June 16, 2005


Harper's magazine (which always delays making its articles available on-line) has just posted a must-read piece from its May issue by Chris_hedges Chris Hedges (left), the Pulitizer Prize-winning former war correspondent in hot spots from Kosovo to the Persian Gulf, who made Washington's denizens furious when, two years ago, he published his slim, stinging, unforgettable meditation on war and war reporting, "War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."

In Harper's, Chris delivers a vivid, personal account from the fox-holes of the culture wars, "Feeling the Hate with the National Religious Broadcasters." The NRB boasts1,600 Christian radio and television broadcasters, who claim to reach up to 141 million listeners and viewers, and Chris's sharp-eyed and sharp-eared immersion in their midst at the NRB's annual convention, held in the heart of California's Orange County, makes for frightening reading.

Bottomless hatred of same-sex love is one of the dominant themes Hedges found at this convention. NRB's new president, Frank Wright Nbrs_frank_wright (right)--who is also the moving spirit of an outfit called the Center for Christian Statesmanship, which has given its Distinguished Christian Statesman Award to Images_7 Tom DeLay (left) -- "promises the audience that as the new president of NRB he will fight to block the passage of hate-crime legislation, something many Christian broadcasters fear might be used to halt their attacks on gays and lesbians. 'For the first time in history, representatives and senators may pass hate-crime legislation,' he says, 'which is one step to oppose what you do as against the law.'"

In Chris's colorful report, you'll meet many of the best-known of these Christer broadcasters (most you'll never have heard of before, but they're oh-so-influential), but you'd be making a serious mistake if you dismissed these cartoon-like religious primitives and their hates as marginal or simply mad.  Their agenda targets you. As Chris sums it up:

"What the disparate sects of this movement, known as Dominionism, share is an obsession with political power. A decades-long refusal to engage in politics at all following the Scopes trial has been replaced by a call for Christian “dominion” over the nation and, eventually, over the earth itself. Dominionists preach that Jesus has called them toImages_6  build the kingdom of God in the here and now, whereas previously it was thought that we would have to wait for it. America becomes, in this militant biblicism, an agent of God, and all political and intellectual opponents of America’s Christian leaders are viewed, quite simply, as agents of Satan. Under Christian dominion, America will no longer be a sinful and fallen nation but one in which the Ten Commandments form the basis of our legal system, Creationism and 'Christian values' form the basis of our educational system, and the media and the government proclaim the Good News to one and all. Aside from its proselytizing mandate, the federal government will be reduced to the protection of property rights and “homeland” security. Some Dominionists (not all of whom accept the label, at least not publicly) would further require all citizens to pay 'tithes' to church organizations empowered by the government to run our social-welfare agencies, and a number of influential figures advocate the death penalty for a host of “moral crimes,” including apostasy, blasphemy, sodomy, and witchcraft. The only legitimate voices in this state will be Christian. All others will be silenced."

These broadcasters and their adoring audiences are the shock troops in the anti-gay boycotts I described in my L.A. Weekly article, "The New Blacklist: Corporate America Caves In to the Christers." At the end of his Harper's report, Chris Hedges writes that "a close friend and colleague of mine at the New York Times, died while I was out here from complications brought on by AIDS. I learned of his death on the first day of the convention, and even a few days of the Dominionists’ bigotry against homosexuals has been more than I could stomach." Learn what made Chris write that way. If you only have time to read one magazine article this week, you should make it this one -- and you can do so by clicking here

RELATED READING: A UNITED FRONT OF CHRISTERS IN '08   In today's USA Today, Susan Page reports that "Leaders of conservative Christian organizations plan to jointly interview Republican contenders for the 2008 presidential nomination, perhaps even endorsing one of them — steps that could expand their alreadyJames_downing_2  considerable political influence." Those who plan to participate include leading figures of the Christian right: James Dobson of Focus on the Family (right), Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Tony_perkins_frc Foundation, the Rev. Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, Gary Bauer of American Values, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (left), and other powerhouse figures of politicized Christianity.

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