Religion, in general, and the actions of the religious right in particular have drawn my ire lately, as you can probably tell from my last few posts. If there's one thing that drives me up a wall, it's people who are hypocritical, and the religious right has been the human incarnation of hypocrisy in the past few years. The conventional wisdom has been that the religious right is increasing in power, both socially and politically, but any increase in influence or political power is being mitigated by good, old-fashioned common sense. The fact remains that, thankfully, most Americans are not Bible-beating, fag-hating, self-righteous creeps.
From the media's portrayal of the Terri Schaivo controversy, you would think that the entire country is reading the Left Behind books and tuning in to watch Pat Robertson be racially insensitive on the 700 Club. Fortunately, one look at poll numbers from a variety of different opinion polls (link here) makes it apparent that the majority of Americans do not feel Schaivo should be kept alive. If you examine how the media portrays the public's reaction to removal of Schaivo's feeding tube, you get the wrong idea: that the religious right is a political force to be reckoned with. The majority of Americans may be less vocal, but they're certainly not less important.
People often cite President Bush's recent triumph in November's Presidential Election as proof that the religious right has a place at the political table. While conservative Christians in this country undoubtedly favor the President, despite the discordant relationship between his actions and their dogma, their support of the President has done little to nothing to move their agenda to the forefront. Political power is defined as the ability of a group of people to use politicians to promote a political agenda. Politicians using your political agenda to garner political support, and then only applying it when it's politically advantageous, as President Bush has done repeatedly, is the very definition of gullible.
The Religious Right Wing in this country have become political whores. Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage? Nada. Abortion ban? Not even on the agenda. They haven't even been able to put Creationism in public school classrooms. Religious conservatives voted for President Bush to represent their views, and fortunately for those of us who prefer church and state to remain separate enterprises, the one good thing the President has done during his time in office despite a lot of talk about God, is to keep the secular status quo intact.
Religious conservatives and the mainstream media perceive that there has been a shift in political power. Reality shows us that the Republicans have done a fabulous job of saying their prayers, making spirited arguments on issues popular among Christians, and doing it often enough to hide the fact that they haven't acted on a single item of the Christian Conservative Agenda. Such pomp and circumstance is not real political power. It's selling your soul to the devil for notoriety and attention, regardless of the outcome. I'm sure Jesus is quite proud. How many times do you have to be born again to make up for this?