Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Justice Sunday: The Second Coming

Apparently once wasn’t enough. The Family Research Council is poised for its second Justice Sunday telecast. This time around, Tom Delay is stepping into the picture. Via the NYTs:

Mr. DeLay's planned appearance adds the imprimatur of a top Republican elected official to the event, which seeks to call attention to what its organizers say is the Supreme Court's hostility to Christianity and traditional families in its decisions about abortion, homosexuality and government support for religion. It will be broadcast to churches and Christian television stations and distributed as a video.

Unlike the first Justice Sunday event, which generally addressed the Religious Right’s desire to see more of their ilk appointed to federal courts, Justice Sunday II has a specific aim.

The event is part of a broader campaign by prominent Christian conservatives to mobilize churchgoers for Judge Roberts's confirmation and other battles over the courts, battles that many see as the climax of a 30-year culture war.

The term "culture war" as it appears in the NYTs article is not a direct quotation from a Justice Sunday organizer, but it is an apt description of the Religious Right’s mentality these days. And just like the crusaders of the past, the Religious Right’s leaders are calling upon a higher power.

In a televised prayer on Tuesday for Judge Roberts's confirmation, for example, the television evangelist Pat Robertson asked his viewers to pray: "Take control, Lord! We ask for additional vacancies on the court."

In Civilization and its Discontents, Freud suggests that religion offers people the opportunity to surrender their personal neuroses in favor of a social neurosis. His assessment has never seemed so right. The Justice Sunday mob is in the throes of a paranoid delusion, playing out a Biblical fantasy in which they’ve cast themselves as God’s army, assaulted on all fronts by heathen, liberal forces. Honestly, how else can members of the country’s majority religion consider themselves such abused victims? The overblown rhetoric about attacks on Christian values is funny for a while, but when the humor wears off, we’re stuck with a difficult situation. How do you engage a group of people who believe that they’re doing God’s will and that everyone who opposes them is violating divine law? I’d love some suggestions.

--Matthew McCoy