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Ryan Ebersole

Ryan Ebersole
Location
Hattiesburg, Mississippi,
Birthday
March 16
Bio
I'm Ryan Ebersole, and this is my first blog. I am a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, studying counseling psychology. So far, I've managed to survive down here in Mississippi, although I've lived in Indiana, Texas, Illinois, Florida and Puerto Rico. Hopefully I add another state to that list soon! I'm hopelessly idealistic when it comes to my world view, although I try to approach it from a pragmatic view. However, I'd rather be wrong a lot then to give up my faith in humanity. As a gay man, I take the rights of my community very seriously. I hope to be a little mini-advocate; I want to spread news about my community in the hopes of growing support for our full equal rights. I also help to shed light on what ignorance can foster: anti-LGBTQA violence and pain. Ultimately, I'm a happy guy, with an odd sense of humor and a sense of ridiculousness. In the end, I just hope you read my blog! :)

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Salon.com
Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 5, 2011 1:24PM

Rick Perry and the Push for American Theocracy

Rate: 21 Flag

Perry  

The political right wing has never been far from the Bible, at least in rhetoric. However, recently there has been an increasing push to further inject their version of Christianity into the governance of the nation.

Besides recent anti-abortion laws and efforts to bar LGBT rights, prominent politicians, including Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, have forged ties with controversial fundamentalist Christian groups. Perhaps the most eyebrow-raising group to have worked its way into the political arena is the New Apostolic Reformation which demands nothing less than world rule by fundamentalist Christians.

Many in the conservative right push the notion that the United States was founded as a "Christian nation," ignoring evidence to the contrary found in the First Amendment, the Treaty of Tripoli, and the works of Thomas Jefferson.

This line of thought has been used to justify discriminating against LGBT citizens and women, among others as well as pushing religious doctrine into science classrooms.

To better understand this theocratic push, one must understand the term dominionism. This concept proclaims that Christians have a divine duty to rule and to rule according to Biblical principles. It is derived from a sect called Christian Reconstructionism which advocates replacing American law with laws supposedly straight from the Bible (executing homosexuals, stoning adulterers, among others). The dominionism movement, which has drawn support from a range of extremist sects, appears to be just as political as it is theological.

One prominent political figure who seems to be caught up in the dominionism movement is the latest Republican presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Let's look at how Perry's views on this have affected his governance of Texas.

Perhaps the easiest to see is Perry's puritanical and obsessive push for abstinence-only education, now mandated in 94 percent of Texas school districts. Despite the results to the contrary, Perry insists, "It works." The curriculum for these programs in public schools includes Bible verses, religious instruction, and factually incorrect information about contraceptives. The results: Texas has the third highest teen birth rate, and the third highest teen HIV-infection rate.

Then there is Perry's opposition to repeal of Texas's now-unconstitutional criminalization of sodomy. In fact, the 2010 Texas GOP platform Perry ran on explicitly calls for the criminalization of gay sex.

Perry's August 6 "The Response" event at Houston's Reliant Stadium was perhaps the most telling example of how much his extreme brand of Christianity factors into his politics. Promoting this fundamentalist-Christian event with a gubernatorial decree, Perry pushed the bounds of the separation of church and state.

This event was intended to "call upon Jesus" to help combat our "financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters" as well as, of course, the increasing acceptance of homosexuality. Among the participants in this prayathon were the American Family Association - a Southern Poverty Law Center-designated hate group that compares gays to Nazis and wants to recriminalize homosexuality, and the International House of Prayer, a group known for pushing Uganda's "kill the gays" bill. Also participating were various pastors with bizarre religious beliefs including one that tied Japan's economic downfall to imperial demon sex, one who claimed that Oprah Winfrey was the precursor to the Anti-Christ, and another who claimed that the Statue of Liberty is a demonic idol.

These pastors all belong to the New Apostolic Reformation, which subscribes wholeheartedly to the ideology of dominionism. Many of them view Rick Perry as their ticket into power. The pastors in this movement often style themselves as prophets or apostles with a direct line to God.

Back in 2009, a pair of "prophets" from this group, Tom Schlueter and Bob Long, visited Rick Perry in Texas. According to "prophesies," they said, Texas was the "Prophet State" that will lead the United States to a Christian theocracy, and Gov. Perry was a big part of the plan. Apparently, Perry has bought into their "prophesy," as his "Response" event was stacked with NAR members.

Perhaps this explains one of Perry's comments on Fox News. Speaking to Neil Cavuto in June about his low poll numbers in Texas, Perry remarked, "A prophet is generally not liked in his hometown."

There are several theocracies currently in existence around the world. These include Iran and Saudi Arabia. These countries enforce archaic, often barbaric, versions of religious or pseudo-religious regulations as law.

Now imagine an America ruled actively as a theocratic nation. Gays and lesbians, at least 20 million people in America, would be put to death or at least imprisoned. Abortion would be outlawed even if the mother's life were at risk. Religious freedom would be thrown out the window. The state would censor media to enforce someone's interpretation of Christian-consistent content. The teaching of evolution and the study of evolutionary biology would be banned as blasphemy. Books ranging from "Catcher in the Rye" to "Harry Potter" could be banned nationwide.

Is this a nation that we as Americans want to become? If not, perhaps we ought to watch more closely who we vote for

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Thanks for this sobering post, Ryan. It seems the separation between church and state needs to be rebuilt, again and again and again.

There is no excuse for Perry, or anyone for that matter, associating with a known hate group. It sounds like there is quite a bit of backlash to this event, though, which is good. This comes from C. Welton Gaddy, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Interfaith Alliance and a Baptist minister: "I want to be clear that my criticism of the governor doesn't stem from my lack of appreciation for religion, rather it comes from my deep respect for religion and from not wanting religion to be prostituted for political purposes."

Great, informative post!
I *just* wrote a blog about this too. Very nice.
Thanks for the info. Perry is even scarier than I thought.
What is even scarier is that there are millions of people who support him.
Terrifying. I remember not all that long ago, when I thought I was lucky to live in America.
Thanks for this understandable breakdown. I kept hearing, "Michelle Bachmann's nuts, but that guy Perry...he's worse." Now I understand much better! Thanks for the "awakening." Rated.
Informing people about Perry's associations and presumed views/intentions sounds like a good idea, but...as Jan reminds us, there are millions of people who voted for Perry for gov and would vote for him for prez, and there may be many more millions who, upon hearing the Dominionism dogwhistle, will line up at the polls. The *people* cannot always be trusted.
Jan and Myriad make a good point. There have always been people like Rick Perry around; what has changed is that there are now millions of people who think someone like him would make a great president. If Reagan had openly held such beliefs 30 years ago he'd never have been elected. If George W. Bush had openly held such beliefs 12 years ago he'd never have been elected. Yet in the year 2011 Christofascism is apparently considered a credible ideology among the new style of conservatives exemplified by the Tea Party and their political darlings. Hatespeak has become not only acceptable but fashionable, as long as it's wrapped in the flag and brandishing a cross.
As Jefferson Davis famously pointed out, there is not a word in the Bible "from Genesis to Revelation" against the institutuion of slavery. I wonder if restoration of slavery will be part of their new Christian legal system. At a minimum it is high time these poltical pressure groups lost their tax-exempt status as soc-called "religions."
Hey, wait a minute! Isn't that a Hindu gesture Perry is making with his hands in that photo? Is he a secret traitor to Christian America? Could it be? No? How can you be sure? Maybe he's a closet Hindu, come to impose worship of Ganesh upon unwary Christian Americans...
As you point out, if the dreams of Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmanm, and their ilk come true we will live in a state essentially no different than that of Iran. R
Ah, yes, we must ban all forms of religion in America. Except of course the region of celebrating homosexuality, the religion of abortion, the religion of speech censorship... I mean political correctness. In fact the only idols that should be worshiped by mandate of the state is the worship of the state.
Yes, a voice of reason. I see it--it has been the Religious Right's goal since they reared their ugly, deranged heads into politics in the late seventies. They are on the verge of taking all forms of government in the 2012 election and their vision will become all of our vision. It should be a blast having people who think the Grand Canyon was formed during Noah's Flood in charge.
When Bush (the Lesser) was in office, I was less troubled by his faith-based statements than I am by Perry's today. Bush always seemed like a closet moderate (in relative terms) who mainly brought the fundies along for political purposes, but Perry looks like the real deal. And don't get me started on Bachmann...

The scary part about such theocratic talk is that heathens like me have a tendency to think: "They can't really believe that insane stuff they're saying, surely?" But then it turns out that some of them do. And it's almost impossible to tell whether they mean it or not until they win elections.

Which is a long-winded way of saying: Don't take any chances, America! And hang on to that separation of church and state. As a Norwegian, I envy you on that point.
That disease you're talking about is really bad here in Texas. The fundies control a lot of stuff just like the Wizard of Oz did: from behind a curtain.

Christian fundamentalism isn't a solution to moral decline, it's symptomatic of moral decline.
So good to see you are on to this stuff...dominionism & the New Apostolic Reformation (not a band)...let's hear more!
As much as the right wing drools over Christian sharia law, the fact remains that there are just too damn many people in this country who don't share this religious zealotry.
The fundies vote, and vote as they are instructed from the pulpit. It is critical that everyone else vote in order to prevent a theocratic takeover.
How dare you criticize Perry. He's got the brains of Geroge W. and the heart of Dick Cheney.
Do you realize that you described Islamic countries perfectly?

Islam wants all gays beheaded. There is to be no other Faiths, except for Islam, in their country. You cannot build a church, Synagogue or any other religious place of worship in an Islamic country, without being possibly put to death. Women are just above dogs as far as Islam is concerned. They will stone you at the drop of a hat. The list of human rights violations is endless in an Islamic country.

Yet liberals defend Islam vehemently. Why is that?
@Tommy T
What you are describing is a THEOCRACY- in which religion makes all the laws. Granted, the majority of theocracies in the world are currently Islamic - with the exception of the Vatican City (don't see any Mosques or Synagogues there).

Liberals don't defend the belief itself (as an atheist I find them all equally absurd) , or theocracies abroad. What we are defending is the Freedom of Religion found in the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. Muslims in America have the exact same rights of religion as Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Hindus, Zoroastians, Shikhs, etc. Liberals do not defend "Sharia"- a non-issue in our nation.

But in the end, you more or less made my point. Many conservatives in our government are promoting their religious notions and trying to actively inject them in our nation's laws. While they may not be Islamic, Christian biblical laws have no place in our country. Regardless of their beliefs- a theocracy is a bad idea. I'm still waiting for Republicans to understand that.