Last August, we had to endure wanna be cult leader Glenn Beck‘s “Restore Honor” rally on the anniversary and locale of Dr. Martin Luther King’s iconic I Have A Dream speech. Billed as a non-political event with the message that America “has wandered in darkness”, the bullet proof vest wearing Beck told his television audience the following week that “many, many miracles” had occurred, including a seasonal flyover of geese. “I think it was God’s flyover.”
At the other end of The Mall, presidential wannabe Michele Bachmann held her own impromtu rally in front of the Washington Monument. Not to be outdone on the miracle front, she apparently was inspired by the New Testament story about Christ’s miraculous multiplication of a few loaves and fishes into enough food to feed a hungry multitude. Proclaimed the Teabagger High Priestess: “We’re not going let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today because we were witnesses!”
Well, so was CBS News, who hired AirPhotosLive to take aerial pictures and conduct its own estimate. They concluded that the crowd was more like 87,000, or 92% less than what Bachmann said it was. Still a miracle, perhaps, but in reverse: a few fishes and loaves transmogrified into a minnow and a crumb. (Two months later at the same location, Jon Stewart‘s “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” drew 2.5 times that, or 215,000 according to AirPhotoLive.)
Fast forward a year later to “The Response.” Another stealth political rally in religious garb starring another potential presidential candidate, Texas Governor Rick Perry, it is to be held this Saturday Aug. 6 at Houston’s 71,000 seat Reliant Stadium. (As of Aug. 4, only 8,000 tickets had been sold.) Billed as “A call to prayer for a nation in crisis”, it is being organized by the American Family Association, which People For the American Way President Rick Keegan describes as promoting…
...intolerance of non-Christian faiths and of Christians who do not subscribe to a specific set of evangelical political views. The AFA’s chief spokesman Bryan Fischer has called for banning the building of mosques in the United States and requiring that immigrants convert to Christianity before entering the country. He calls gays and lesbians “domestic terrorists” and “Nazis” and flatly states that “liberals hate God.”
On the theory that geese of a feather flock together, it should prove instructive to see who else the AFA has invited to address the politically spiritually hungry multitudes. Think Progress provides a rundown:
A quick look at the event’s endorsement list features a who’s-who of extreme right-wing religious figures. They warn of dire consequences for our nation: birds dying out because gays can serve in the military, hurricanes ravaging “sinful cities,” even Oprah Winfrey being a sign of the Apocalypse. Yet despite their outlandish beliefs and rhetoric, Perry features their support prominently on the event’s website.
ThinkProgress has compiled the top outlandish beliefs from pastors associated with Perry’s prayer rally:
– Oprah is a sign of the Apocalypse: In his channel on GOD TV, Mike Bickle called Oprah a “forerunner to the harlot movement.” Bickle also warned that traditional “marriage will be…defiled” as the “gay marriage agenda, which is rooted in the depths of Hell,” progresses.
– Blackbirds are dying because of gay soldiers: Dr. Cindy Jacobs recorded a video declaring a connection between the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the sudden death of blackbirds in Beebee, Arkansas as a divine punishment. She also called “girl-on-girl kissing” a “plague on society” and asked divine forgiveness for the violation of a woman’s “natural use.”
– The Statue of Liberty is a “demonic idol”: In various sermons, John Benefiel called the Statue of Liberty a “demonic idol.” He also expressed a belief that homosexuality is a plot contrived by the Illuminati “to limit the world population.”
– Hurricane Katrina was divine retribution for the city’s “sin”: John Hagee said residents of New Orleans were at fault for Hurricane Katrina: “I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that.” Hagee has also insinuated that “the Holocaust…was the fault of Jews themselves” and Hitler acted as a “hunter” corralling the Jews into Israel.
– Gay rights movement from the “pit of hell”: Dwight McKissic denounced comparisons between the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement because the latter is a “satanic anointment…inspired by the anti-Christ” that comes from the “pit of hell.” McKissic also said that “God uses natural disasters to punish evil,” pointing to Hurricane Katrina because “New Orleans flaunts sin.”
– Jesus actually opposed the minimum wage: Influential pastor David Barton has made a name for himself by distorting Biblical text to support his claim that Jesus opposed the minimum wage and the capital gains tax. Barton has also argued that public school students are getting “homosexual indoctrination.”
– Children of gay parents are like orphans of 9/11: During this year’s Faith and Freedom conference, ThinkProgress reported on Jim Garlow’s comparison of orphans of the September 11th attacks to children raised in same-sex households. Garlow is also known for his controversial allegation that African Americans have saved the country from the “enslavement of gay marriage.”
– Director of a Christian para-military group: Jay Swallow is the Director of SWAT, a “Christian Military Training Camp” organized “for the purpose of dealing with the occult and territorial enemy strong holds in America.” Participants of the training session sign a liability waiver before becoming “warriors” against “occult and territorial enemy strongholds in America.” Participants are also trained “how to pray for casinos on Native American land.”
– African Americans are “cursed” by homosexuals: Willie Wooten published a book about the curse of the African American people. He wrote that their tolerance of “immorality” in the Democratic Party begets curses of “adultery, incest, children from incestuous union, children born out-of-wedlock, destroyed virginity, bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism.”
-Aubrey Murray (HT: Right Wing Watch)
Man, these so-called religious leaders are worse than the wealthy Pharisees who plotted the death of Christ! At least the lattter considered helping the poor a good thing, notwithstanding their grandstanding while doing so. As The Urantia Book recounts:
The wealthy Pharisees were devoted to almsgiving, and they did not shun publicity regarding their philanthropy. Sometimes they would even blow a trumpet as they were about to bestow charity upon some beggar. It was the custom of these Pharisees, when they provided a banquet for distinguished guests, to leave the doors of the house open so that even the street beggars might come in and, standing around the walls of the room behind the couches of the diners, be in position to receive portions of food which might be tossed to them by the banqueters.
How long before the working poor and vast swaths of what used to be the world’s most envious middle class become the 21st century equivalent of street beggars, waiting desperately for some trickle-down from the Lords of Wall Street? As was said about the institution of supply side Voodoo Economics during the Reagan years:
The way to feed rabbits is to feed hay to horses.
The destruction of the social safety net crafted under FDR ‘s New Deal proceeds apace. The Teabaggers, financed by billionaire plutocrats like the Koch Brothers, are suddenly the dominant political force in Washington. Having beaten President Obama like a rented mule over the extension of the Bush’s tax cuts for the super-rich in December; and then again this week vis a vis his capitulation to the Teabaggers’ demand for deep cuts in discretionary spending while getting no revenues in return, the table is set for the next chapter of “Disaster Capitalism Comes to the U.S.” As is said about the drug trade:
First they sell you the disease, and then they sell you the cure.