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"Christianist" Hordes Failing To Impose New Dark Age

A full eleven days after Andrew Sullivan warned readers again about the “Christianist” menace, the unstoppable Christian hordes seem to have, well, stopped.

The latest evidence that the teeming throngs of zealous Puritans aren’t going to establish a Cromwellian commonwealth that crushes freedom and empowers dour church elders to monitor the private lives of Americans comes from an unexpected source: George W. Bush’s two-time choice as vice president, Richard Cheney.

Cheny, widely considered the most hard line senior figure in the Bush administration and the darling of national security conservatives across the country, had a strong and clear response to the end of the don’t ask, don’t tell policy in the military.  Said the Prince of Darkness, the arch-con of all neo-cons, the eminence grise of the undisclosed location, the Hope of Halliburton and the Unleasher of Rumsfeld, “I think the decision that’s been made with respect to allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a good one.”

Someday, Mr. Sullivan, the Christianists may fall upon the forces of freedom in an irresistible horde.  Someday the forces of puritanism and reaction may choke the spirit of free inquiry and forbid the teaching of evolution in the nation’s schools.  Someday the church ladies and the presbyters may burn all the risque books in the nation’s libraries and ban the showing of all films not rated G.  Someday Catholics, gays and Jews may huddle in fear while the thought police and the KKK hunt down dissenters in the streets of our land — but, if I may quote Aragorn son of Arathorn or at least Viggo Mortensen, today is not that day.

Tomorrow won’t be that day either.  America continues to move in a generally libertarian direction.  On economic and cultural issues, that often favors the right, disempowering economic planners and nanny state do-gooders.  On personal and social issues it often favors the left, replacing social control and enforced conformity with individual autonomy.  There is an angry left that hates the drift toward freer markets and weaker government; there is an angry right that hates modern American permissiveness.  Both mix some important insights with some serious errors; both are mostly fighting losing battles.

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  • buce

    I think you’re reading way to much into this one. Cheney has always been squishy on the gay-right thing, ever since (at least) the vice-presidential debates in 2000. Because he is so good on elective wars and suchlike, the Torquemadas have been willing to give him as bye on that one under a mantle of don’t ask, don’t tell. I also think you oversimplify the libertarians. There are some near-purists out there but most belong to the Calvin-ball faction: I make the rules and decide when they apply. It’s a view perfectly consistent with squashing any bug that doesn’t happen to appeal to my taste.

  • Corlyss

    Am I the only one that thinks Andrew Sullivan lives in a fantasy world that none of us would recognize?

  • Stephen Clark

    The amusing part in citing Puritans and puritanism in this context is that, zealots and Cromwell’s republic aside, puritanism tended to be reform-minded. I don’t think the Puritans of history, particularly the American branch, were the Puritans of the most common caricatures. I don’t recall that it was the Quakers, Methodists, Lutherns, or even the Episcopalians on whose ethos was built the backbone of Yankeedom and the New England ethos of moral improvement and social change; particularly as that could be affected through the use of state power. In otherwords, I think you can trace a line from the Puritans of New England through the abolitionists of the mid-eighteenth century through the Progressives of the early twentieth to their progressive descendents of today. I seem to recall a point like this being made by Barzun in “From Dawn to Decadence”, but I’d have to check.

  • Iustus Peccator

    As Chou En Lai said “The Revolution is never over.”

    To admit it is over, of course, is to lessen the vigilance and stop “othering” the perceived enemy. The Agent Provacateur. The Eternal Christian Moralist.

    The Dominionists. The Klan. The Fundamentalists. Palinistas. They are one in the same. Everywhere waiting for the recrudescence. (In the Kurrent Klan’s Kase, also looking for some good, cheap dental work.) Have they taken over the body of Herman Cain? Fortasse.

    Strange how the paranoid style of American politics has lurched leftward.

  • Vilmos

    I am trying to figure out which one is worse. These Christianist hordes in America, or the Jewish hordes in Iraq:

    God save us from these terrible hordes.


  • ms

    I’m not sure the characterization of those who are doubtful about comtemporary American permissiveness as the “angry right” is very fair or useful. I have always thought that libertarians are naive on social issues. Yes, we want people to have a large degree of personal freedom, and no, we do not want government interfering greatly in our personal lives, but at the same time, social mores are very important to the workings of society as a whole. Do we really want to live in a world without them? Is it really inevitable that our culture will become ever more permissive, ending in… what?

    Now, if we lived in a world populated only by adults, libertarians might have a point–who cares what consenting adults do? But thankfully we don’t live in such a world. We live in a world where sex has consequences, and those consequences are all about the lives of children. So where does a highly promiscuous culture get us? It gets us children sexualized at ever earlier ages, babies born to girls who are children themselves, the curtailment of the lives of millions of fetuses, children raised without fathers at a time when it is becoming more and more clear that having a biological father in the home whenever possible is extremely important for raising responsible adults. In light of all this, I think it behooves us all to work to restore social mores that help create a world where children are likely to have a happy and secure childhood with their responsible parents whenever possible. This is how they grow up to be responsible citizens who vote and support responsible government and pay taxes and make for a functional civil society. Not that people can’t overcome obstacles like a difficult childhood, and yes, there will always be people among us who cannot cope with adult life. Society needs to care for such people. But we also need core values that lead most adults to form good stable families who raise good, responsible children. That’s what social values are about and so I’d say that it is hardly useful to dismiss them as the silly obsession of the “angry right.”

  • WigWag

    “A full eleven days after Andrew Sullivan warned readers again about the Christianist menace, the unstoppable Christian hordes seem to have, well, stopped.” (Walter Russell Mead)

    Professor Mead is right, but the irony goes well beyond Sullivan’s trashing of devout Christians. During the first years of the 21st century, the left and the right have switched places; it’s the right that supports “liberalism” now while the left makes excuses for intolerance and bigotry.

    Sullivan claims to be a “conservative” but that’s nothing but a conceit, his political views mesh extremely well with those held by his leftist friends but perhaps it’s more accurate to say that Sullivan is politically incoherent.

    While “Christianists” may not want homosexuals to be able to marry or serve in the military, they don’t want them executed. It’s much of the Islamic world that feels homosexuality should be punished by death and Sullivan and his fellow travelers constantly make excuses for the Muslim world.

    Christianists don’t believe that Christians who convert to Islam should be hung from their necks until their spine severs; it’s much of the Islamic world that imposes capital punishment for apostasy. Sullivan and his ilk may mildly criticize the Islamic world for this but never with the venom that Sullivan reserves for “Christianists” or Zionists.

    “Christianists” surely believe that adultery is a sin, but they believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner. Sharia law, as it is extolled in much of the Islamic world has a different approach; the proper punishment for adultery, many Muslims are taught, is to heave stones at the adulterer until their skulls crack and they are no longer breathing. Why is it that Andrew Sullivan wastes so much more ink criticizing the threat of “Christianists” than he does criticizing the most barbaric practices called for by Sharia Law?

    “Christianists” may not feel a religious obligation to circumcise their sons, but they have nothing against Islamic or Jewish people who do. Strange, don’t you think, how Andrew Sullivan is so much more outraged at the thought of male circumcision than he is at the thought of female genital mutilation that is ubiquitous in some segments of the Islamic world? If you don’t believe Andrew Sullivan feels this way, count the number of posts on his site on male circumcision versus female circumcision.

    While Christian anti-Semitism has been an ancient and despicable feature of the Christian world, today, tens of millions of Christians live by a new credo. They proudly announce to their Jewish brothers and sisters the words of Genesis 12:3; “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Andrew Sullivan seems to find this biblical passage revolting. It’s not in Christian bookstores that “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” are found almost everywhere, it’s in bookstores throughout the Islamic world where this anti Jewish forgery can be discovered anywhere you look. Why it is that Sullivan excoriates Christian Zionists but rarely has anything to say about a Muslim world that is profoundly anti-Semitic?

    It’s all pretty simple really; Andrew Sullivan and his fellow travelers have traded in a love for liberalism and pluralism for a love for multiculturalism. As I said earlier, the left and the right have traded places and it’s those on the right who are the liberals now.

    It’s not the Christianists who are a threat to decency; it’s Andrew Sullivan and those who think like he does.

  • Luke Lea

    @Cheney – “I think the decision that’s been made with respect to allowing gays to serve openly in the military is a good one.”

    And if it turns out not to be we can adjust policy later.

  • Luke Lea

    @WRM – “Someday the church ladies and the presbyters may burn all the risque books in the nation’s libraries and ban the showing of all films not rated G. ”

    I’ve pretty much solved that last problem. I only watch Turner Classic Movies these days. What a mother lode!

  • Joshua Chamberlain

    The “drift toward freer markets and weaker government”? I’m sorry, but there is not evidence of such a thing.

  • Joshua Chamberlain

    The “drift toward freer markets and weaker government”? I see no evidence of that.

  • Jim.


    Bravo! I wonder if WRM can read your comment without any sense of shame.


    Bravo! You’re a clear-headed thinker, and on occasion (like this one) you hit the nail right on the squarely on the head.

    @Luke Lea:

    I don’t think we’re going to have to wait all that long before a unit’s in-combat destruction because of too-deep personal connections (as the military research predicts disgracefully ignored by the Obama administration indicates) or a new variation on the Tailhook scandal theme shows up, and we all see that this was a very, very bad idea.

    Soldiers on their best behavior — when they believe they are under pressure to maintain decorum — are amazing. But think for a moment what they’re like when that pressure (like the pressure that DADT provided) comes off… they can be utterly abhorrent.

    There will be scandal, and it will be ugly. (Look to the shame of our prisons if you don’t believe me.) And the pendulum will swing back the other way.

  • Jim.

    The primary logical problem with Sullivan’s piece is his tendency to confuse everything he does not like in the GOP into a straw man he calls “Christianism”. A few positions he cites are religious positions; for the rest, he just uses religion as a punching bag. To pin that on Christianity is barely short of libel, and is certainly bigotry.

    Sullivan’s article tells you more about Sullivan and his problems with religion than it does about any “problems” religion or the GOP might have.

    It’s very sad to see the degree to which WRM plays along.

  • Luke Lea

    @Stephen Clark: “I think you can trace a line from the Puritans of New England through the abolitionists of the mid-eighteenth century through the Progressives of the early twentieth . . .”

    Stephen Clark is right about that. I’m just reading a short bio of Jane Adams in Christopher Lasch’s history of “radicalism” (as he calls it) in America. She was a direct descendant of John Adams, 4th or 5th generation, and a pioneer in welfare social work.

    An even better example is Francis Perkins, FDR’s right-hand man (woman) who virtually defined the New Deal agenda: workmen’s comp, unemployment insurance, end of child labor, old-age assistance, workplace safety, etc.. Perkins made a deal with FDR which she agreed to serve him (they had already worked together when he was governor of New York): she would do it if, and only if, he would commit to her agenda, which she wrote out on a piece of paper for him to read. He promised, and it is one of the few promises he ever kept.

    Perkins also happened to be a superb story teller. Her memoirs, tape recorded after she retired, are available on-line as part of Columbia University’s oral history project. They are full of anecdote, inside gossip, intrigue that you will never read anywhere else.

    By the end you can appreciate the extent to which Perkins was motivated by her New England Christian faith (she was old New England stock), and that this woman was one of the cleverest, most accomplished, and entertaining social reformers who ever lived. If there were such a thing as secular sainthood I would put her at the top of the list.

  • Fred

    Jim, You’re right and you’re wrong. There will be a scandal and it will be ugly, but it will not result in a pendulum swing. The PC military brass and the media will see to that. They will minimize it to the extent possible, and when that doesn’t work, they will somehow blame it on “homophobia” in the ranks. The result will be more “sensitivity” training and a doubling down on policies against “discrimination” based on sexual orientation (which will include forbidding noticing when sexual scandals result from homosexuality). The scandals will continue until they become mere background noise in our culture (what’s left of it). Eventually, military readiness and effectiveness will suffer and our security will be put at risk. I doubt things will improve even then. Part of our postmodern milieu is the “fact” that reality must always bend to ideology. Sad thing is, reality has a nasty habit of coming back to bite you in the hindquarters.

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