22 October 2006

Patrick Henry College

Occasionally I've been questioned as to why I'm concerned about the emergence of Christian Nationalism in the United States. The most idiotic remark, in this vein, was the observation that fundamentalism is only growing in the United States and the Middle East, while religious belief everywhere else has been on decline, so I really shouldn't worry about these things (this came from one of my European friends here on Larval Subjects). Well gee, thanks, this does me a lot of good if I live everywhere else, but I don't see how it does me much good living here. Perhaps the person who made this comment would like to find me a nice teaching position in Europe so I wouldn't have to worry about these things. Padraig from the brilliant subject-barred ($), who hails from Ireland I might add (apparently word of this small college has travelled far and wide), has been kind enough to track down a number of links on Patrick Henry College that are cause for concern.
No, what makes Patrick Henry unique is the increasingly close - critics say alarmingly close - links this recently established, right-wing Christian college has with the Bush administration and the Republican establishment as a whole. This spring, of the almost 100 interns working in the White House, seven are from Patrick Henry. Another intern works for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign, while another works for President George Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove. Yet another works for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. Over the past four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns. Janet Ashcroft, the wife of Bush's Bible-thumping Attorney General, is one of the college's trustees.
These are astonishing, eye-popping numbers. Now I have no axe to grind with Christians. I earned my doctorate from a Jesuit institution. I would argue late into the evening with evangelical and Catholic friends about the finer points of scripture and the teachings of Jesus. My mother is a devout Catholic and my father a Southern Baptist. They decided to split the difference and raised me Episcopal. I even enjoy a good high Catholic service. I've always thought atheism consisted in the freedom to be done with religion, to no longer even talk about religion, not in the activity of sitting around trying to persuade others of the folly of their religious views. Yet when I do find myself talking about religion it's usually defending religion, much to my dismay and confusion, not attacking it. My friend Jeff, in graduate school, who was home schooled and Baptist, would sometime tell me that I should be a minister due to how I talked about scripture. I suspect he did this to irritate me, but such is the nature of transference with regard to those whom we love. We become what we think they want us to be. Jeff also became a bit of an atheist.

But these groups are a different breed altogether, and it's worthwhile to know what it is that they believe as they are currently being groomed for extremely powerful positions that will not only have a tremendous impact on domestic policy in the United States, but on U.S. foreign policy is well. Do we really want people leading the United States who believe the apocalypse is immanent (thereby undermining any need to change environmental policies that effect the rest of the world) and who believe these events will unfold in a conflict between the Middle East and the United States (thereby encouraging "statesmen" to promote conflict with foreign countries rather than avoiding it)? The articles can be found here and here and here and here and here. Thanks for the hard work Padraig!

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"...apocalypse is immanent". A good one!

October 22, 2006 10:19 PM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

I'm not sure I get the joke, but I'm sure it's very funny. :)

October 22, 2006 10:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Levi,

Let it be known that I was the author of The most idiotic remark, in this vein,observing that fundamentalism is only growing in the United States and the Middle East, while religious belief everywhere else has been on decline, so I really shouldn't worry about these things.

I find Christian Nationalism (where ever it rears its ugly head) as abhorrent as you and many others, but I guess I was trying to put it into a global perspective and thus not totally bury any hope of continuous Enlightenments.

That, of course, is small comfort in Texas (right?) where you live and teach. But how do fundies and their bile impact you in your daily practise and job environment? I'm curious. Are you being censored (subtly or not) in your teaching?

I'm also trying to problematize whether "the obsessional machine of the academy" (your term - although in a different take) is in the process of obsessing about a really scary Other in the form of Christian Nationalism, thus creating a victimization strategy for itself.

I'm not trying to be snide here, Levi, but would value your thoughts on this (I think) interesting subject.

All the best,

Orla Schantz

October 23, 2006 7:35 AM  
Blogger Sinthome said...

Orla,

With regard to my teaching, the biggest impact so far has been drives to standardize standards of teaching. This, of course, sounds very nice and obvious, but has been largely driven by a right that wants to curtail critical thinking by controlling curriculum (these teaching models focus on multiple choice testing or quantifiable forms of evaluating students). So far this has mostly effected secondary education, but pressure is being brought to bear on the public universities now as well.

Outside of my teaching, the Bush administration has slashed public programs left and right, and replaced them with "Faith Based" charity programs, that allow religious organizations to preside over services that once belonged to the government. This has allowed these organizations to both minister to those they are "helping" according to their religious views, and exclude those who don't share their religious views. This has cost millions of tax payer dollars.

In addition, there have been the constant battles across the country to teach creationism in the public schools, there's been the war waged on science that has effected U.S. environmental policies (the administration believes that climate science is bunk), and there has been a concerted attempt to roll back women's rights pertaining to their bodies, as well as gay rights.

That's good for starters.

October 23, 2006 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Sinthome said...

Orla,

The reason I object to this sort of argument is that it's a bit like reassuring someone who lives in Darfur to have heart, genocide is rare across the globe. I understand that these are local issues that pertain to life in the United States, but don't believe that should prevent me from writing about them even if this medium is a global medium.

October 23, 2006 10:22 AM  
Blogger Padraig said...

"I find Christian Nationalism (where ever it rears its ugly head) as abhorrent as you and many others, but I guess I was trying to put it into a global perspective and thus not totally bury any hope of continuous Enlightenments."

How is it "abhorrent" if you don't actually take it seriously? Do you mean its just some trivial historical aberration that will inevitably, surely, voluntarily fade away of its own accord without challenge? The policies resulting from their "bile" (eg the planned catastrophic invasion of Iran, the abolition of habeas corpus etc) are now uncritically accepted by a majority of Americans ...

For a global perspective, try this:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15032.htm

Its a Ch. 4 (a British TV channel) documentary "The Doomsday Code" about the End Timers and the spread of "rapturous" Christian fundamentalism - from Africa to Israel - and its impact on US domestic and foreign policy.

October 23, 2006 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought there was still a difference in English between immanent and imminent but never mind. Your disgruntled spell-checker

November 02, 2006 3:58 AM  

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