by Scoobie Davis
Is the Sectarian Right a Myth?
In the chapter of Slander titled, “Shadowboxing the Apocryphal ‘Religious Right,’”, Ann Coulter sounds postmodernistic (not to mention airheaded) when she attempts to explain away the existence of the religious right:
Like all propagandists, liberals create mythical enemies to justify their own viciousness and advance their agenda. There is no bogeyman that strikes greater terror in the left than the apocryphal “religious right.” The phrase is a meaningless concept, an inverted construct of the left’s own Marquis de Sade lifestyle. It functions as a talismanic utterance to rally the faithful against anyone who disagrees with the well-organized conspiratorial left.
A definition of the sectarian right is difficult. It is by no means a monolithic group. But neither are liberals and that doesn’t prevent Coulter from making outrageous generalizations about them (e.g., “[l]iberals hate America...” and “[l]iberals hate religion...”). Let’s look at some of the characteristics of the sectarian right (this list is by no means exhaustive):
1. It has the goal of a Christian nation in which there is no concept of church-state separation. Laws are to be based on Christian fundamentalist dogma. In an attempt to sugarcoat Pat Robertson’s reputation, Coulter comes up with this howler: “[Robertson] is, after all, a Yale Law School graduate. If Robertson was from Vermont and didn’t yap about God on TV, liberals would refer to him as a ‘moderate Republican.’” Perhaps at Yale Law School they were a bit vague when they taught Article VI of the Constitution because Robertson once said, “Individual Christians are the only ones really---and Jewish people, those who trust God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob--are the only ones that are qualified to have the reign, because hopefully, they will be governed by God and submit to Him."
2. The goal of complete church-state separation regarding outgroup religions. When members of the sectarian right calls for the Bible to be read in the public schools, they don’t want it to be accompanied by The Book of Mormon or Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures much less the Upanishads or the Book of Changes. Exception: some members of the sectarian right are willing to cozy up to what they consider apostate faiths if it leads to a big paycheck—such as Falwell’s embrace of Sun Myung Moon.
3. A conspiratorial worldview. Good examples of this are found in Pat Robertson’s The New World Order, Tim LaHaye’s Battle for the Mind and his Left Behind series, and Jerry Falwell’s support of the infamous Clinton Chronicles video (click here for information on Falwell and the Clinton Chronicles; don’t miss the part about the phony infomercial Falwell used to bilk his flock).
4. The goal to have a fundamentalist worldview taught in the education system—regardless of whether it clashes with science (e.g. the belief that the Earth is several thousand years old). Most recently, two Ohio Congressmen wanted science curriculum in Ohio to include creationist concepts.
5. Opposition to sexuality other than between a married man and woman. “God made Adam and Eve,” Jerry Falwell once said, “not Adam and Steve.” Many in the sectarian right believe that sex should be for procreative purposes (click here for a funny article by wingnut Randall Terry on birth control).
6. Opposition to reproductive rights.
7. Promotion of the traditional "family" (i.e. an instrumental husband and expressive wife). In the Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, under the heading of "Reclaiming Your Manhood," every man should "sit down with your wife and say something like this: 'Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role.' ... I'm not suggesting you ask for your role back, I'm urging you to take it back ... there can be no compromise here. If you're going to lead, you must lead ... Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead!"
Coulter then conflates those who oppose these goals of the sectarian rights with opposition to religion in general:
Liberal dogma instructs that public displays of religion are inimical to democracy, a threat to freedom as we know it. They believe religious people are self-evidently fanatical. Religious values are hateful, homophobic, sexist, racist, and the rest of the liberal catechism—unless they are kept in the closet . . . It is of course, preposterous to say religious people can’t let their religion inform their views on public policy. That is more hateful and intolerant than any views attributed to the apocryphal “religious right.”
There are problems with this assessment. As I mentioned, Coulter equates opposition to the sectarian right with the opposition to religion in general. Sectarian rightists like Falwell and Robertson are self-evidently fanatical, not religious people per se. Here are just a few quotes by Pat Robertson. Are these the words of a “moderate Republican”?