Coming To America: The Handmaid’s Tale

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In Ayatollah Santorum & The Republic(ans) Of Gilead, we noted some eerie parallels between Margaret Atwood‘s novel The Handmaid’s Tale and a resurgence of  the extreme religious right’s influence over the GOP in this presidential election year.

The issues are familiar ones: separation of church and state (a principle that Rick Santorum said made him want “to throw up”);  moralizing over the issue of human sexuality, especially gay marriage and other non-traditional cohabitation routines  enshrined in  North Carolina‘s constitution yesterday as Amendment Onethe curtailment of  women’s reproductive rights, with a powerful assist from the Catholic Church; and presently an economic agenda, the Ryan-Romney plan, that replaces the teachings of Jesus Christ with those of Ayn Rand.

Any illusions that the lurch towards the ultra-conservative would moderate somewhat now that the GOP’s its presumptive nominee are rapidly dissipating. As Rachel Maddow notes in the clip above, Speaker of the House, John Boehner, opened the doors of the Capital’s Statuary Hall yesterday to a group of politicians religious leaders who are hell bent on remaking the USA into their version of heaven on earth.

Billed as “a prayer event”,  they included  Jim Garlow of Renewing America’s Leadership, who claims that “gay marriage is part of an attack by Satan on America”;  David Barton, who never tires of reminding people that aids is God’s revenge for homosexuality;  Alveda King, director of African American outreach for the Priests for Life who believes that support for abortion rights is just like supporting terrorism and who opined on Fux News  that the murder of Trayvon Martin was somehow  “a late abortion”; and Dan Cummins, a proponent of fusing church and state, the separation of which he calls a foreign communist concept promoted by progressives who are really just commies in disguise.

In an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the president of the Interfaith Alliance, Rev. C Welton Gaddy, said he was simply “stunned” by the whole affair. He referred to the assembled leaders as some of the world’s foremost historical revisionists whose agenda is to turn America into “a new Israel”; to “make the nation just like them.”  To set the emotional tone of the segment titled, Separation Anxiety, Rachel begins with Lou  Engle, co-founder of The Call. Now this is a guy who really believes in the power of prayer, especially his.

From Right Wing Watch:

 Like his fellow Proposition 8 supporters Che Ahn and Jim Garlow, Lou Engle maintains that their prayers led to the reversal of marriage equality in California in 2008 and a “sovereign appointment” with former San Francisco mayor (and current Lt. Gov.) Gavin Newsom “to call him to accountability to what he was going to do in that city concerning the homosexual agenda.” While speaking today with Pat Robertson on the 700 Club to publicize the upcoming The Call: Virginia, which Robertson has endorsed, Engle said his September, 2010 prayer rally in Sacramento “removed” the state’s governor from office. However, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had already made the decision not to run for re-election in November, 2009, and Democrat Jerry Brown won the gubernatorial race later that year…

As captured in the clip above, Engle says that gay marriage “will release a spirit more demonic than Islam” prophesying that if Prop 8 failed,  “sexual insanity will be released into the earth.”  In the presence of two US senators, Jim DeMint and Sam Brownback (now governor of Kansas) Engle called on God to smite down the Affordable Care Act, as if insuring the uninsured was somehow an abomination unto the Lord.

And in a nod to the notion of American exceptionalism, RWW notes:

After the passing of Chuck Colson on Saturday, Lou Engle asked God to release “hundreds with the mantle of Chuck Colson” as part of a “new generation” of activists who will be like Elijah in fighting “Jezebel’s death culture” through a “cultural revolution” while praying over a group of young people, mostly homeschoolers, who attended the conference. Towards the end, Engle started reciting the Lord ’s Prayer but changed the last word from “heaven” to “America,” praying: “Thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in America.”

You might have first heard of Engle for his involvement in this:

Engle, who brought The Call prayer rally to Uganda to help rally support for the country’s proposed “kill the gays bill,” lamented that he gets “blasted” over his anti-gay work and is “haunted that God has not opened the door for me to go after this thing.” Lindevaldsen agreed that “we need a prayer movement because a spiritual battle is at the root of this.”

While I would never presume to tell anyone how to pray, I find this accounting of the evolution of prayer from The Urantia Book instructive:

Primitive forms of prayer were nothing more nor less than bargaining with the spirits, an argument with the gods. It was a kind of bartering in which pleading and persuasion were substituted for something more tangible and costly. The developing commerce of the races had inculcated the spirit of trade and had developed the shrewdness of barter; and now these traits began to appear in man’s worship methods. And as some men were better traders than others, so some were regarded as better prayers than others. The prayer of a just man was held in high esteem. A just man was one who had paid all accounts to the spirits, had fully discharged every ritual obligation to the gods.

Early prayer was hardly worship; it was a bargaining petition for health, wealth, and life. And in many respects prayers have not much changed with the passing of the ages…


Amen to that.

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