Straight to Hell

elizabeth edwards

Elizabeth Edwards

What is it about “death with dignity” that Christian fascists don’t understand? Recently the ultra right wing crackpot at the blog American Power came out swinging against dearly departed Satanist Elizabeth Edwards. Apparently the ailing Edwards wasn’t clear about her submission to God in her deathbed message to family and friends.

In a final Facebook posting before her death on December 7th Edwards said that she was sustained in life by “three saving graces—my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope.” Blasting her “nihilism” Power wrote that “Edward’s non-theological theology gets props from the neo-communists.”

Of course, “neo-communists” are the ones that molest children and cover it up, bash gays, commit acts of domestic terrorism, and loot millions from poor people on Sundays in the name of…atheism. Not content with the patriotic tradition of burning blasphemers at the stake, now Christian fascism demands that an individual’s own reckoning with death be policed in the cutthroat blogosphere. But the bashing of Edwards is just a footnote to the larger trend of right wing demonization of secular and left forces reignited by the Tea Party. This trend builds on Cold War “better-dead-than-Red” hysteria equating patriotism and “authentic” American citizenship with being god-fearing. In this universe, communism, totalitarianism, and atheism are the same anti-American McCarthyist mish mash all over again.

Good patriots can never be atheists. Not even football playing alpha males like Pat Tillman, the soldier and atheist whose “friendly fire” death was infamously covered up by the U.S. Army. Tillman made the grievous error of being a dirty infidel and a critic of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East. During a September interview on the Bill Maher show, Tillman’s brother Richard blasted folk who’d given his family religious blessings and bromides about Pat going to heaven.

Jerry Falwell

Jerry Falwell

Non-believers, skeptics, and humanists have always been conflicted about declarations of how the (“virtuous”) dead will be speedily dispatched to heaven. Ultimately, the so-and-so is going to heaven or being called “home” claptrap is a lazy way of legitimizing the brutality and finality of death. It is a craven deferral of the hard questions about how chance, circumstance, and randomness inform living in the rude, crude, unjust, savagely precarious wilderness of planet Earth.

Wandering through the savage god-fearing wilds of evangelical America in his book Republican Gomorrah, journalist Max Blumenthal recounts how James Dobson, psychiatrist and oracle of the Religious Right, courted serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy for a Death Row conversion. According to Blumenthal, Bundy’s leap onto the Jesus train was a crowning achievement for Dobson — a man whose greatest Christian therapy was beating the crap out of misbehaving children. Dobson’s obsession with corporal punishment and zero tolerance child-rearing methods is part of a continuum in the near epidemic of pedophilia, sexual abuse, marital infidelity, and domestic violence that “upstanding” male Christian and Catholic leaders have been embroiled in.

James Dobson

James Dobson

While all of these behaviors are about violence, power, and heterosexist social control, if you have the power to define, police, and control the boundaries between self and other then your crimes aren’t really transgressions but distorted entitlements. The transgressions of male offenders can be magically purged by repentance to a forgiving Jesus. Jesus after all, is one of them; tough, hard, manly or, as Blumenthal notes, “a stern, overtly masculine patriarch charging into the fray with his sword raised against secular foes.” As long as the high profile male offender is literally and figuratively on top, and goes through the proper channels to repent, moral order is restored.

While heaven is overpopulated and over-mortgaged, hell’s cultural capital has declined somewhat. Public or graveside damnations of evildoers to a robust churning hell are less profitable these days. In an era of pseudo-scientific religious cosmology evocations of hell seem to have lost their purchase with all but the most florid fundamentalists. In an open homage to hell, Jerry Falwell famously declared the 9/11 terrorist attacks God’s revenge on a spiritually corrupt U.S. overrun by moral degenerates like gays, lesbians, and feminists/abortionists. Now, a smugger Christian fascism, far more insidious than the televangelist performance art of Falwell and Pat Robertson has prevailed. The fall of the former Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism has bolstered a kind of Christian fascist triumphalism that is not just hell bent on imperial domination but on Orwellian thought policing.

sikivu hutchinsonThe mainstream view that the U.S. is a Christian nation founded on Christian principles reflects Middle American ethnocentrism about the synonymity of democracy and Christianity. And since nationhood and religious belief are still so closely intertwined in the fevered American psyche, even spiritual “equivocators” like Elizabeth Edwards are fair game. As for us unrepentant atheists, we can make room in hell.

Sikivu Hutchinson

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of and the author of the forthcoming Moral Combat: Black Atheists, Gender Politics and Secular America.

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  1. Bill Gibbons says

    There are spritiual nazis everywhere. As for the Crusades, inquisition, Indians schools and pedophile priests, there is only one church to blame for these thing and that is Roman Catholisism. The church of Rome persecuted Christian groups and communities that resisted their authority, which they had no right to impose anyway. Not all priests are closet homosexuals and not all catholics are bad, but to blame Christianity wholesale for these outrages is like blaming all Muslims for the 9/11 attacks.

    As far as leadership from the White House is concerned, the US has had a bum rap in the past two decades. You had good old Slick Willy who couldn’t keep his pants on and did nothing to counter the growing radical Islamo-fascism in the Middle East, George W. Bush who got you into a decade long war in two countries that has cost billions, and a socialist law professor who was nurtured and befriended by radical black power preachers, white self-hating Marxists and a domestic terrorist called Bill Ayers.

    As for gay rights, since when did deconstructing marriage simply to accommodate a minority lifestyle become a “right?” When we stop talking about gay “rights” and start talking about homosexual privilege, then we are getting closer to the truth.

    Just how much worse can it get?

  2. says

    Everyone needs to understand just what is happening in America and all over the world.

    There is a movement of extreme right wing Christian Nationalists (no matter what country) with an agenda to take over the governments of all the world and install Christian theocracy. This branch of Christianity believes that they are mandated to do this so that Christ will come and set up his kingdom on earth.

    Everyone needs to get a clear understanding of these people.

    Look up on Google: Dominionism, Reconstructionism, Kingdom Now, and each site will lead you to further studies on this. What we are seeing in the T-party movement with people like Miller in Alaska and Angle in NV Sarah Palin etc are the front men and women working to gain positions in government. Their agenda is to destroy our Constitution and government as it is.

    They are working to destroy the citizen’s respect for the government, our schools, our President and anyone that doesn’t follow lock step with them.

  3. Lynn says

    Sikivu is not talking about Islamic fundamentalism in this article. We are very well aware that Islamic fundamentalists are hell bent on world domination and lack any concept of grace. Religious tyranny, however, has not been relegated to only Islam. Christianity certainly has not been exempt from this reality, think, inquisition, think Indian schools in the 1800’s and 1900’s.

    We understand that Islamic fundamentalists hate the West. But this is not what the article is about! Christian fundamentalists also wield a great deal of power in this country and, while you say that a gay rights parade in Tehran is not going to happen, I have read many religious opinions from the right that decry the ability of gays to have a parade, adopt children or be allowed to walk the streets because they consider gays an “abomination.” Some still think that sodomy laws should not be repealed. We have a right to walk in freedom, but this is not because of the church’s influence. Basically what some are saying is..well..Christianity is the least of your worries…the Islamo-fascists are worse. As a Christian, I say, “SO WHAT!” Christianity is SUPPOSED to be a better option than the other religions. We don’t need to compete…the Son of Man is the Son of God regardless and He doesn’t need us to be bashing each other to show the world that He is. We are supposed to be better than this.

  4. Bill Gibbons says

    “Christians are not harmless, and the right wing conservative Christians love nothing more than to gang up on women and children. They are pro-life at the expense of women and children. They like to push dead people around, too (Check out some of the comments about Ted Kennedy, not very Christian and not very harmless). They need to put the Christ back in Christian.”

    You Yanks are a scream. You demonize Christian “fascists” while ignoring the greater threat of Islamic fundamentalism in your own country. And Pam, I doubt if you will ever have to worry about Baptist suicide bombers or Lutheran insurgents anytime soon.

    As for gay rights, if you want to know what bigotry really is all about, then go have the next gay pride parade in Tehran or Mecca. Be grateful that in the USA, you still have the right to live in freedom. Christians are the least of your concerns.

  5. Lynn says

    Give me a break, George…what a ridiculous and vitriolic counter-argument of your own. We KNOW that fundamental Muslims would take away a woman’s rights in a nano second..we KNOW that this is not a good thing…but it is a non-sequitor. To say that one cannot say anything about Christians because…darn it..those Mooslems would surely take away your rights is too sophmoric to even comment on. To say that she is “railing neurotically” at our harmless tolerant Christians makes me wonder if you even read the article; your argument is obtuse to say the least. She is not railing at “small potatoes”..she is railing against very influential Christians, some, including Dobson, who have the ears of politicians ..and they are not soft targets in the least.

    I read many many comments in Fox News about Elizabeth following her death and noted how many so-called Christians criticized her for not talking enough about her faith on her DEATHBED, and several sent her to hell, as well…how is this in the least bit Christ-like? And how would your own indignant argument ever lead someone like Sikivu to see the love of God?

    Comparing Christianity to fundamental Islam is a specious argument…Christianity is not ever supposed to look like Islam, but I know several “pre-medieval” Christians myself who would be more than willing to subjugate women and keep a woman in her God-given place. I, myself, have been criticized for not using “evangelical-enough” speech when, in fact, this is simply not part of my up-bringing as a Lutheran pastor’s daughter. I have been told, numerous times, that my baptism didn’t count…because I was not immersed. I can totally see what Sikivu sees when she hears some Christians speak…she isn’t exactly seeing the Body of Christ alive in their divisive speech.

  6. Pam says

    Christians are not harmless, and the right wing conservative Christians love nothing more than to gang up on women and children. They are pro-life at the expense of women and children. They like to push dead people around, too (Check out some of the comments about Ted Kennedy, not very Christian and not very harmless). They need to put the Christ back in Christian.

    • says

      The white consevative christian male dosen’t care about you after you leave the womb. They perk up once you reach military age. Then you are just what they are looking for. Conservatives want live babies so they can raise them to become dead sholdiers. Ah, the insite of George Carlin. I miss him.

  7. George A. Crackuh says

    Wow! Sikivu pours out so much seething resentment, unforgiving anger and nastiness onto the page! It’s painful to read such vitriol. Over and over, you blast away with your sneering, sarcastic, hate-filled words at all Christians, and what a soft and tolerant target they are, indeed.

    It requires no moral courage to gin up cheap outrage over these small potatoes, a few imperfect but well-known Christians who indeed voice their sometimes foolish opinions, but actually force nothing onto anyone.

    The real fundamentalists, the true fascists, are the pre-medieval Muslims around the world who are actively intent on subjugating Sikivu and putting her in a burkha, and taking away her freedom to be a black feminist. They will be quite happy to beat her and mutilate her and stone her, to take away her computer, her driver’s license and her passport, to force her into complete and abject submission, and whatever else their monstrous Sharia law calls for.

    But here in this country, the Christians simply have the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments. I would hope that even as an atheist, Sikivu would see the universal goodness and rightness of following such wholesome guidelines for living a free and moral life.

    Get a clue, Sikivu. Quit railing neurotically at our harmless, tolerant Christians. You are acting like an old general fighting the last war, and you don’t see the mortal danger that is advancing upon you even now.

    • says

      I AM a Christian, and would not consider some of my fellow believers a ‘tolerant’ target. In the 1970s the Christian fundamentalists in California moved to deny gay (and pro-gay) teachers the right to teach in public schools. The issue (as could be seen from the inclusion of pro-gay teachers among the targets) was not child endangerment, but the idea that children, some of whom were homosexual, would somehow get the idea that homosexuality is not some horrid perversion.
      I eventually allowed my subscriptions to Human Events and Chalcedon lapse, but read enough to find segments of the fundamentalist Christian populace frightening.

      Far too much of Conservative/Evangelical Christian America is characterized by victimist triumphalism, and far too little reflects the 10 commandments, the 2 great commandments (all from Torah), or the Golden Rule.

      Be Well,
      Bob Griffin

    • says

      Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man… living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisable man has a list of ten things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning, fire, smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, burn, and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money. So says the reverand George Carlin who is still laughing at us.

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