Thursday, October 1, 2015

Christians, the Republican Party is playing you for suckers

Thirty-six years ago, David Barton wrote a book entitled, The Myth of Separation.  It was full of errors, half-truths, and revisionist history about our nation's founders, various court cases, and the history of separation of state and church in general.  Barton attempted to show us a nation in decline by providing incomplete data without historical context.

Here's n example: he provided a graph, showing the decline in college entrance exam scores (for the SAT, specifically) over a period that began when the Murry v. Curtlett and Abington v Schemp cases were decided, up through 1980 (I think--I am going off the top of my head here; I have the accurate data in my book, The King of Weasels, which I will be publishing in the next year).  This graph doesn't show us the complete data, which goes back another decade or so, and begins with a handful of schools--Ivy League schools were the only colleges to use SAT scores in the beginning.  A higher caliber of student took the SAT.  Later, the testing expanded to around 300 schools, and the test scores dropped--a wider variety of students were taking the test, and the average went down.  Then, we get to the era of the war in Vietnam, when many people went to college to avoid the draft.  The College Board offered the SAT to a much broader range of students.  Eventually, over 3000 colleges and universities offered the test, and every high school student planning on entering college began taking it.

One would expect these scores to decline accordingly, because the pool of test takers went from the top students in the country to every student planning on going to college.  But no, no, it was all the fault of the Supreme Court's decision to ban school-sponsored prayer and Bible recitation, according to Barton.

That's one example of the kind of deception Barton expects his audience to believe, but there's one that should seem more familiar, and it comes in the last chapter of The Myth of Separation.  Barton gives his readers a ten-point plan to bring the nation to theocracy (though he would never say it out loud, the name of his organization, Wallbuilders, comes from the Book of Nehemiah in the Bible, and is about a man who rebuilds Jerusalem with the help of a variety of people, then kicks out everyone but the religious zealots).  Part of the plan is to use abortion as a wedge issue.

And that brings us to the point of the article: the reason we are talking about Planned Parenthood's funding today is because the idea that abortion is murder serves as a banner behind which fundamentalist evangelical Christians and white male Catholics--a huge part of the Republican base--will rally behind.  It's no surprise that this fight is taking place as the 2016 Presidential primary campaign begins.

I assure you, Christians, the Republican Party is using you.

Abortion is a wedge issue.  It really should be a decision between a woman and her doctor, as decided in Roe v. Wade.  However, since the idea that abortion is murder is such a power motivator for Christians, the Republicans will continue to use it to energize the base.  It also solves another problem for them: poor people getting free stuff.  They don't like Planned Parenthood, because they don't like poor women getting free health care services.

Abortion comprises three percent of what Planned Parenthood does, and not one tax dollar goes to this particular service, but that's what Republicans will bring up, because it's easier to get their base to buy into de-funding abortion (which they are not paying for now) than cutting funds for free cancer screenings for poor people.

Once again, they are using you.  They don't care about the pro-life cause.  The same people who are most vocal and proud about cutting funding from Planned Parenthood also want to expand the military and want to go to war with Iran.  If you don't think they will, you have a short memory.  George W. Bush led us into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers died in those wars, and many thousands more were injured.  Many more were displaced.  People were falsely imprisoned and tortured.  How is this moral?  These are people with names, personalities, and families; one would think that a person who is pro-life would be more passionately against war than abortion, where a life that never saw light of day, never knew its name (if one was ever picked out), never developed a personality, never developed family ties.

And aren't Christians supposed to care about the poor?  I read the Bible many times. I remember that the Jesus character specifically commanded people to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.  I specifically remember that he told a rich man to give everything he had to the poor, then follow him.  I remember that he said that it was more difficult for a rich man to get into heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle (and that may have been the name for a small gate in the city wall that a camel would have difficulty getting through, but the point still stands).  Republican policies benefit the wealthy and dismiss the poor as a burden to society.  They want to cut funding from the VA, funding from welfare, funding from Social Security.  They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which helps poor people obtain health care.

I assure you, lack of access to health care is murder.

My Aunt Pam got cancer.  She was diagnosed with it, but she didn't have health care, and she didn't have the money to get treatment on her own.  It spread.  It got painful.  By the time it became so bad, she had to go to the hospital again, it was too late.  There was no treating her.  She died a few days after going to the hospital, of a cancer that was treatable when she was first diagnosed.

We didn't have the Affordable Care Act when the doctor diagnosed my aunt.  We do now, and many lives can and will be saved as a result--many people in situations like my aunt's may now be treated for terminal illness.  If Republicans take that away, they will be responsible for the murder of people like my Aunt Pam.

So, Christians who profess to be pro-life, you have a choice: you can keep rallying behind the party of war, the party of expanding poverty, and the party of taking health care away from poor people with treatable illnesses, or you can keep pretending that you're pro-life by trying to protect fetuses.

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