True, the rabid Christian Right only represents a small percentage of the population, but they still number in the millions of organized, dedicated ditto-heads. The leading fanatical religious groups have a combined income of hundreds of millions per year. In militant followers and financial resources, we don't compare in the slightest!
To make this nightmare apocalyptic, consider: If we are to believe the polls, about 90% of Americans are favorable to Christianity. At least 70% believe in angels. About 60% accept as true the salient myths and dogmas of the Jesus Cult. Slightly over one-third believe in the literal inerrancy of the bible. Over 30% are convinced that Christ will return in their lifetimes!
This collective idiocy is due to two interlocking conditions: The tax exemptions for religion permit the fanatics to amass great wealth from donations and business ventures. Hence, they lack for little in spreading their propaganda and effecting political influence. Their task is made incredibly easier by our shoddy educational system. Our schools, at nearly all levels, seriously neglect the teaching of a comprehensive history and comparison of religions. Even when taught, such courses are frequently biased or otherwise inadequate. Virtually absent from curricula are courses that touch upon critical thinking and the need for skepticism. A religion-toadying mass media don't help. The United States has some of the world's finest research institutions, but on average, we are a country of general knowledge and scientific illiterates. Small wonder that among advanced nations, ours is the most religious by far.
It must be impressed upon the freethought community, and anyone else who will listen, that the horrors of the Middle Ages, when Christianity was in absolute control, were not the result of an off-beat biblical interpretation, just one of many possible renderings of Scripture. It is the only logical interpretation possible if the Bible is assumed to be true in every word and to reveal god's will accordingly. The logical end point of rigid belief in biblical inerrancy is brutal theocracy with the stifling of secular learning, the gory suppression of dissent, and the extermination of "witches." The medieval inquisitors, torturers, and gatherers of wood for execution pyres were merely being consistent.
The Christian or biblical reconstructionists whose raison d'etre undergirds the "thinking" of Pat Robertson and his ilk, openly advocate the killing of those with whom they disagree or are found morally lacking in their opinion. Though the lash of the Christian Right now falls heaviest upon abortion physicians and the sexually "immoral," all not in their camp must be made aware that they are next on the list. (See, for example, Frederick Clarkson, Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy.)
The rabid members of the Christian Right are so dedicated to their awful cause because they think they are buying a niche in "heaven" and avoiding the "hell" reserved for the rest of us. No matter how groundless and utterly silly this is, to deeply believe it is powerful motivation. Regretfully, history shows that irrational fanaticism frequently overwhelms reason. We must be equally dedicated ourselves to maintain what freedom we have left and leave a world worth living in for our descendants. To fail means an eventual return to the Dark Ages with modern technology to enforce control. (All freethinkers must become activists!)
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