The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal politicians “are spouting God-talk” in order to “confuse people of faith” and hide their “true agenda.” Invoking the Religious Right’s recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency – as well as the “Swift Boat” campaign of 2004 – the so-called “Values Voters for Truth” campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals – and, obviously, Democratic candidates – as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking a conspiracy to “deceive and split values voters.”
From a recent fundraising letter from FRC Action:
Our relentless effort to reveal the facts about the Left’s true agenda is already under way. It will not stop until the last vote of the 2008 election has been cast. The Values Voters for Truth campaign will partner with organizations in all 50 states—and at the national level. We will mobilize values voters, engage them in the war of ideas, and keep them informed and involved.
We will rally churches to the cause. And by God’s grace, we will neutralize our opponents’ deceptive tactics.
As an example of this supposed “fraud,” the letter cites a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke of his “belief in Christ” and also supports civil unions for gay couples. Similarly, the letter warns that a candidate noting a “biblical call to feed the hungry” also voted against an anti-abortion bill. A third candidate is denounced for the “hypocrisy” of wanting to let gay couples adopt children. According to FRC, these supposed contradictions indicate that Democrats discussing their faith and values is merely “lip service,” part of a “campaign of deception” that led directly to the Democrats winning control of Congress in the 2006 elections.
I was recently invited by neil to visit his blog, an example of which is this charming piece in which the Rev. Chuck Currie is made fun of and called a heretic. In the course of the piece, neil says something about the UCC not being in favor of "sound doctrine", a phrase that means absolutely nothing to me.
Both of these pieces, one on the political front, the other on the religious front, highlight why I much prefer a liberal, pluralist approach to my faith. Indeed, I honestly don't understand fundamentalism. Even though ER and others have tried to tell me it was their reality at one time, a reality from which they are trying to escape, it is just foreign to my own experience. Intellectually I understand such things as biblical inerrancy, the necessity of asserting certain truths as absolute, and the strict moral code that usually applies to others. As a matter of existential grasping, however, it is just beyond me. My experience of the faith has always been one of opening up to more experiences, more people, more ways of living life, more ways of helping others, more ways of judging oneself and withholding judgment from others.
The exclusivity of both the socio-political branch and theological branch of fundamentalism is also something that I can consider intellectually without understanding its appeal or its relevance. The idea that only certain groups have access to Christian truth, that there is only one way to live a Christian life, that non-Christian ways obviously are excluded from being correct - again, I just don't get it. Apparently billions of people around the world are not only damned, but not fully human because they do not participate in the truth of the Christian faith.
I understand the whole in-group/out-group thing; I understand the dimension of fear and the necessity for metaphysical grounding that so many people seem to think is necessary in life. I just don't think any or all these answers add up to the reasons for fundamentalism. There is a piece missing, and I need help understanding it. Reducing this movement to psychology and sociology just doesn't fill out what is going on here. I need help understanding how and why certain people can actually believe they have access to Truth that is denied to all others.