Friday, February 10, 2012

Brother Al on Obama and Commies

I periodically refer to the work of Brother Al, aka, the Rev. Albert Mohler, leading theological of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and president of its flagship seminary, because he provides a good glimpse at what kind of thinking is prevalent among Republican conservatives. The SPC is the largest Protestant denomination in the US. And Brother Al provides his political dictates in more restrained form with more intellectual pretensions than Republican Party chief ideologist Rush Limbaugh or his imitators on hate radio.

Brother Al, in other words, provides a vocabulary that people can use to agree with Rush and Glenn Beck and Mad Annie Coulter without sounding like a bloviating junkie bigot or an clinically-disturbed, hate-filled harpy.

In The President, the Pill, and Religious Liberty in Peril 02/02/2012, Brother Al tells us that Obama opposes Christianity. "The edict from President Obama to religious institutions is this — violate conscience and bend the knee to the government, or face the consequences," the good Reverend declares to his readers.

What, you say? You hadn't heard that federal agents were going to be force-feeding birth control pills to respectable Baptists ladies who don't believe in having sex?

Well, what Brother Al is talking about is that under the Affordable Care Act regulations, religious institutions will be required to provide their employees access to health insurance that includes bill control pills. You have to be pretty willing to bend the truth to twist this, as Brother Al does, no doubt with the noblest of Christian intentions, into the accusation that the President "has trampled religious liberty under the feet of the leviathan state, forcing religious employers to do what conscience will not allow. Religious organizations such as schools, colleges, and hospitals will be required to pay for services that they believe to be immoral and disobedient to God."

Nonsense. Nobody is forcing employees of these institutions to take birth control. For that matter, the minimum wage laws that also apply to these institutions don't prevent employees who think they are overpaid from giving half their wages back to the religious institution with which the employer is associated. They would even get a tax break from the Leviathan State for doing so.

Another example of how Brother Al is willing to give voice to gutter extremism (but with a nice shave) is his podcast Christianity and the Cold War: A Conversation with Paul Kengor, apparently from 12/04/2011 (transcript here dated 01/11/2012). It's stock anti-Communist sleaze-slinging right out of the 1950s, which was more directed at Democratic liberals than at actual Communists. It has the same vague guilt-by-association nonsense and spectacular non-sequiters that at standards parts of this kind of extremist discourse.

The main point of this seems to be that public schools have a secret purpose to promote Communism and atheism and destroy the family, whatever the latter might mean. How do Brother Al and his guest reveal this remarkably well-hidden Communist conspiracy? (One change for the 1950s: then they could have called it a Red conspiracy, because that was the color used to designate Communists then, rather than Republicans as it is now.)

Well, you see: The philosopher John Dewey was influential in the early half of the 20th century on American pedagogical theories. And the Soviet government in Russia had some of his books translated into Russian. So Dewey must be a Commie. And Commies hate religion and want to destroy the family so American public schools are trying to destroy religion and the family.

And I guess this means that public school teachers are Commie or Commie dupes, too.

This is the kind of froot-loops thinking promoted by the leading theologian of the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

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