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Enraged evangelists subvert Christianity

By Brian Morris

Staggeringly, there are more than 45,000 incarnations of Christianity in the world, according to the Centre for the Study of Global Christianity. And they should know!

Every religion has been riven with division, from the time of their own particular deity – or myriad interpretations of a holy text. But in western nations, today, there are essentially two distinct Christian divisions.

Loudest, and most angry, are the Old Testament devotees of fundamentalism. Forensic research, here and here, shows that while small in number they have come to dominate and subvert the New Testament beliefs of Christian “moderates” – those who value tolerance and inclusiveness, in a progressive modern society.

Both in sport and politics – among other institutions – there are maxims which generally state that “disunity is death”. It threatens the viability of the “team”. Christians have something similar – in the Gospel of Mark 3:25 – where Jesus is believed to have said, “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Christianity is certainly a house divided between a hardcore right wing and a sliding scale of moderates and self-styled “cultural Christians.” Census 2021 shows Christianity continues to decline, down to 43.9 per cent; but that figure is artificially high. A true number – closer to 35 per cent – will emerge when the Census finally changes its “loaded” question – “what is the person’s religion?”. Which assumes we all have one!

What mainstream media, and the political classes, refuse to discuss are the many factors which underpin a growing religious threat to progressive social legislation; and even to the roots of parliamentary democracy.

It’s not “conservativism” that seeks to wind back abortion rights for women, or same-sex marriage, or voluntary assisted dying – it’s “religionism”. And it is the resurgence of puritanical fundamentalism (within various Christian denominations) that is subverting the progressive worldview of “enlightened religious moderates.”

Wallpapering over the yawning cracks of these two wildly divergent Christian philosophies has gone on for too long, and all media outlets are culpable in avoiding the core issues. Historically, Australia has lagged America in many social, political and religious trends. To say we’re immune from the latest religiously-motivated attack on secular values – coming from the USA – serves only to aid and abet religious fanaticism.

The evangelically-stacked Supreme Court in America – which overturned Roe vs Wade – has sent shock waves through secular countries around the world. And that incredible decision has had immediate fallout within all Republication US states, which are now enacting laws to limit or criminalise any form of abortion.

Philosopher and ethicist, Leslie Cannold, writes, “pundits who believe losing abortion rights could never occur in Australia show a lack of understanding of our history – and our present.” She clearly identifies the problem.

Religious fundamentalists are emboldened by this decision of the US Supreme Court. In England the anti-abortion group CARE (Christian Action, Research and Education) are providing pro-life “researchers” at no cost to 20 MPs in Westminster. Just one local example, here, is the Edith Lyons List, where South Australian MPs met to “mentor” young people at an anti-abortion event.

Christian soldiers aren’t going away, says the Sydney Morning Herald. The rise of Pentecostalism and its extremist 7 Mountains Mandate is just one of many evangelical organisations committed to rolling back progressive laws on abortion, same-sex marriage, Voluntary Assisted Dying, and anything deemed “secular”.

Labor won the 2022 election by just 2.1 per cent of the two-party preferred vote! The religious right of Scott Morrison’s government is still in parliament. If Albanese and the Teals face further domestic and global upheavals, and fail to deliver, a very fickle public can easily reverse that 2.1 per cent at the next election.

Again, it’s not merely conservative governments, both state and federal, that are the issue. It rests with all Australian parliamentarians who are driven by a religious ethos that they regard as superior to the secular focus of our constitution. It took just 5 US Supreme Court justices to end pro-choice rights for millions of women.

So, why do we hide the religious proclivities of our parliamentarians? Government websites provide ample space for MPs to show their religious affiliations, within the other biographical details that are required. But very few are prepared to be open and honest with the public about how religion will define their vote on progressive social legislation.

Is this information not important to voters? Where is the transparency? Are there now lessons to be learnt from the US states which are currently enacting anti-abortion laws, following the defeat of Roe vs Wade? It’s well worth reading the article by Leslie Cannold.

Prime minister Albanese has established a Code of Conduct for all his ministers, with a ban on “blind trusts” and direct shareholdings. And all parliamentarians must disclose their pecuniary interests. So why not a commitment for all MPs to share their religious beliefs – or non-beliefs – with the voting public?

This is not a “religious test”, which would be contrary to section 116 of the constitution. No, it’s merely demonstrating a level of integrity on an issue which impacts directly on the business of government. And the media, too, need to ask tough questions – the US Supreme Court has made evangelism a political issue!

Abortion is not the sole topic here. Religion impacts directly on a raft of social policy identified by the National Secular Lobby. NSL is an organisation founded to counter the swathe of Christian lobbies whose sole focus is to influence the political process – and particularly with their religious colleagues in various parliaments.

So, are “moderate” Christians concerned – to any degree – by the vehemence of evangelical fervour and their affirmed quest to Christianise Australian society? And that is very clearly the objective of Pentecostalism and its 7 Mountain Mandate – yet another import from the Bible Belt of America.

A recent IPSOS poll showed 78 per cent of Australians want religion to be separated from the business of government. Clearly, within that vast public majority are millions of religious moderates who support progressive social policy – like same-sex marriage, VAD, and the right of women to have full bodily autonomy.

Do “moderates” not believe that militant evangelism is actually subverting Christianity? Is there no concern that such extremism serves only to undermine the inclusiveness and tolerance that they see in the teachings of Jesus? And what are they prepared to do about that?

 

Brian Morris is a former Journalist and Public Relations professional and the author of Sacred to Secular, a critically acclaimed analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm that it does. You can read more about him here.

 

 

 

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35 comments

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  1. RosemaryJ36

    Christianity is only one of the world’s major religions.
    The Old Testament details early Judaism, which was the foundation for the teachings of Jesus Christ.
    Every religion has its good and bad points, but none is perfect if it does not help the world be a better place.
    We need to assess each individual for their value and stop subsidising all the religions.

  2. Kerri

    Thank you for your valuable insights Brian Morris. Last Census I made a Facebook post stating (words to the effect) “On the Census, don’t put down the religion you were born to or christened in, put down the religion you actually regularly practice!” These statistics matter. The religious right feel empowered by things like the Census that fortify their belief in themselves. As a baby, even as a teenager, you do not choose your faith. Why admit to a faith you do not commit to? And be on your toes for politicians professing religious faith but following a skewed practice of said faith.

    Hear hear RosemaryJ36
    We should take heed of the US example where religion snakes it’s way into every political and legal decision.
    Seriously? How can 5 people of strong religious faith interfere in the lives of several million women?
    And yet here we had a high.y religiously motivated cabinet. Let it not happen again?
    Incidentally, my daughter’s dance teacher commented in my post and said she had always unthinkingly (her words) put down the faith she was christened under.
    Such is the strength of the loaded question.

  3. Carl Marks

    Yes, I agree with most of this. I don’t beleiver that politicised penticostalism is remotely related to actual Christianity.

    It is more like nazism, a kneejerk reaction to certain manifestations of progress that reduce influence amiong groups who may have had, or still have, power and control over others, Their alienation stems from them habituated to not embrace change, even reflexively attack thru a failure to understand it. understand themselves and other people, but exist in inculcated fear of it.

    The fear comes from commodification processes and like most of the masses commodified, the capacity for self reflexivity has been blunted due to dumbing down elements.You can’t understand other people when you have the means to do so compromised (by others ignorant and arrogant). You can’t get on withthe opposite sex, for example, if you are taught to fear and loath contact.

    So, many a well meaning ideology or religion is exploited by temporal forces eager to support trust as a means to the heads and and moderated in emphasis for consent and politicisation.

    This writer sees little or nothing in greedy,insecure and controlly Bible-Belt interpretations of the NT in particular…strange fruits ideed…and a looming tragedy for many pregnant woman with fair reasons for not wishing to not proceed with a pregnancy as well as the tragedy of the third world which is inflamed by exclusivist and exceprionalist rejection of “the other” in favour of vicious tripe involving racist, sectarian etc gut prejudices inflamed.

  4. andy56

    you can see the protestant traditions in play with our last government. Punish those that dont follow the line. Those on welfare are to be eternally damned.

  5. New England Cocky

    Uhm ….. a small historical point regarding religiosity in Australia ….. since 1788 the number of practicing ”Christians” has rarely been more than about 35% of the European population. The exceptions were convicts who attended church for an hour of relief from their otherwise intolerable conditions.

    Scummo gifting the unChristian Hell$inger$ Cult for ”Buy Your Way to Heaven Now” dispensations could reasonably be considered an attempt to fulfill the cult demand for his ”salvation”.

    There is little doubt that from hard experience Australian voters can see that both Scummo and Alex Hawke are unfit for public office ….. yet those respective electorates re-elected both politicians at the 2023 election despite their track record.

  6. wam

    The ability of xstians to hide behind the perceived social good of jesus lets purveyors become rich. The acceptance that faith transcends common sense and science is maintained by indoctrinating children and promulgating rules of no questions on beliefs. This secrecy has no place in politics and politicians should be able to be questioned on their beliefs.
    However you look at roe and wade or wade and roe. SCOTUS were sincere in their belief that abortion is murder and were xstianly arrogant in the imposition of that belief on every woman. They are appointed for life, so will impose their xstianity of every future decision. My big, gay, atheist, tassie green activist, sister refound god in her last years of life and left her house to the church. My little sister has 1200+ followers for her common sense comments on the LNP but has unshakeable faith in her lord. She sends me ‘proof’ of prayer, examples of god loving scientists and is working on why her abrahamic god is different from the god of muslims or jews. If you are old enough to remember the record attendance at the MCG, you will know the power of a well worked crowd. The singing hand clappers use the box to con those who are desperately in need of soul succour:
    https://www.sp2.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Strategies-Evangelical.pdf They are con artists with approved access to the minds of the socially insecure.
    ps If you want a head shaking breath taking religious experience with an accompanying photo: https://publicapologycentral.com/apologia-archive/religion/jimmy-swaggart/
    Who in their right mind could believe it???
    Sadly, like millions of septics, we are in line to follow SCOTUS.

  7. AC

    I’m in the odd position of my only friends are the only church going Christian families in the district.

    When i moved here, an Atheist with an activist history they were welcoming to me. I didn’t share my worldview for a couple of years, but when i did i was still accepted and cared for.

    To attend church is a rare thing these days. Apart from the family’s i know who attend the local churches, the attendees are all aged over 70 and mainly women, and number less than 20 in each of the 3 little churches locally. Anglican, Uniting, Catholic. No one likes to mention the crazies up the road – the world revival.

    As an Atheist with a sense of ethics, I’ve found so much in common with my Christian friends, even though their beliefs are basically against abortion, same sex marriage, voluntary euthanasia. Their children are protected from most of what goes on in the world and the older ones have become wonderful citizens, responsible, hard working, reliable, kind, true friends who’d have your back.

    But the push in Australia to have an over proportional representation of Christians into positions of power in parliament isn’t confined to the Liberal party. No. It’s throughout both Labor and Greens too. To imagine that a change of government will stem the Christian influence on our leadership is misguided. Christians take an active role getting into positions of power throughout every major political party and every level of government.

  8. Paul

    I agree : “So why not a commitment for all MPs to share their religious beliefs – or non-beliefs – with the voting public?”

    Perhaps that should begin here at AIMN, where the ‘Team’ of contributors should do likewise in their Biblios?

    As RosemaryJ36 says it isn’t just Christianity, in fact other religions are growing both in number and proportionally, and to date the media commentary has said virtually nothing about that topic, nor the specific growth areas. Indeed are these growth areas considered religions that are ‘moderates’? Some religions seem to support anarchic belief and behaviour, hence permitting more extreme departures from a religion that otherwise would be considered moderate.

  9. Michael Taylor

    The big difference, Paul, is that we here don’t make decisions that affect millions of lives.

    And for the record, I was baptised a Methodist (though I’m not what is called a “practicing Christian”). Nonetheless I practice what many might call “Christian values”: I’m kind to my neighbours, I’m kind to my family, I’m kind to strangers, I give people respect (even though some don’t deserve it), I do people no harm etc etc.

  10. RoadKillCafe

    We here at RoadKillCafe firmly believe all religions are a bullshit construct, designed and implemented by fat old white men and dark men and thin men, you get the drift, men. All in search of power, that seductive drug, power. Peasants need to be kept in their place, but the men are offered the consolation of being indoctrinated to believe woman, at best, are second class citizens. Win win all round, for men at least.

  11. Pingback: Opinion - AIMN: Enraged evangelists subvert Christianity - Plain Reason

  12. Michael Taylor

    I cannot recall who said this, something tells me it might have originated from Isaac Newton, but I’m not 100% sure:

    “God did not create man. Man created God.”

  13. Canguro

    Michael, one suggested author of that observation is Ludwig Feuerbach, the 19thC German anthropologist and philosopher, best known for his book The Essence of Christianity, which provided a critique of Christianity that strongly influenced generations. [Wiki].

  14. paul walter

    Yes, AC…REAL Xtians are worth their weight in gold.

    It is the devaluing of it for purposes inamicable to it, has many hostile, but one supposes no one is perfect and and who would point a finger first?

    I enjoyed all the comments, including wam who put thought into that comment. .But I still feel that the jury must remain out for lack of final definitive truth as to yea/nay. Best this person can offer is a timid and dishonest Pascal’s Wager. I am still alive and well, so if “God” is all that malicious, why am I still here since I am not always a nice person.

    No doubt it will all come out in the wash….

    Canguro’s comment and reference is timely.

  15. Douglas Pritchard

    Try finding a better business plan than one where the product is a total fiction.
    Frighten the bejusus out of all your customers.
    Demand a lifetime of respect, and monetary reward.
    And our government declares it s all tax free.

    No wonder there is so much knocking about?

  16. wam

    Agree michael,
    Right from the start, a male god created a man then manufactured a women from his creation.
    Any look at the church today and modern money garnering xstianity, will show it is by men for men and passed to kids through women. Most of the septic evangelist sects are so arrogant that they decided god bestows on boys, as they turn 12, the knowledge making all females subservient and must defer, even to their sons. For the rabbott and other poofter bashing xstian youth, condomless seed spreading was rife, presumably with protestant girls, keeping catholics virginal but I suspect, for his ilk, a root is a root. I am an epicurian. My little sister sent this: Since evil is not an inevitable result of free will, and free will was good to be given, God is in no way to blame for the evils committed by a free will. In addition, God cannot be blamed for not intervening to stop every instance of evil, for that would annihilate free will anyway. Since giving free will was a good thing, taking it away would be a bad thing, and since God cannot do bad things, He is neither “able nor willing” to prevent evil from free will. In addition, since God’s creation is perfect, the only evil must come from free will anyway. So if He is “neither able nor willing”, “Then why call him God?” He is all-good, and so if we freely choose to do evil, He will not stop us. He will justly punish us, but He will not prevent us. We call Him God because He is all-good and all-powerful, and the existence of evil does not contradict this. pps My dad’s sex talk at 15 was: Remember where you go in, a baby comes out.” That terrified me till marriage and made me asexual. But I was a perfect no threat go between. dealing with girls, for school and uni mates with puberty or rabbottry on their minds.

  17. paul walter

    Of course, wam. No one will ultimately know who or what God is /isn’t.

    Not this side of the grave and perhaps never..

  18. margcal

    Rather than have politicians and potential politicians state their religious persuasion, I would like to see a statement of their guiding principles and values. For some this will come from a religion but that should be elaborated on – as per the article, to state “Christianity” wouldn’t be good enough as there are so many versions of it.

    For those without religious belief, their principles and values must come from somewhere, so author, philosopher, etc

    And for both, one or two quotes from their preferred source would be a helpful guide.

    And we should call them out every time they go against their stated beliefs, principles, values. “Why is your policy on X the opposite of your stated beliefs?” is the sort of question well worth throwing into the mix. It’s not a bad start for showing up hypocrisy and it can go from there.

    I never understood why Howard and Abbott were not called out on their treatment of refugees, for example.
    Morrison’s church-sect affiliation was often referred to as the “prosperity gospel” but he himself was rarely, if ever, called out on any of his inhumane acts and directives – robodebt, refugees, etc.

  19. paul walter

    Margcal, it is a good idea, but you know they would only double down on their untruths.

    No flies , but if you watch the politicans, you see where the flies have been.

  20. Arnd

    Well?!? A “meh”- sort of an article by Brian Morris, followed by a fairly predictable sequence of mostly “meh”-sort of responses.

    What y’all fail to register is that the most important faith dominating the world today, and one shared by most all self-proclaimed practitioners of other faiths, including, sadly, Christianity, is the wholly superstitious, fervent and relentless veneration of The Almighty Dollar and The Holy Market.

    And, sorry, guys, it’s a duopoly. There is no Redeemer in that faith – which makes its enduring prevalence all the more astonishing.

    One Karl Marx did dissect and analyse it under the heading of “commodity fetishism”. But few people take much notice – including most bourgeois “atheists” that I know of.

  21. Brian Morris

    Arnd, you digress. Wealth and the “market” is a tiger of an entirely different stripe!

    The US Supreme Court justices who’ve just stripped away the “right of choice” from millions of women — though all very wealthy themselves, no doubt — were not motivated by Wall Street. They were driven by their fanatical belief in the archaic drivel of the Old Testament.

    Until the public at large, and particularly the mainstream media, start to recognise the social damage inflicted by extremist religious cults (like Pentecostalism, and others) then we’re doomed to slavishly follow the disastrous path now being trodden by America.

    We’re just had a Trump-like PM who’s ruined the economy and social cohesion. A second religiously driven government will irrevocably divide the country — and we’ll become the same type of a basket case, just like America day!

    So, as an atheist, and a socialist, there is ample evidence to show that the path to social cohesion and a strong economy, is to limit the influence of both militant evangelism and rampant capitalism. And there are many ways to do exactly that — but that’s a story for another day!

  22. Ben

    wam, good post. Ironic isn’t it that a preacher named ‘Swaggart’.
    I think is there a god, or is there just a synchronicity of nature that can be read as one.
    What would be an atheist’s take on this weeks event in Rome, home of gods spokesthing, the pope.
    #RomeIsBurning (Resistance news has the best video clip I noticed) #DEW

  23. Arnd

    Thanks, Brian.

    Wealth and the “market” is a tiger of an entirely different stripe!

    Yes and no! It is true to say that we in the Political West are free to subscribe to any version of spirituality or none. We can chose to be Christian, Muslim, buddhist, pagan, atheist …, and adopt the requisite rituals.

    Otoh, as for “commodity fetishism”, we have no choice. Commodity fetishism simply is what is, and cannot and must not be questioned – and in that it is much more similar to the dominant cults of yore: if you were a German, you worshipped Wotan and his coterie, if you were a Greek you worshipped Zeus, if you were Aztec, Quetzalcoatl, a Sumer, Baal, and so forth. In that sense, the spread of Christianity seems to have been the first instance prompting people to actually systematically examine the basis and justification of their more often than not very blood-thirsty ancestral beliefs.

    I think of commodity fetishism as the last remaining of these unexaminable superstitions – I have just ordered Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism, which I hope makes a contribution towards illuminating why Margaret Thatcher’s dictum “There is no alternative” still now, over 40 years later, holds as strongly as ever.

    Remove commodity fetishism from our contemporary discussions, socio-economic equations and policy processes (as I succeeded in doing 30 years ago, but so far only for my own benefit, or rather frustration), and you are left with practically nothing.

    Certainly the power and thrall that five reactionary judges exert over a nation of 350 million people would disappear without scarcely a trace.

    And even the importance of Australia’s 226 federal parliamentarians would diminish very significantly, in a “withering away of the state” sort of a way. Which, to me, is a far more promising goal than to institute complex and demanding procedures in an attempt to scrutinise in greatest detail the religious convictions and affiliations of individual politicians.

  24. Arnd

    Margcal,

    … I would like to see a statement of their guiding principles and values.

    Most of them aren’t all that backwards in coming forwards about what passes for their principles, and the more fringe, the more proudly they parade their delusions.

    A politician’s maiden speech could be used for the reference purposes you seek.

    But what do you do about someone like Scotty From Marketing, who gets himself televised on national evening news broadcasts impersonating religious rapture brought on by the practice of a faith that stipulates in no uncertain terms:

    [5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    [6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

    And that’s just the start. Take the unscriptural treatment he metes out to political refugees. Etc.

    As non-denominational and non-affiliated Christian, what am I supposed to do about such blatant, open and rank hypocrisy? All I can do is note that, apparently, this plays with a not insignificant part of the population, and since Australia is constituted as a secular electoral democracy, I have to roll with the outcomes of electoral processes.

    At any rate, I see little sense in trying to engage someone like Scotty in lengthy public exegetical disputes, even if I could. By the time people like him get to positions where they exercise political power, the damage is done.

    Besides, Scotty and his motley band of chancers violating so many secular principles and processes is a far more important issue.

  25. Brian Morris

    Thanks, Arnd. I’d like to chat more about CF, your own brand of Christianity, and the political process, but simply out of time for a couple of day — not skiving off! Could you drop me an email from http://www.plainreason.org and we can pick it up later?

  26. Arnd

    Brian,

    Sure. I’m happy to keep comparing notes. Even if intermittently – I, too, have a life and an actual day job to be getting on with. I’d be content enough to stay here on this thread, where others can follow and chime in.

    As for CF (commodity fetishism), the most charitable assessment that I can generate is to think of it in terms of operant conditioning in the Pavlovian sense: just as dogs learned to associate, and consequently salivate at, the tinkling of a bell with food, so we humans have conditioned ourselves – key word: self-domestication – to associate money with all things good and agreeable.

    But I do believe that things are somewhat more sinister than all that. I can recommend Warwick Smith’s award-winning philosophical reflections, published some six years ago in The Conversation: The perils of the last human: flaws in modern economics, as a lucid introduction of the issues that need further comprehensive review.

    As for assessing and updating our contemporary political – both parliamentary and legal – processes, I have convinced myself that we need to shift from a rights-based approach to a capabilities-based understanding. See Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum for academically credentialed, if practically problematic, further investigations of this subject area.

    Understanding Sen and Nussbaum may possibly be enhanced by referencing them against John Rawls’ academically influential Veil of Ignorance, as introduced in A Theory of Justice, and Robert Nozick’s antithetical companion manual Anarchy, State and Utopia.

    The above is a small sample of contributions to political philosophy that are acceptable in the circles of polite bourgeois academia. Once we permit ourselves to investigate further (promoted, in all likelihood, by the inconclusive nature of bourgeois reflections), we can introduce more radical and revolutionary material.

    And once we have charted the conceptual limits of such revolutionary ideations, we may finally take recourse to the Bible. There is, in other words, a little bit of ground to cover before we can authoritatively agree or disagree with one another.

    In the interim, I can offer a thumbnail of my views in my profile on The Conversation.

  27. paul walter

    I think Arnd was able to at least partly answer Brian’s comment.

    Capitalism is a cultural thing also. It is not just about Wall St issuing directives, iabheerent behaviours exist within the whole cultural millieu and to mention commodity fetishism need to also represent human commodification for an understanding of its actuality..

    https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/money/bills/vodafone-were-aggressive-and-hostile-george-monbiot-on-his-battle-with-firm-over-deceased-mothers-account-1739141?ico=most_popular

  28. Arnd

    Paul Walter,

    … and to mention commodity fetishism need to also represent human commodification for an understanding of its actuality..

    I remember the days when HR departments were still called “personnel department”. And I am not exactly the only or first person ever to observe that this shift in terminology has made the inhumanity of capitalism more express: resources, including human resources, is that which you deploy and use to realise ulterior aims. The means to achieve defined ends.

    Similarly, I cringe every time someone talks about employees as a company’s “most valuable assets”. “Oi!”, I feel like yelling out: “The days of chattel slavery are meant to be over!”

    Once you develop an eye for it, you can recognise the unexamined acceptance of, and submission to the precepts of commodity fetishism just about everywhere. I guess that its ubiquity is also the reason for the extraordinary intransigence of CF – remove it, and, in the words of Naomi Klein, “This Changes Everything”. Except that I am not sure that even Klein understands the magnitude of the changes that lie ahead.

    Come to think of it, neither do I. All I am certain of is that it is going to be huge. As to the details: I might be able to make a few tentative suggestions. Other than that, we’ll have to work out how to cross bridges as we come to them, and “We Build The Road As We Travel” … – which, incidentally, is the title of a book about the Mondragon Cooperatives in Basque country in Northern Spain, initiated by a Catholic priest – meaning that not all contributions to public life by people of faith are to be condemned equally!).

  29. Brian Morris

    Thanks Arnd, but you’re still well off the mark. Sorry for the delay but I did say I’d be away for a few days.

    Your reply is a bit “meh”, as you like to say. Try as you will, focusing on CF (commodity fetishism) will do nothing to influence the resurgent of militant evangelism or Christian Nationalism that seeks to dominate society — and that’s what my article was really about!

    CF is no more a state of the modern human condition than are lust, greed, wrath and rest of the 7 deadly sins. And your — “contributions to political philosophy that are acceptable in the circles of polite bourgeois academia” — will do nothing to stop our gradual drift to Christian theocracy. Just like America — their political and legal system is now in meltdown!

    The problem here requires practical social and political solutions, of which there are several, but the old adage still applies — society must be aware of the problem before there can be a lasting solution. Secularists and atheists, like me, keep chipping away, while a highly Christianised mainstream media maintains its veto on any comment deemed “anti-religious.”

    So, go ahead, dramatically change public opinion on commodity fetishism — and bring about the seismic shift in cultural awareness that you deem to be the root of all evil.

    Write an article for AIMN, and tell us all how the public perception of commodity fetishism can be changed to bring about a rebirth of society, and the advancement of humanity. Good luck with all of that!!!

  30. Arnd

    Hi Brian, no need to apologise, and I don’t expect you to explain yourself to me – it’s a free country (sort of). Also, I will gratefully accept any opportunity for dialogue and exchange of views, but if at any point you feel like bowing out, that’s fine, too.

    Try as you will, focusing on CF (commodity fetishism) will do nothing to influence the resurgent of militant evangelism …

    True! I do not, and do not intend to, confront the ideas, confusions and misguided convictions of belligerent militant evangelism head-on. The thrust of my reflections on CF is oblique, and deliberately so. In the first instance, I seek to identify and make visible the commercial and financial leverage that enables the “Christian” reaction to reach as far beyond its rightful remit as it presently does. And I do so in the hope that once identified, we who dissent from the aims of “Christian” reactionaries, will find ways to limit, restrain, and eventually perhaps remove altogether these mechanisms from greater social discourse.

    Or in other words: whereas you seek to discredit the political aims of the “Christian” reaction, I hold that, by and large, this is a fool’s errand: they are going to hold as decisively to their reactionary views as, for example, I hold to my revolutionary ones, or you hold to your secular a-theist ones, and never the twain shall meet.

    For a long time now, I have held that the pursuit of unanimous, or even only significant majority agreement, on any policy agenda is a political pipe dream, mostly advanced by those with a professional stake in the fanning of tribal policy division. What we should address, in my considered opinion, is not new and better ways of creating political unity, and of Manufacturing Consent (Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky), but the adjustment and review of the procedural means of giving expressing to at times wildly divergent views and convictions, with the aim better to accommodate them. What will require particular attention is the blatant gaming and abuse of established political and legal processes that enables “Christian” reactionaries to impose their views on others against their will.

    … their political and legal system is now in meltdown!

    Yeah, I know! What’s more, I saw it coming thirty years ago. The details are complex, but in a nutshell: after reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, it occurred to me to apply the insights into the mechanics of logic, algorithms, self-reference and incompleteness to political philosophy. (You can find a sample of my reasoning in the comments on your earlier The AIMN article Easter is rooted in A-theism.)

    I found this approach very fruitful. At precisely the time (the northern spring if 1992) that Francis Fukuyama published his (now in-)famous The End of History and the Last Man, I found occasion to convince myself that nothing was anywhere near as settled as mainstream thinkers and pundits were triumphantly falling over each other to assure everyone else, and that things were about to become really, really interesting once more. Which they did!

    One of the major reasons for that stems from the inescapable fact that the liberalism that (supposedly) informs western liberal democracy does necessarily have a value-free centre, an “all that is solid melts into air” (Communist Manifesto) type nihilistic core, that that is very disorienting and frightening to many people, and that contemporary political, social and commercial leaders, rather than carefully guiding the populace through this nihilist no-man’s land, feel invited and encouraged by this emerging anomie to do as they please.

    Evaluated against that backdrop, the head-on confrontational attack of the agenda of “Christian” reactionaries by secular progressives will not be successful, but will only serve further to harden their resolve, and add more oil and oxygen to their agenda.

    Christian progressives might have more of a chance, simply by holding “Christian” reactionaries to some of the basic tenets of the faith we supposedly share. But that, again, requires of Christian moderates and Christian progressives, a more radical understanding of their faith than they seem currently able to muster and express.

    At which point, my argument comes full circle (in a self-referential sort of a way!): a more radical understanding of the precepts of Christianity, at our precise point in history, depends on a comprehensive understanding and critique of commodity fetishism, and how capitalism is the institutionalised “love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10), and the futile attempt to “serve two masters” simultaneously (Matthew 6.24). (I quickly googled both verses. I really don’t know the bible well enough to quote it off the cuff!)

    As for your suggestion that I write am AIMN article: I did, and do, consider it. But the issues at hand are complex and interwoven with practically every other issue one may care to think of. Too far-reaching for stand-alone AIMN articles. A book is more appropriate – and after many false starts, due to the complexity of the issues, I am about 50,000 words into a first draft. Except the few people who have (tried to) read it three it back at me.

    I hope that Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism gives me a better handle on this intractable subject complex. In the meantime, I hope that extended dialogue might also enable a better understanding of thesin sticking points.

  31. Brian Morris

    Thanks, Arnd. Just a response, and an offer.

    You seek to “identify and make visible the commercial and financial leverage that enables the “Christian” reaction to reach as far beyond its rightful remit as it presently does”. I’m well aware of what that is!

    But an excellent idea, Arnd — focusing on your theory of Commodity Fetishism (CF), to help in that pursuit. That’s why I said you should write an article for AIMN and START a targetted conversation. My initial post has 5,000+ views but this comments page is now running out of steam, so you won’t get much public traction.

    You say I seek only, “to discredit the political aims of the “Christian” reaction” — but you miss the point, as that is always the FIRST step in gaining “public awareness”. Remember, through “group secular action”, we have achieved same-sex marriage, voluntary assisted dying, and the decriminalisation of abortion.

    Our aim is to further expose militant evangelists — now enraged by this same progressive legislation — and halt their push to strike down these new laws. Australia’s Christian Nationalists are just as emboldened as those in America (and in many other countries) who succeeded in having Roe vs Wade struck down. Read the link.

    The focus is NOT to change THEIR views, but to galvanise public and political action to neutralise the fundamentalists in their quest to roll back secular laws and to Christianise society. Read the link in my article about the 7 Mountains Mandate which alive and well in this country. It sounds nutty, I know, but it’s growing just as fast as Pentecostalism — promoted by Scotty from Marketing. He, and his cronies, are STILL in parliament.

    Indeed, we do endeavour to motivate “Christian progressives” to “enlighten” their enraged brethren. Note my link to an IPSOS poll which shows 78% of the Australian public want Church/State separation — and that figure includes millions of “Christian progressives”. So, the campaign is steadily advancing.
    I do support your “revolutionary” motivation to bring an understanding of Commodity Fetishism to the public, but as a former journalist I have to say — reading all your posts — you really should learn to write in a clear and concise way. You may impress some who have a philosophical bent, but the media and general public are quick to label books and articles as “psycho-babble and pseudo-intellectual bullshit” if the message is delivered with a superior tone, and in convoluted language.
    Start with a straightforward OVERVIEW, with a 1,000-word article for AIMN. It will focus your mind on the key points of your argument. No subject is too complex to be written as an overview — you don’t have to go into micro detail, that will come with the book. I’ve been in media and journalism for 40 years and I’m happy to act as a sounding board, if you wish to contact me again through my Plain Reason email.

    Signing out. Cheers . . . Brian

  32. Paul

    Arnd: In all actions that endeavour to bring about change in a population, there are those who are already keen supporters, the ‘Converted’ if you like, at the other extreme there those who will never change. Neither of these groups is worth expending effort; but those in-between are potential convertees. These are the people both extremes target. It most definitely is not a ‘fool’s errand’, in fact it is foolish not to use every persuasive tactic to move them towards your end of the continuum. The objective is to stop the hard core group getting larger, and to move the moderates and cultural christians towards humanism. The census indicates that there has been momentum in that direction, but, the risk of that being reversed due to the USA influence, cannot be ignored.

  33. Arnd

    Paul: you may well be correct in saying that political discourse is often dominated by very vocal advocates from either end of the spectrum trying to sway an uncommitted and hesitant middle. The political theorist Chantal Mouffe has developed a whole new model for political discourse under the heading of “Agonism”.

    Call me “deluded”, if you want, but I am sticking with “Deliberative democracy” for the time being. Heated public yelling matches, ruthless denigration of opponents, complete and purposeful disregard for the basic principle of philosophical charity, and the wilful deconstruction of constitutional democracy into populist majoritarian tyranny is not where I’m at.

    And I am convinced that any political agenda instituted with such means will bear the marks of its provenance. No good can come of it, despite some short-term appearances to the contrary.

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