Goldwater was right about the Christians in the Republican Party

I’m a liberal, but I often find common ground with conservatives. I often find that both sides can make sense on the same topic, with similar solutions. I really don’t believe that politics is binary. I believe that politics is about finding common ground and negotiating from there.

So when I see how Republicans in Congress left so many courts without a judge during Obama’s tenure, how they refused to even hold hearings for federal and Supreme Court judges, I see just how extreme they have become.

It’s also worth noting that for much of American history, Christians have had a supermajority in Congress. Even as recently as a few years ago, Congress was about 92% Christian. And with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, their intentions are clear: to make America a Christian nation. This is extremism on the part of Christians in government, was noticed long ago by Barry Goldwater, in a famous quote by him:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” — November, 1994, quoted by John Dean in his book, Conservatives Without Conscience.

Goldwater saw it coming so long ago. The refusal to hold hearings on judges, the government shutdowns, the attacks on the welfare state, the bakers who won’t bake a cake for a gay couple, Hobby Lobby and their refusal to honor health insurance with a provision for contraception, all of it, is extremism, backed by a professed conviction in a god.

I don’t harbor any grudge against Christians. I am as happy to see them practice their religion as much as my wife has a Buddha on display in our home. I have Mormon neighbors, neighbors I happen to love spending time with when we can all take a break from our busy lives. I just have a problem when members of any religion decides that their god is superior to everyone else, and that I must be like them, think like them, believe as they do, or else. Or else, what?

I have had Christians tell me that I’m going to Hell if I don’t believe as they do. Happily, none of my Mormon friends have ever told me that. In the past, I have seen Christians bombing abortion clinics in the news. I have seen Christians in Congress cut budgets for health care, and declare war, while claiming that life is precious. I have seen stories of city councils refusing Muslim and Buddhist prayers in favor of Christian prayer. I have read of Trump’s arrogance in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. All of that, in my opinion, is in violation of the 1st Amendment, and it is evidence of a refusal to compromise.

This refusal to compromise that Goldwater saw in his Christian fellows in Congress, and in the Republican Party, is why I’m now a Democrat. I’m actually an independent, but I want to put the Republicans on notice that no longer will I stand by and watch them run a scorched earth political campaign, all in the name of their god.

I have never read the bible all the way through. I will admit that. But I have read enough to know that Jesus said, “Follow me.” He did not say, “Take up high office and compel other people to follow me.” He did not say, “Compel your friends and family to follow me with fear of what will happen if they do not follow me.” He did not say, “Build a downline in God’s MLM for extra points when you go to heaven.”

But here we are now, with a “conservative” majority on the Supreme Court. Here we are with a “conservative” majority in the Senate, ready to confirm as many staunchly conservative judges in federal and appellate courts as they can, filling all the seats they refused to fill for Obama. Are they doing all of this in God’s name? Only God knows. Are they doing this in the name of a man who said, “Follow me”? Doesn’t seem like it.

Aren’t the courts supposed to be non-partisan? Unbiased? Neutral, even? How about independent of the other branches of government? How about independent of any religion?

If you’re Christian, good for you. I want you to be able to practice your religion just as much as I want to not be religious. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Unitarian, or whatever. None of that matters to me. What matters to me is how you treat me. What also matters to me is if you decide to take up arms to promote your religion above all others, as an elected representative in a government that is supposed to serve all of us.

You cannot have peace if you are not willing to compromise. I know. We all know that at some point or another, we must compromise with other people to get along. There are no exceptions. Happiness isn’t getting everything you want. Happiness is knowing what to do when you don’t, and usually, that means you compromise.

Write on.

Written by

Husband, father, worker, philosopher, and observer. Plumbing the depths of consciousness to find the spring of happiness. Write on.

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