that they’re promising to unleash if the Democrats don’t just give up their power and let Republicans do what they want. Sure, crashing stock markets, soaring unemployment, and worldwide economic depression sounds bad, but for the Christian right, the alternative is fire and brimstone and God unleashing all sorts of hell on the world.

This is a problem that extends beyond just the immediate manufactured crisis. The Christian right has become the primary vehicle in American politics for minimizing the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary problems as distractions. Witness, for instance, the way that fundamentalist Christianity has been harnessed to promote the notion that climate change isn’t a real problem. Average global temperatures are creeping up, but the majority of Christian conservatives are too worried about the supposed existential threats of abortion and gay rights to care.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that it’s easy for Christian conservatives to worry more about imaginary threats from Obamacare than it is for them to worry about the very real threat to worldwide economic stability if they go along with their harebrained scheme of forcing the government into default. To make it worse, many have convinced themselves that it’s their opponents who are deluded. Take right wing Christian Senator Tom Coburn, who celebrated the possibility of default back in January by saying it would be a “wonderful experiment”. Being able to blow past all the advice of experts just to make stuff up you want to believe isn’t a quality that is unique to fundamentalists, but as these budget negotiations are making clear, they do have a uniquely strong ability to lie to themselves about what is and isn’t a real danger to themselves and to the world.

This line bears repeating: "The Christian right has become the primary vehicle in American politics for minimizing the problems of the real world while inventing imaginary problems as distractions."

This is why faith-based thinking is bad. This is why believing things that aren't true - or that you have no good reason to believe are true, at least - is bad. It's not a coincidence that our politics these days has become so wrapped up in religion, any more than it's a coincidence that terrorism is likewise so closely wrapped up with religion.


jeff725 said...

Things that make you go "hmmm..."

What do you think? I wouldn't put it past the Romans to pull a stunt like that. And it's still working to this day. Old tricks are the best tricks.

WCG said...

Frankly, Jeff, I think that's nuts. The Romans didn't need stuff like that. If they wanted to 'pacify' anyone, they just moved in the troops. And they had other techniques, too (like letting any ethnic group become "Roman"), which worked very well for a long, long time.

The thing is, anyone can claim anything. But there's no reason for most of us to pay any attention unless it becomes the historical consensus. (And in this case, I'm certainly not going to hold my breath!)

I'm disappointed that Richard Dawkins got involved in this, even in such a minor way, because it's not the kind of thing rational people should endorse. It doesn't help our side, not at all.

If this guy has evidence, let him convince historians first. Instead, he's written a sensational book, and he wants to sell as many copies as possible. That kind of thing is so common it's hardly even worth mentioning.