May 16, 2016

What's up with those evangelicals, anyway?

Tonight's target of Samantha Bee's wicked satire was the religious right, and their history of meddling in politics. As usual, it was hilarious.

To explain the weirdness of evangelicals and their inexplicable love of Donald Trump, Bee took us back 50 years.

When Paul Weyrich realized that churches were full of potential Republicans, everything changed. But Morton Blackwell summed it up well when he described evangelical Christians as the "largest tract of virgin timber on the political landscape."

Bee's retort: "Well, technically virgin if you don't count butt stuff."

She then goes on to explain that it wasn't abortion that birthed today's religious right, but "good old nativism and anti-government anger when the IRS challenged the evangelicals God given right to go to school without black people."

"Oh, don't worry gays, we'll get to you," she reassured. You're just harder to spot."

But it took more than bigotry and hate to mobilize the movement. That was just the genesis. It needed a "begat" or two.

"What to do, what to do," mused Bee.

From a clip from a lecturer describing the rise of the evangelical right:

Once evangelical leaders mobilized in defense of Bob Jones University, they held a conference call to discuss the prospect of other political activities. Several people suggested possible issues. and finally a voice on the end on one of the lines said, "How about abortion?"

Bee observed, "Hey, why not. It could have been werewolves, but they were going alphabetically."

Yeah, that's the ticket!

There's much, much more, including clips of Falwell and Weyrich placing evangelical voter registration just below salvation. Today, I'm not sure they wouldn't reorder that.

Bee scratches the smarmy underbelly of evangelical Christianity and politics with biting humor, and it's grand. But the problem is real, and it is a cynical business, intended to benefit billionaires and corporations. And Republicans, of course.

I encourage you to read Kevin Kruse's book, One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America for a less humorous, but incredibly useful history of the deal Christians struck with the devil for political power.


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