Monday, May 22, 2006

State of Belief: May 21 (Part 3)

This is part 3 of 3. I found out about this special edition of State of Belief in this Kos diary. More about this conversation at Talk2Action. I'm tired, and my brain hurts. I'm hoping there aren't any huge, embarrassing errors contained herein. In particular, while I have done bunches of transcripts, this is the first time I have done one with 4 different people, three of whom I'd never heard speak before. So, if I mislabeled any of the remarks in these entries, please let me know.

Gaddy: Now, Dr. Dorhauer, I know you have a web site where you write about this. One of my concerns, and it grows out of my experience with the SBC, is that lay people, just good-hearted people that want a good denomination and a good nation, don't know what's going on. If they knew better, they would act.

Dorhauer: I think that's absolutely right. I write weekly for a web site called Talk2Action, and what I write about is how the local church experiences this phenomenon. Again, many of the members in the local church have no idea who the IRD is, have no idea about Reconstructionist theology, and Dominionism. They're just good people, and they hear people whom they respect and trust telling them, that because of the UCC position on marriage equality, it is now an evil institution. We have a tape of a pastor preaching a sermon in one of our UCC churches, in which he says that the UCC is like dog crap cooked into a brownie--that just a little bit of it ruins the whole thing. Now, his mindset is that the UCC *must go*. I don't think there was anyone in that congregation who felt that way prior to his preaching that sermon. But once he preached it and moved them down that road, they immediately felt that they must disassociate themselves from this evil institution known as the United Church of Christ.

Gaddy: We know that the UCC is in the crosshairs . What other denominations are in the crosshairs.

Weaver: Half of all the money the IRD spends is in attacks on the United Methodist Chuch. It is the big battleship. And if you take out the 45 million people that are represented by the National Council of Churches, you're going to hollow out one of the cores of this democracy. So there's an attack on *all* of them, the Presbyterians, the Episcopalians, the United Chuch of Christ... And when Rev. Thomas spoke up recently, the head of the UCC, there was a full blast smear of him. And people are intimidated. The United Methodist bishops must have the courage to stand up and take this on, because our church is in peril of being split, and certainly being muted in terms of its conscience.

Gaddy: My experience in Southern Baptist life was that people who talk like the three of you talk, are called troublemakers. You're the real troublemakers.

Dorhauer: At my last church I was identified as the antichrist from the pulpit of the First Baptist Church in town I last served.

Gaddy: The other problem is that there are many people saying "You're making too much of this. It's only a tempest in a teapot, it will go away." The SBC was lost, not because of those trying to take it over, but because of people arguing that it wasn't a big deal, and people came in.

Weaver: Naivite is at the core of this. All these traditions have niceness at the core, and are taught to be nice. While we've been thinking it's touch football, they've been playing tackle.

Gaddy: (after interview is over)

They represent three Protestant denominations, but they've all spoken of the same experience. And friends, I can assure you that what's going on in those three denominations is going on in other Christian denominations, and in fact in many of the historic religious traditions that call our country home. It seems like all over the world, rabid fundamentalist, literalist interpreters of scriptures are trying to claim the center of religious traditions. We've only scratched the surface on this issue today, and these gentleman have all written extensively on the topic. I encourage you to go to our web site, State of, and you'll see their resources for charting this right wing campaign.

And of course this isn't happening in isolation. It is also tied to political movements. We've heard stories of prison mosques being taken over by radical fundamentalists and in some instances, prisons being run by faith-based funding from the federal government. Just recently on State of Belief, we heard from a woman activist who described Hindu temples in which women are seen as property.

If there's one thing that we've learned from all of these stories and from what we've heard on today's show, it is that ideological corruption of a house of worship *anywhere* is a threat to the integrity of houses of worship *everywhere*. So if you have your own story of political changes in your church, your temple, your mosque, or any house of worship or community of faith, we really would like to hear about it. Send us an e-mail from State of, or call us at (212) 871-8280. We want to hear your responses to today's show. The only way to combat the push to politicize religion, is to start speaking openly about what we've experienced. I hope today's show is only the beginning of a much-needed national conversation.

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