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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cooking the Good Book

One of the perils of fundamentalism, in any scripturally-based religion, is the temptation to treat Sacred Text, because it's "all true," as a cook book for whatever secular causes you want to find in this or that verse, pulled out of context and blown way out of proportion.

Among Christian fundamentalists, this temptation is generally illustrated by the determination to treat the Bible as a treatise whose main message to today's world is to condemn feminism, abortion and homosexuality--even though none of these themes is anywhere even remotely close to central to the Bible's main preoccupations.

But it gets worse. As Stephanie Simon of the Los Angeles Times reports, fundie activists have gotten deeply involved in policymaking in Tom DeLay's Congress, targeting congressional staffer with efforts to plumb the Bible for conservative talking points. Indeed, they meet in the House Speaker's Dining Room:


Nearly every Monday for six months, as many as a dozen congressional aides — many of them aspiring politicians — have gathered over takeout dinners to mine the Bible for ancient wisdom on modern policy debates about tax rates, foreign aid, education, cloning and the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

Personally, as a Christian, I cannot imagine anyone really thinking there is definitive wisdom in the Bible about tax rates, cloning or CAFTA. The scriptural guidance offered on the more general subjects of foreign aid and education is not likely to comport with conservative ideology.

So the question remains, as always with fundamentalists: are you obeying the Bible, or are you cooking the Good Book to impute divine support for your secularist cultural and political prejudices?

A lurid example of how conservative Christians claiming to submit to Scripture have made Scripture submit to them is on display right now in Pat Robertson's fatwah calling for the murder of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

Jesus wept.
-- Posted at 11:06 PM | Link to this post | Email this post


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