During the Civil War a number of Protestant denominations divided into northern and southern entities — such as the Southern Baptists originally founded in 1845. The Southern Baptists have remained conservatives on most issues. They are the largest U.S. Protestant body with some 16 million members and 42,000 churches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southern_Baptist_Convention

Last night in an interview with an expert on the Christian right, Rachel Maddow reported:

“Public Policy Polling released results from its new poll of residents of the great state of New Jersey. The poll found that 18 percent of New Jersey conservatives say they are sure that President Obama is the anti-Christ. No questions asked. Another 17 percent of New Jersey self-identified conservatives say they just aren‘t sure, but they‘re not willing to rule it out.”

http://www.alternet.org/blogs/politics/142730/rachel_maddow%3A_why_do_1_3_of_new_jersey_conservatives_think_obama_might_be_the_anti-christ

In the late 1950s I spent 3 years earning a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in NYC where I recall one of my noted teachers, Reinhold Niebuhr, warning us that Protestantism was moving away from its concerns with social justice and care for the poor towards conservative interests having nothing to do with the Gospels or Jesus of Nazareth. In so many words my teachers warned us of what was coming which sent me out of organized religion and into a career in social/political/legal philosophy where I could be sure that I would find and could teach basic social justice values to my students.

More and more I have watched the right wing religionists taking over previously balanced institutions such as the Republican Party and using religion as the primary authority for their attacks on people and the institutions of liberal democracy which had made the U.S. a model to be emulated and a place to migrate if one could gain entry and escape from tyrannies elsewhere.

I am startled to learn from Rachel’s statistical report that a northern state, too, is threatened by increased numbers of residents who believe that our president may be a disciple of the devil rather than a reformer. Sarah Palin, I suppose, is a prime instance of this right wing perversion of Christianity which she has claimed as her authority for all sorts of self-seeking nonsense.

Where this will all end I do not know. But I am saddened to see Protestantism being perverted by anti Christian activists. Established Protestant churches are fighting hard for survival against these heretics — witness the massive stadium operations that promise personal wealth in return for belief in them — and generous donations to same.

Incidentally, this perversion of American religion is noted around the globe as yet another instance of the hypocrisy of our claim to be the model form of government for others to emulate.

What do you think?

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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