The Christian Terrorist Two Step—how mainstream christianists play footsie with terrorists

Well, well, well it looks like Christian terrorism is spiking again, drummed up by “mainstream” politicians, the right wing media, hate talk shows, Christian churches and the usual fomentors of hate. It reminds me of how the “normal” and “academic” Christianists have supported terrorism throughout US history. It’s always been a kind of “good cop, bad cop” thing where the supposedly respectable Christianists just warn us that the consequences of race mixing, feminism, homosexuality, Islam, or whatever are dire, and then they smugly declare victory when Christian terrorists strike—whether it is the KKK or Operation Rescue.

I came to really loathe Richard A (Pete) Peterson. He totally fucked me. We got a small grant and he extorted me into writing a monograph (for which I was given second authorship, even though I wrote 90% of the manuscript), and then he cut me out of an article that wound up in ASR. I was broke and pre-tenure, and there was nothing I could do but just take it in the ass. After and during that, I pretty much hated Pete. But, in the middle of all of that, looking back, Pete was right about one thing—Little James Davidson Hunter was nothing but a right wing tool, and worse, he was an apologist for Christian terrorists.

“Before the Shooting Begins….” Yeah. The shooting had already begun. And, he’s blaming it on the “conflict” between “orthodoxy’ (that would be the people he considers in the right) and whatever the fuck he called normal people, I don’t care to remember. He should be forgotten by serious scholars. Hunter was the second wave of conservative Christians infecting higher education, and he used his position to normalize Christian terrorism. Making it seem to be a product of “both sides” instead of a problem of Christian fundamentalism.

Pete completely saw through that. I didn’t. I was wrong. Larry Griffin and I argued strongly to make Hunter an offer, and we succeeded–over Pete’s very strenuous objections. Thankfully, Hunter was just fucking with Vanderbilt and stayed at Virginia, where all losers go to die. I was wrong, Pete, there you go…

Hunter isn’t the latest, we have jokers like Christian Smith talking about “battling” and “emboldened” sectarian Protestants. They aren’t doing anything wrong, of course, they’re battling because of those nasty mean secular people who deserve to be mowed down with semi-automatic weapons for making good Christians tolerate laws about abortion, birth control, and discrimination against racial, religious, and sexual minorities.

It’s the right wing two step. The “respectable” right wingers hint that their minions may rise up and start shooting people and are in a literal battle or war with the evils of communism, secularism, feminism, Islam, or whatever the bogeyman of the moment is.  Then, on cue, the minions start killing people. From the KKK to the Minutemen to the 3%’s to the Oathkeepers……Christian terrorists are a product of the apologetics produced by people like Hunter and Smith. It’s like the White Citizen’s Councils playing “good cop” to the KKK “bad cop” during the African American civil rights movement in the US. They want to normalize and rationalize terrorism coming from religious nutjobs by saying that white Christian religion is more valuable than anything else, and that we should not just expect but also accept assaults on people who denigrate their version of religion.

Pete was right. Fuck these guys.




2 Responses to “The Christian Terrorist Two Step—how mainstream christianists play footsie with terrorists”

  1. jim green Says:

    Before the “liberal press” latched onto his culture war propaganda and he had to pretend to be a moderate, objective academic, Hunter wasn’t above jumping into bed with Jerry Falwell in his crusade to introduce christianist revisionism into public school textbooks in the mid-80s. Hunter was Falwell’s “expert witness” on the evils of secular humanism and how the godless liberals were indoctrinating good christian children through public schools. Here is a excerpt from a PRA report:

    “What happened is a classic example of how the allegation breaks down in the light of factual challenges. Robertson’s legal team hired University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter to evaluate the disputed texts and to serve as an expert witness to testify that secular humanism was not only a religion, but that it was somehow advanced by the school books. Hunter testified, “the material is presented in such a way that it is consistent with the tenets of secular humanism.” He also said that his studies had “persuaded me that a secular humanism of a sort is a dominant ideology of public school textbooks, at least the ones reviewed.” Because some of the texts omitted certain historical references to religion in American history, Hunter argued that the “secularization of public life generally, and education specifically is epitomized by the omission of certain references to religion.”

    “Is it a tenet of secular humanism,” Hunter was asked on cross examination, “that history be portrayed inaccurately?” Hunter had to not only acknowledge that it was not but that he had in fact found no passages in the elementary school social studies books he had reviewed that were “consistent with secular humanism,” rather that the books “advance a secularistic view of the world. Not a humanistic, but a secularistic.”

    Federal District Court Judge Brevard Hand’s ruling that the Mobile school board had unconstitutionally established secular humanism as a religion nevertheless relied heavily on Hunter’s testimony. However, the appellate court promptly overturned Hand. “We do not believe,” the appellate court wrote in reversing the decision, “that an objective observer could conclude from the mere omission of certain historical facts regarding religion or the absence of a more thorough discussion of the role of its place in modern American society that the State of Alabama was conveying a message of approval of the religion of secular humanism.”

    Hunter was also a homophobe who parrotted the “special rights” bullshit meme during the early 90s and gave it semi-respectability. Smugly preaching from his ridiculous precious perch at UVA’s in house right wing think tank “Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture” (they love these grandiose names!) Hunter’s “analysis” of the anti-gay state referendum battle in Oregon was a masterpiece of blaming both sides for engaging in extremism but a close reading shows that Hunter really thinks it is those dirty queers who were so nasty to the poor christians (Scott Lively of Kill the Gays Uganda was a major player organizing those innocent christians so yea the evil Nazi gays are the bad guys). Here is Hunter’s justification for the use of the “special rights” BS:

    “Whatever else gay rights are, they are, at the very least, a
    measure of formal recognition within the prevailing
    social order. In this way, gay rights confer an official and
    lawful acceptance upon those who define themselves
    socially and politically through their sexual orientation
    and behavior. Even more, of course, gay rights represent
    the power and patronage of the state. The subtext of this
    controversy, then, was the bitter battle over political and
    moral legitimacy. One side wanted it desperately; the
    other side was loath to give it.”

    Those words could have been spoken by a racist southern segregationists about Civil Rights legislation in the 60s.

  2. sherkat Says:

    You know me. I was stupid. Pete brought up Hunter’s testimony in the faculty meeting. Larry and I dismissed it as a “durkheimian” extension of the nature of religion that is common in sociological theory. We were wrong. He wasn’t just parroting Bellah’s ridiculous civil religion, he as making an argument to try to enable creationists and undermine public education.

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