Stop the hypocrisy: It is time for the emergence of religious political parties in the United States

WBy Douglas Voigt We want … to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.” Such is the rhetoric of Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson a mere 10 years ago. Now, given the repeated Christian explications by “born again” President George W. Bush, it appears his agenda has gained significant ground. Clearly, Christianity – among other religions – influenced and continues to influence the world view and decisions of our former and current leaders. But the notion that the Republican Party alone is a bastion for embattled Christian values, upon closer examination, reveals itself to be nothing more than a political facade. Consider, for instance, the persistent Catholic support for the Democratic Party. Also consider the significant faction of the Republican Party that doesn’t openly espouse Christian values and instead leans toward Libertarianism – which, at least philosophically, opposes any kind of religious influence in state policies.

As has long been known – especially here in Minnesota – the most appropriate method of addressing the convolutions and contradictions of the bipartisan system is the clarifying emergence of third parties. Well, I have a solution: the establishment of at least one religious political party in the United States. While I don’t support specific religious doctrines infiltrating the laws of this diverse country, I do support parties which truthfully represent what is supposed to be the central, all-encompassing world view of a large group of people. Thus, for the sake of a healthy democracy that isn’t mired in the obstructionist, sometimes intra-contradictory, two-party system, it is time for the emergence of religious parties in the United States.

In a somewhat acquiescent display, there exists a lingering tendency among the United States’ 45 million Catholic voters to support the Democrats – despite some clear contradictions with the Democrats’ liberal social ideology. According to extensive polling, the majority of Catholics voted for both Bill Clinton in 1996 and Al Gore in 2000. Why do Catholics vote Democratic anyway?

The only rational explanation for Democratic Catholics is the lack of Catholic values among the Republicans. For example, while Bush receives the blessing of the religious right and “comfort” from God when he sends soldiers to their deaths in Iraq, the current supranational Catholic representative of God on Earth – the Pope – denounced the war. Furthermore, in recent years, Catholics have increasingly subscribed to ecumenism among not only the Christian sects, but other major world religions – including Islam. Indeed, written in the historic Vatican document, “The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” drafted back in 1965, is the statement: “The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship GodÖ”

The aforementioned Pat Robertson, also leader of the 700 Club and the Christian Broadcasting Network, replies: “They (Muslims) worship an alien and hostile God. They’re trying to take over, destabilize and undermine our Western Christian way of life.” Billy Graham’s son, Franklin, states, Islam is a “very evil and wicked religion” – and he plans to blanket the long-closed Iraq with Evangelist missionaries carrying crosses in hand and enlightenment in intent. Jerry Vines, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention – the largest religious denomination in the United States – recently labeled the Islamic prophet Muhammad a “demon-possessed pedophile.”

While the above statements might appall some, they nonetheless are popular sentiments among many conservatives in the United States. Thus, all I ask is that they should be openly represented in our democracy, rather than relegated to the backroom lobby circles of the Republican Party – which includes some that are far from the pure and moral “pro-family Christians.” Namely, I speak of the Republicans that embrace Libertarian tendencies and shy away from openly declaring their religious views – if they have any at all. While the Libertarian Party itself is unable to dominate a single representational district, Libertarian adherents often resign themselves to advancing Republicans with similar agendas. However, the Libertarian ideology isn’t Christian. In fact, the philosophical underpinnings of the Libertarians are expressed by such individuals as drug legalization proponent Milton Friedman, fervent atheist Ayn Rand and even her extremist forefather, Friedrich Nietzche. Or consider Washington Post columnist George Will. He is commonly considered a conservative, yet he is an open admirer of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’ rise to prominence – a clear contradiction of “pro-family” values. Furthermore, several influential groups in the Washington beltway with Libertarian leanings, such as the Cato Institute, a pro-globalization, pro-privatization, pro-drug legalization, pro-choice and pro-sodomy group, strongly influence many conservative circles.

While the right – Libertarian conservatives and conservative Christians – might be joined together in an era of hypernationalism and budget deficits, it currently faces too much external scrutiny and internal diversity to appropriately maintain such a hypocritical alliance. It is time for an Evangelical, Baptist, Catholic or Protestant political party to emerge; democracy is in a sorry state indeed when fervent Christian missionaries align themselves with atheistic capitalists so tightly.

Or maybe conservative Christians in the Republican Party enjoy the political facade. Perhaps for the religious right, Republican credos of self-interest, personal responsibility and economic “freedom” help them ignore some of the more irritating aspects commanded of Christians by the Bible, such as helping the poor and paying the tithe. So, when current Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer states the common rightist theme that “social welfare was designed to be the role of the church, not the state,” she presents a prime example of the contradictory nature of the religious right. Unless we naively assume every American is a devout Christian willing to give enough to support welfare, if social welfare were to be relegated to the church, provision for the poor would suffer and the stratification of wealth would exponentially increase. But this, I suspect, is the intent of many Republicans. If not, I await the day when the religious folk have the courage to liberate themselves from the godless party machines that manipulate their world views. Otherwise, we might reach a point in the United States where unregulated capitalist spirit and Christian asceticism appear to be the same thing.

Douglas Voigt is a member of the Daily’s editorial board. He can be reached at [email protected]