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Religious Right Mystified By Obama

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

It should be obvious to almost anyone following the 2008 Presidential election that one Barack Obama is driving the right crazy. Especially the religious right. I love the fact that they are stumbling over themselves not to resort to their usual dogwhistle rhetoric less they be exposed as latent racist.

Now they find themselves thrashing about looking for a way to define him without defining him through the language the GOP has come to rely on for the past forty years. Their message has always relied on speech that was dogwhistle code to reassure their base they will be protected from the likes of "they" and "them" as a way to refer to people of color, different ethnic backgrounds, and homosexuals. When Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 Presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi with a hat tip to Richard Nixon's 'southern strategy' and declaring themselves as the defenders of their heritage in the so called "culture war" every single person that made up that base knew exactly what they meant. Now that dogwhistle code is falling on a changing demographics' ears and the rhetoric doesn't hold the same meaning. Instead of tones of appeal its a shout of "racist."

That brings us to James Dobson and the Christianist movement. What has Mr. Dobson upset is this appearance by Obama discussing Christianity in context with the real world and whose interpretation is debateable even among Christians:

Then there is the Christian conservative principles about homosexualty as interpreted by the religious right regarding gay marriage:

To Dobson, gay marriage is a looming catastrophe of epic proportions. He has compared the recent steps toward gay marriage to Pearl Harbor and likens the battle against it to D-Day. While Dobson maintains that he'd prefer to stay out of politics, he has said that "the attack and assault on marriage is so distressing that I ust feel like I can't remain silent."

Pontificating about the sins of same sex marriage and homosexuality in general seems to be an obsession with Mr. Dobson. In regards to the views of Sen. Obama as expressed in his 2006 appearance at the Call To Renewal Conference in Washington D.C. from the video above Mr. Dobson runs into trouble when he went after the Senator for "distorting" the bible:
"Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.

"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
So, Mr. Dobson is dismissing the Old Testament as not applicable in light of the teachings of Christ in the New Testament. That poses a major problem for the inestimableMr. Dobson and his militant religious views on homosexuality. The Old testabment with its "text and dietary codes that no longer apply" is exactly where the religious right community derive their views on homosexuality: Leviticus 18:22.

As Romano Penna, Professor of New Testament studies at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome explains:
"Jesus never speaks of homosexuality. A bare mention can perhaps be seen when, in referring to John the Baptist, he says to the crowd: "What did you go out into the wilderness to behold? ... a man clothed in soft raiment? ... those who wear soft raiment are in kings' houses" (Mt 11:7, 8; Lk 7:25). The Greek word malakos, translated as "soft, tender", could also mean "effeminate". But in this case the allusion could only be very indirect, since the word is used about clothing and not people."
So if Christ never bothers to bring it up and Mr. Dobson's hand wringing over Sen. Obama using Old Testament teachings that are out of line with New Testament theology then his arguement with the Sen. and his distortion of the bible is mute even before it begins.

In the video above the Senator asks us "...if we exclude all the other religions in America save the Christian one, whose view of Christianity do we teach?" The problem with Mr. Dobson's attacks is they prove the Senators point no matter what comes out of his mouth. The attack itself is a perfect illustration of the Senator's point about contrarian views within the Christian community. Senator Obama has effectively countered the the religious right's attacks with his position and gives him an opening to the evangelical community and erode some of Mr. Dobson's support in the heart of his base.

Without a theological arguement all Mr. Dobson is left with is the old "culture war" rhetoric of Nixon/Reagan political speak of "they" and "them" and the racist underlinings they represent. From here until election day it is going to be very amusing as we watch the Republicans tread in waters they are not accustomed to. With Hillary all they had to do was reach back to the same old attacks and dogwhistle rhetoric. They weren't expecting this. Moving out of that old Republican speak will make them look like fish out of water. Yes, they'll still have a formidable attack machine, but the field of play is much more even now which will make for more mistakes and stumbles on their part.

For the GOP this new world doesn't look so good. With J.C. Watts now retired the Republican National Convention is going to look awfully white in the realities of a rainbow colored world. Oh, what fun.


Vox Populi said...

It really IS fun to watch them. They have gotten away with so much and still are.

And smiling and laughing as they kick others around and take everything for themselves. We must NEVER let them be in charge again. It's scary how many young people are still enraptured by mccain. I was stunned.
That rhetoric does set in. Gotta talk it out fast.
Oh, sunny needs you over to her blog on her grand inquest post.

I came to link you up but got caught up in reading you .... I save your page to read at home but haven't even had time for that lately. Once I start I can't stop. LOL.

Couple more weeks, I'll be back on track.

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