Saturday, March 12, 2005

GOP theology: a return to basics | The gospel of the rich and powerful

Joe Conason complains about the Bush agenda. I do too, but there's not much new to say. We fought hard because we knew the stakes. We lost.

His summary of GOP theology, however, is interesting. I've been saying the same thing for a while, but Conason is a writer and I'm a hack (emphases mine):
... Appalling as these policies may be, however, they are in no sense inconsistent with the cosmology of the religious right, which melds laissez-faire economics with fundamentalist orthodoxy. Underlying these conservative attacks on the poor by professing Christians is a worldview that dates back to earlier centuries, when the church defended privilege and declared that the wealthy and powerful were God's elect. From that perspective, minimum wages, subsidized health care, and other such laws and regulations only corrupt the poor, who must earn charity by their temporal and spiritual submission.

If these ideas sound a bit old-fashioned -- or even primitive -- be assured that they represent the latest thinking on the evangelical far right, which is where "compassionate conservatism" originated. Guided by the most literal interpretation of Old Testament law, the preachers who have influenced the President are determined to undermine every modern protection enjoyed by poor and working-class Americans. Let's hope they draw the line at bringing back public whippings and debt slavery.
Conason expresses these core ideas far more succinctly that I have. The premise that wealth and power is a sign of God's blessing predates medeival christianity, it predates monontheism, heck, it probably predates language. It is the oldest and the most powerful theology. It is resurgent in America and it is the theology of George Bush.

Given human nature, it's not surprising that the old ways are back. What's odd is that there ever were a few powerful people who actually tried to follow the inhuman, illogical and unattainable teachings of Christ. What's peculiar is that the Book of Job hasn't been deleted from the Old Testament.

By comparision the theology that wealth is virtue, and that poverty and disease are a sign of God's virtue, makes perfect sense. It's good to return to a sane world where the powerful behave as they ought to.

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