Monday, June 8, 2009

Again with the Blood: Lew Engle Prays Over Newt and Huck at Virginia Conference

They’re back. With the blood. Or truth is, they have never gone away.

Bruce Wilson has just published a very important article at Huffington Post about the involvement of Lew Engle of TheCall in the media-hyped event at which Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich appeared recently in Virginia—a “Rediscovering God in America” meeting at Rock Church in Virginia Beach, to call the faithful to prayer and action as the state’s new election cycle begins.

At the Rock Church (isn’t it interesting how right-wing Christians have been gravitating to those manly slogans—Rock Church, build it on the rock, etc.—in recent years?), Newt informed the faithful that we’re at sea in a culture awash with pagan tides, and Huck told us we Americans belong to God in a special, unique way that transcends the connections of all other nations to the divine.

But as Wilson notes, in focusing on those themes, mainstream media coverage of the recent event at the Rock misses the point: the most significant point to be noted about this meeting is the troubling, overt way in which the Republican right is now claiming its connection to extremist right-wing groups like Lou Engle’s TheCall, with its doctrine of blood atonement and its call for martyrs, and its roots in the New Apostolic Reformation movement, a movement tied to white-supremacist groups using aberrant theological ideas to justify their racist agenda. (And to which Sarah Palin belongs . . . .)

As I noted in a previous posting about Engle, in Wilson’s view, anyone interested in maintaining a viable democracy in the U.S. should pay attention to these dangerous political movements rooted in bloody apocalyptic theology, because they are now seeking to mainstream ideas and rhetoric of anti-abortion terrorist groups previously considered radical fringe groups.

And there, right in the middle of it all, are Newt and Huck, being prayed over by Lou Engle. Listen to Engle in the clip accompanying the HuffPo article about this. Listen, and tell me you aren’t at least a tad bit troubled by this furious rhetoric about blood, the need for blood, the need for martyrs—here, now, in the America in which we live today. Whose blood? Where is it going to come from?

And who’s going to shed it? And why do men like Engle and Newt and Huck have such astonishing confidence that God is on their side, urging them to talk about the shedding of blood, about punishing those who disobey God? Listen to Engle rant on in his minatory, excited gravely voice about the shedding of blood, and tell me you don’t hear echoes of what Scott Roeder’s ex-wife told the media following Roeder’s murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas a week ago.

Lindsey Roeder said that, as her husband cast about for a scapegoat to blame for all that disturbed him in contemporary society, he turned from taxes to God and abortion. He developed an extreme “eye-for-an-eye” theology. He became oh so convinced—absolutely certainthat God was on his side, that he and his kind spoke for God. That they own God, that they know God’s mind, that they speak for God in our culture awash with tides of paganism: Lindsey Roeder said, “That's all he cared about is anti-abortion. ‘The church is this. God is this.’Yadda yadda,' she said.”

Absolutist claims by men absolutely convinced of their rightness and preeminence and claims to ownership, angry men who fear the loss of their control of everything, and who invent absolutist, self-serving religious ideologies to justify their bloody attempts to regain control . . . .

The church is this; God is this. We are awash in paganism. We need to reclaim this nation for God—for our God, for the God whom we uniquely own and for whom we uniquely speak. We need, if necessary, to use techniques of intimidation to assure that our way (which is to say, God’s way) prevails in this land awash in paganism, this land that once belonged to God (which is to say, to us, to white heterosexual men like us).

We need, if necessary, to murder to get your attention, to tell you that we mean business, that this land belongs to God (which is to say, to us), that we (which is to say, God) will take it back—by force, if necessary.

What we are seeing now are the first glimmerings—the first open glimmerings—of the fascism that has been lurking inside the soul of the Republican party and its extreme right wing (including the religious right) for some time now, and is being released following the last elections. I use the term with care, and deliberately, knowing it is an overused buzz word that has come to mean almost anything.

I use the term “fascism” here in its classic sense, to mean political gestures designed to put those promoting progressive change—and democracy itself—in their place, to tell them that democracy will be enacted in this particular place and time at a steep price. And that price will include violence, if violence is necessary.

Fascists are people of the fist, the iron fist. When they believe themselves to be in power—when their control is reasonably secure—they cover that fist with a velvet glove, and only those who are easy, convenient prey, or overtly transgressive, see the iron fist inside the glove, smashing down on their heads.

But let these men (and they are men, even when their male-produced and male-dominated and male-controlled movements also draw some women, the women who traditionally belong to these men or who are attracted to their violence) sense that they are losing control, and the glove comes off.

Scott Roeder has just informed us that other acts of violence similar to the one he recently committed are being planned around the nation. And of course they are being planned—if not systematically and in an organized way, then in the dark corners of the collective psyche shared by heterosexually identified white men and all who collude with them, men furious at the sense that they (and their God, the one they uniquely represent, the one on whose behalf they do violence to everyone beneath them) are losing control.

Acts of violence by such men are designed not only to tell their traditional targets that said targets are in for a good old-fashioned beating. They are also designed to warn the nation that if it adverts to the suffering of such targets, or decries the violence of the men who own and rule us, or expects too much change too fast, consequences will follow.

These acts of violence are not designed so much to stop progressive change and the rehabilitation of the democratic structures of our society, as to control the rate of that change, to assure that, to every extent possible, it remains managed change. With the men who rule us pulling all the levers and doing the managing, and claiming to do so in God’s name.

And as this happens in the nation with the soul of a church, what do the mainstream media do? Do they analyze the bizarre “religious” roots of this fascist ideology and behavior? Do they warn us about what is taking place? Do they follow through on the many strong indicators that link Scott Roeder to Randall Terry’s Operation Rescue, which brought us the bloody dolls at Notre Dame—Roeder’s comment on Operation Rescue’s website, the fact that an Operation Rescue phone number was found in Roeder’s car and Operation Rescue provided him with information about Dr. Tiller’s comings and goings?

No. The media persist and will persist in reporting about Roeder’s act of violence as an act of an unhinged lunatic acting alone, informed neither by rhyme nor reason. The media persist and will persist in informing us that while Muslims murder, Christians don’t.

The media will continue to hide the clear, patent religious roots of violence like Roeder’s, while playing up the religious roots of violence like that committed by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad when he shot an Army recruiter in Little Rock last week. Because Muslims murder. Christians don’t.

And why will the mainstream media continue to behave this way? Because they belong, lock, stock, and barrel to heterosexually identified white men and all who collude with them, men furious at the sense that they (and their God, the one they uniquely represent, the one on whose behalf they do violence to everyone beneath them) are losing control. And who want to remind us—as does Scott Roeder, as does Randall Terry, as do Newt and Huck and Lew Engle—that if we do not permit them to control the pace and direction of change in this nation, there will be consequences for our resistance.