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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Falwell Helped Us Liberals

We liberals should be grateful to the late Jerry Falwell and the right wing, conservative, fundamentalist Christians for a number of important issues he raised.

Falwell and Christian conservatives want the Bible back in our schools. It certainly is absurd that the reticence of the liberal Christians has allowed anti-religious secularists, as characterized by the ACLU (of which I am a devout member), to stop teaching the Scripture in many public schools, colleges and universities throughout the United States. On the pretext that Bible instruction melds the separation of church and state, the Bible is banned by law or regulation. Of course, the very banning of the Bible is a violation of that separation for the government is interfering with the practice of religion. Unquestionably, it is secular-sponsored anti-intellectualism as well.

How can students understand Western culture up to this very day if they
don’t know something about the Bible? European and American histories are dominated by religious ideas drawn from the Bible’s Ten Commandments and the prophet’s appeal for justice in the courts and compassion for the poor and the widows. The Medieval and Renaissance periods, Dante, Shakespeare, Milton, the founding fathers of this nation, and the words of Abraham Lincoln, just to name a few, draw deeply from Biblical literature.

Falwell and his fundamentalist brothers and sisters have made the Bible an object of worship. They pick and choose passages to prove their political and sexual agendas. They want these promulgated in our schools. Even though I disagree with their idolatry of the Bible, any thoughtful, intellectual and liberal Christian would want the Bible available for study in the schools.

Falwell and the fundamentalists are married to the Republican Party. The right wing’s attitudes on abortion, immigration, homosexuals, welfare, racism and idolatry of Capitalism are consistent with the views of many in the GOP. We liberals should, at all costs, urge them to back the Republicans so that the sane center in the United States can see the Republican conservatives continue their inhuman, illiterate and hate-filled propaganda. It will wreck the party in both the short and long term. We can thank conservative Christians for damaging the Republican Party.

Another way so-called religious conservatives have helped the liberals is
in their opposition to taxing clergy housing allowances. In 1997
Congressional experts made another attempt to tax the exempt housing
allowances of clergy. The Church Pension Fund of the Episcopal Church urged clergy to write their representatives and preserve that tax benefit. The conservative churches, using their political muscle, helped enormously in preserving that clerical perk that we liberals enjoy.

Soon we will see secularists go after the tax exemption to churches and
religious organizations. Cities will try to tax presently exempt real
estate on which churches sit. Congress and the California Assembly pay
chaplains to open their deliberations. Preachers may even be stopped from praying at the presidential inaugural. They will force the president not to take the oath of office on the Bible.

The military academies now have compulsory chapel attendance which may be prohibited. They employ clergy to run those services. The military of the United States pay chaplains to minister to soldiers, sailors and air force personnel. The newly secularist interpretation of the separation of church and state calls into question government funding of those religious activities. Religionists of all sides need to see that secularists, in their attempts to exclude religion from the society, are interfering with the practice of religion.

The secularists screamed when Hilary Rodham Clinton was seen wearing a simple cross around her neck at a public occasion. This was called an invasion of the principle of separation of church and state. That criticism was a call to interfere with the practice of the first-lady's religion. She is a member of the Methodist Church.

In March of 1998 a member of the California State Assemble e-mailed his
colleagues inviting them to a Bible study group. The secularists created a
furor saying that using the government’s e-mail network violated separation of church and state.

I wrote the following letter which was published in the San Francisco
Chronicle on March 10, 1998.

To the Editor of the San Francisco Chronicle:

What a riot. Some folks in the California Assembly object to invitations to Bible Study. (SF Chronicle, Wednesday, March 4, 1998)
Carole Migden et al suggest separation of church and state should prevent Assembly members from sending religious invitations through the e-mail. One might suggest that preventing those invitations is the state interfering with religion.

On the whole Christian fundamentalists are abhorrent to me. But I’ll bet there would be little such objection if our brothers and sisters who are Muslims, Jews and Roman Catholics invited Assembly members to study the Koran, Old Testament or New Testament.

Besides, a dose of Bible study might teach our legislators something about love, justice, caring for the poor and homeless.

Here is an example of lawmakers using the idea of separation of church and state to halt an invitation to Bible study, a legitimate religious activity. Fortunately for us liberals, the right-wing Christian fundamentalists will fight to preserve the preservation of religion in the culture. The great liberal Bishop James A. Pike, himself a lawyer, used to say, "the separation of church and state does not mean the separation of church and society." Americans, for the most part, are a religious people. We don’t want special privileges but we do want the state to desist in undermining our religious heritage.

We liberals can thank Falwell for stepping in and calling attention to the secularist encroachment on the religious values honored from the days of the founding fathers – freedom of religious practice, knowledge of the Bible and respect for the religious nature of a large number of Americans.

So let’s thank Falwell and Christian Conservatives for helping to advance the political rights of liberal Christianity and religion in general. While it is hard for me to have Falwell rest in piece, may he rest.


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