(8:00PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)
A few days ago I accepted the mission to go undercover behind enemy lines in order to report back on the activities of the opposition. I have now safely returned and am ready to brief you all as thoroughly as possible. The specific activities that were undertaken included a trip to the heart of the Bible Belt, holding conversations with members of the 26% crowd and attendance at a “mega church” to scope out the organizational activities.
What all this really means is that I paid a visit to my family in Dallas, Texas this weekend. As most of you know by now, they are fundamentalist, right-wing, kool-aid drinking christians; the group that STILL says they view GW favorably.
Given that in 2000, this group HATED Senator McSame, my biggest question was whether or not they were going to support him this time around. Of course, the answer to that is “yes,” but I can say that answer was not given with much enthusiasm. The reason given for the support dovetails nicely with ek’s essay today titled Die Dolchstosslegende. You see, according to them, things are going much better in Iraq these days and they fear that the Dems will engage in a precipitous withdrawal just when we might be getting close to “winning,” much like we did in Vietnam.
In other election news, the view is that McSame can beat either Clinton or Obama, but the worry is that they’ll team up before its all over and take him down. But I’d say they have a bit more to worry about than what the Dems do or don’t do. That’s because they think the motivating issue for their crowd will be the presidential selection of Supremes Court justices in the next term. What that tells me is that the religious right won’t be able to embrace things like the war or the economy as a rallying cry, but will be looking for a re-birth of the culture wars.
In some circles we’ve heard that these folks are finally getting around to embracing the climate crisis. Not this crowd!! They’re still saying that scientists are split 50/50 on the issue and that we’re just in a “climate cycle” that is natural. Nothing to worry about here…move right along.
Perhaps the most interesting part of this trip was that I attended a Sunday morning service at one of Dallas’ most well-known mega churches, Lake Pointe. It was a bit surreal to be there after all I’ve heard about these places. And it was everything I’d heard it would be…and more. The “sanctuary” seats 7,000 and was almost 3/4 full for the one of three services that day that we attended. The “complex” looks almost like a mall from the outside with huge parking lots (they had to have public assistance from the small town its in to direct traffic between services) and HUGE buildings. Much like a rock concert, the minister is broadcast on 2 large screens during the service, complete with subtext for his sermon, so that everyone can follow along.
But there was controversy in the air yesterday!!! One of the area’s own “born-againers” and a former religion writer for the Dallas Morning News, Kristine Wicker, has written a book titled The Fall of the Evangelical Nation. Ms. Wicker’s book was the subject of an article in the most recent edition of Mother Jones titled The Myth of the Moral Majority
“The idea that evangelicals are taking over America is one of the greatest publicity scams in history,” Wicker concludes, “a perfect coup accomplished by savvy politicos and religious leaders, who understand media weaknesses and exploit them brilliantly.”
This information was shaking Lake Pointe Church Sunday morning because, in an article in this weekend’s Saturday Dallas Morning News, Wicker was interviewed and quoted the pastor there.
You use Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall and its pastor, the Rev. Steve Stroope, to illustrate some of your ideas. What does Mr. Stroope think about what you wrote?
He’s not too happy with me. I planned to do a very different book [about megachurches]. I let him know that it had changed. And in fact I got a quote from him that I was able to use in the book in which he says that sometimes something has to die for something new to be born.
Sunday morning Pastor Stroope opened the service by discounting what some may have read in the newspapers and declared that Lake Pointe was not engaged in political activities.
What I take from all this is several things: First of all, the number of “evangelicals” in this country has been oversold by millions. Secondly, Wicker says people are leaving these churches in droves. Here’s a quote from The Dallas Morning News that I found particularly interesting:
When I was a kid there may have been people who didn’t want to think we [Christians] were the only ones who were saved. But there weren’t many of them. It didn’t gag people. It does now. It just does. And that’s why the Baptists have lost their evangelical zeal, and that’s why they won’t get it back. Because the zeitgeist has shifted.
I didn’t choose to get out of evangelicalism. I had to. And that’s how this turn has done the most damage to Christianity. It’s kicked people like me out by the millions. They really aren’t going out on their own volition. They are thrust out despite the fact that they lose their security, they lose their hold on God, they lose their community, they lose their friends. No angels are rejoicing. And they’re still leaving.
I sense that there are deep fissures in the right-wing evangelical crowd these days and Wicker has tapped into some of this. I actually overheard one of my family members saying angrily that Dobson should go back to teaching people how to raise their families and stay out of politics.
Perhaps the great awakening has begun!!!