The Cornell Center for Religion, Ethics, and Social Policy (CRESP) declared war on God this week, sponsoring a symposium to warn students about the scary influence of the Religious Right in American politics. Curiously, not a single member of the Religious Right was invited to participate in the event. After all, what would a member of the Religious Right know about the Religious Right?
CRESP apparently decided that the presence of an equal number of religious conservatives would ruin the affair’s cozy, echo chamber-like atmosphere. In fact, when one conservative-leaning professor simply defended the role of Christianity in shaping public policy, Prof. Isaac Kramnick — known far and wide for his deep understanding of and respect for Christian theology — called the professor’s comments “contentious.” Welcome to the Ivy League, fair and balanced.
The academy is supposed to be a place where there is free and open inquiry, where questions are explored and students are taught to think for themselves. But CRESP has no interest in educating people or presenting a balanced view of the role of religious conservatives in politics. They have already decided devout Christians are evil. Their latest project is designed to indoctrinate students with hateful, anti-Christian propaganda.
TheocracyWatch, a division of CRESP co-sponsoring Cornell’s anti-God week, has made its loony intentions clear. In an interview with the Cornell Daily Sun, Kathleen Damiani, the president of TheocracyWatch, announced that the purpose of the symposium is “to spread the word about the complete restructuring of our government” and “to get the word out to as many people as possible because the agenda of the Christian right is to replace the Constitution with biblical law.” Ms. Damiani’s statement provides powerful evidence that she was recently abducted in a black helicopter piloted by Lyndon LaRouche.
The truth is that there is no organized “Christian Right” in America. The organization most associated with the Religious Right, the Christian Coalition, has seen its membership and political clout decline significantly since Ralph Reed departed as the organization’s Executive Director. The New York Times reported that the group experienced a 50% decline in membership from 1994 to 2001. And the man most liberals associate with leading the Religious Right, Pat Robertson, is a political moderate. He opposes the death penalty, opposed the impeachment of Bill Clinton, and supported the pro-abortion gubernatorial candidacy of Arnold Schwartzenegger. The guy is labeled an extreme right-winger because he hosts a religious television show and believes that the Bible is the literal Word of God.
So, if the Christian Right is not led by Pat Robertson or defined by the Christian Coalition, who comprises this organized cabal that is going to “replace the Constitution with biblical law”? Joan Bokaer, the director of TheocracyWatch, claims that the Christian Right is “a small group of Republican strategists” who work via “stealth” to “control the agenda of both houses in Congress.” She noted that George W. Bush was a good example of a “stealth candidate.” How a Republican candidate for president managed to “stealthily” slip by 300 million Americans and wind up in the Oval Office is still anyone’s guess. Maybe he took a “stealth” pill and became invisible.
Given that this is a constitutional republic, the American people might have something to say about whom is elected to the Congress and the presidency. If the amorphous “stealth” Christian Right controls everything, the American people must be fans of at least some portion of their agenda since the voters have elected Republicans to control Congress since 1994, and have elected Republican presidents to serve in 16 of the last 24 years. At some point, you would think those idiot voters would have noticed conservatives’ imposing mandatory participation in the Eucharist or their placing a mound of salt resembling Lot’s wife on the outskirts of San Francisco. Or maybe the millions of people who voted for Bush and the Republican Congress were “stealth” voters, cagily appearing in and disappearing from voting booths in nearly every county across the country.
Ann Coulter ’85 presented a compelling argument to explain liberal insanity over the Religious Right in her 2002 bestseller Slander. She asserted that liberals invented the idea of a Religious Right as a scapegoat, an “Orwellian totemic symbol for people to hate...a permanent terrorizing influence on the brainwashed masses.” She concluded that when liberals in the mainstream media mention the Religious Right, they are either referring to “one man” (Pat Robertson) or “anyone who believes in a higher being and wants his taxes cut” (half of America).
All we are sure of is that liberals really hate the Religious Right. Whether they can actually define this mass “stealth” movement is irrelevant to them; what is important is that they defeat these wild-eyed Bible thumpers before they pray again! And, if there’s time on the clock, maybe knock around a few Jews and Catholics too.
Cornell had a golden opportunity to present a balanced view of the role of Christians in American politics. We could have had long panel discussions on how the notion that our liberties come from God, not the state — our Constitution’s central principle — is rooted in Christian doctrine. We could have discussed how the concept of religious freedom descends from the Christian tenets of free will and voluntary surrender to God. We could have discussed Christians’ role in the abolition movement, Prohibition, the civil rights movement, the pro-life movement, and the gay marriage controversy. But instead, the university decided to present a one-sided, far-leftist, hysterical, extremist, vile screed against religious conservatives. Leftist academics have created an Orwellian nightmare on campus, repeating “The Religious Right is evil!” over and over and over again, until all students submit.
The most telling comment of the entire Cornell conference came from liberal Prof. R.L. Moore, History, who, after his participation on a panel, stated, “I enjoy these sorts of things, [but] part of the problem is you're speaking to people who basically agree with you.” No, professor, that’s not “part of the problem,” it’s the whole problem — not only with Cornell’s Religious Right symposium, but also with the academy as a whole.
Joe Sabia can be reached at email@example.com.