Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Professor Ludlow's New 95 Theses on the Religious Right

Great post on the Leiter Report about Prof. Peter Ludlow's new set of 95 Theses:

Here are a few of the theses:

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said "love thy neighbor", willed that believers should show *compassion* toward others.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean mere lip service ("I love them, but I hate their sin"), but genuine concern for the welfare of others.

3. Yet the Religious Right has forsaken compassion for a doctrine of institutionalized hatred and violence.

4. Specifically, the Religious Right has taken the Word of God and wrapped it in the flag of Right Wing Politics, replacing God's message of redemption for the entire world with a narrow message endorsing right wing American politics.

5. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus in the gospel of Luke, where He instructs that we are to show compassion for the poor.

6. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a right wing political doctrine in which the poor have only themselves and their alleged laziness and moral weakness to blame.

7. For example, the Religious Right has rejected the needs of poor children of unwed mothers.

8. The Religious Right has rejected the cries for help from the children of impoverished families in the inner cities.

9. The Religious Right, has advocated fewer resources for the elderly poor and for the millions of children now living in poverty.

10. In place of giving to the poor, the Religious Right has advocated political doctrines specifically designed so that individuals may acquire vast sums of money.

11. The Religious Right has thus seized on a contemporary economic ideology as an excuse to ignore the teachings of Jesus.


18. Item: the Religious Right has neglected the teachings of Jesus that "he who is without sin should cast the first stone."

19. In place of God's words, the Religious Right has substituted a doctrine in which perceived sinners are to be persecuted.

20. Gays, for example, are persecuted because of their alleged sins. In some cases, leaders of the Religious Right have encouraged acts of physical violence against gays.

21. While the Religious Right has been eager to persecute others for their alleged sins, they have been blind to their own.

22. While the Bible counsels that a rich man can no more enter the of Heaven than a camel can pass through the eye of a needle, many in the Religious Right have celebrated the acquisition of wealth.

23. While the Bible enjoins us against pride, the Religious Right appears to be flush with pride in it's holier than thou stance.

24. While the Bible asks that we be slow to anger, the Religious Right is quick to anger -- indeed it appears to revel in anger and in fanning the flames of anger in others.

25. While the Bible counsels that we are not to be "revilers," key members of the religious right have consistently and aggressively reviled their political enemies as well as those who are perceived to be sinners.

26. It seems then, that the Religious Right picks its sins selectively, ignoring the clear Biblical message against avarice, pride, and anger, and emphasizing selected “sins” that have little to no Biblical basis.


31. Item: Religious Right has failed to see that God's call to help our neighbors also extends to our international neighbors.

32. International aggression is not a Christian doctrine.

33. Where the Bible calls us to be peacemakers, the Religious Right claims that we have no business trying to bring peace to troubled areas but rather counsels that we should use military might to secure our business interests.

34. Where the Bible, through the story of the good Samaritan, instructs that we are to help our international neighbors -- indeed, even our enemies -- the Religious Right counsels "America First".

35. But "America First" cannot be a true Christian Doctrine.

36. The Bible gives no special status to political entities like the United States of America, and any suggestion to the contrary is to simply lie about the content of the Bible.

37. God does not bless nation states, and if He did, He surely would not bless them for practicing international internal intolerance, and propping up corrupt kingdoms and military juntas that traffic in institutionalized poverty and violence.


65. Item: The Religious Right has paid lipservice to the moral development of children, yet their doctrines are antithetical to the interests of children.

66. They appear to believe that moral development can be accomplished solely through discipline and censorship -- censorship of thought-provoking materials and censorship of the findings of science.

67. Yet, as a group, the members of the Religious Right have failed miserably as parents.

68. Jesus said, "suffer the children come unto me," yet members of the Religious Right have physically and psychologically abused their children.

69. They have advocated corporeal punishment, and have carried out acts of indoctrination on their children which, truth be known, are as severe as those of any fringe religious cult.

70. They have made children to be ashamed of and hate their bodies, when they should be proud that those bodies are the temples of God.

71. They have lied to children about the nature of God's creation, teaching them to ignore the great beauty God has revealed through the biological sciences.

72. In place of that beauty, they have taught their children a theory in which God's revelation through nature is ignored, and an ugly doctrine of fiat creation is espoused.

73. They have taught their children to be intolerant of others, to be hateful of gays and persons of color.

74. They have failed to instruct their children in God's message of love and redemption and have substituted for it a message of exclusion, suspicion, and contempt.

75. They have failed to raise their children according to the teachings of the Bible.

76. They have utterly failed as parents, yet they presume to dictate how we should raise our own children.


83. Item: the Religious Right pays lip service to the authority of the Word of God, yet that Word plays little role in the treating of the Religious Right.

84. In place of the message of God's Grace and our redemption, they have substituted a purely political doctrine with no grounding in the Scriptures.

85. Rare are the references to passages of the Bible in the sermons of the Religious Right.

86. Those references that survive, are taken out of context and are merely used to justify preestablished political doctrines.

87. For example, there is no Biblical support for their views on abortion.

88. There is no Biblical support for their right wing economic theories.

89. There is no Biblical support for their campaign of abuse against their own children.

90. There is no Biblical support for their "America First" doctrines.

91. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of persons of color.

92. There is no Biblical support for their treatment of homosexuals.

93. In conclusion: the Religious Right has desecrated the house of God, taking a place of worship and treating it as a soap box in the service or the Right Wing of the Republican Party.

94. The Religious Right has likewise desecrated the Word of God, attributing to the Bible doctrines that are hateful, cruel, and entirely antithetical to the actual contents of the Bible.

95. Christians are to be exhorted to speak out against the Religious Right, as it is a vile heretical movement, wholly outside the teachings of the Word of God.

Do go read them all.


At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's a good thing that the country in general (or at least those who are paying attention) are finally having a conversation about the role of religion in our society and the public discourse.

What concerns me is the tendency among some to conflate those who are both religious and conservative into a kind of universal bogeyman that's being called "the Religious Right" and to suggest that they're trying to impose a theocracy on the country.

As you know, I'm both religious and on the right, but I'm certainly not affiliated with such an organization, even though some of my personal views are similar to some of those held by folks more fundamentalist and more conservative than I.

In short, there's a lot I agree with in Ludlow's 95 Theses, but also a lot that strikes me as little more than stereotyping and passing judgment on others' faith that gets right into Matthew 7:1-5 territory.

I think these kinds of discussions probably would be more useful if they didn't rely on advancing one point of view by attacking another.

A valid position should be able to stand on its own.


At 3:56 PM, Blogger Cephas said...

Yeah, I pretty much agree with you regarding these theses. Labels are unfair. Some of what he says is good but I think he had to do a good bit of padding to make it to 95. Thanks.


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