PBS, Politics, Patriotism, & The Primordial Patriarch genre: Hip-Gnosis & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation


Heaven help us! PBS is going to air a documentary, The Bible's Buried Secrets, which explores the factuality of the Bible...and Donald "Wingnut" Wildmon's American Family Association has already launched an action alert. The AFA is asking its supporters to sign a petition urging congress to halt all government funding of PBS. You can view the alert here.

From The Orlando Sentinel:

The Bible's Buried Secrets, a new PBS documentary, is likely to cause a furor.

"It challenges the Bible's stories if you want to read them literally, and that will disturb many people," says archaeologist William Dever, who specializes in Israel's history. "But it explains how and why these stories ever came to be told in the first place, and how and why they were written down."

The Nova program will premiere Nov. 18. PBS presented a clip and a panel discussion at the summer tour of the Television Critics Association.

The program says the Bible was written in the sixth century BC and that hundreds of authors contributed.

"At least the first five books of the Bible come together during the Babylonian exile," says producer Gary Glassman.

The program challenges long-held beliefs. Abraham, Sarah and their offspring probably didn't exist, says Carol Meyers, a religion professor at Duke University.

"These stories are unlikely to represent real historical events, but rather there's some kernel of ancient experience in there which has survived and which helps give identity to the people at the time the Bible finally took shape centuries and centuries later," Meyers says.

OK, so I understand that some believers won't like what the PBS program has to say and I can even understand that they would rather not be presented with any evidence that might shake their faith. However, I've always understood that true faith should be able to withstand challenge. Hence, is the effort to shut down funding to PBS a demonstration of faith or evidence of its precarious hold upon those who embrace it?

Frankly, the effort to punish PBS is another in a long string of attempts to purge rational and reasoned dialogue while granting deference to ideological intransigence. These are the same people who insist that creationism be taught in science classes because the theory of evolution lacks the certainty they demand. In other words, they believe intelligent design warrants a place in science, but any single attempt to put the Bible into historical and sociological context elicits an instantaneous effort to end to all government sponsorship of PBS.

Mind you, in the case of the former, we operate under the edict of separation of church and state...while in the case of the latter, there are no such restrictions. On the one hand, the religious right wants the government to accommodate untestable speculation (in a science course, no less), and on the other, they want the government to cease funding any researched examination of Biblical history...the very basis of their demand for the former.

Of course, the spin that will come from the right is that the government is funding the ongoing assault upon people of faith (they are being victimized). It's a clever strategy for a group that routinely seeks to vilify those it opposes. Then again, it fits perfectly with the self-righteous certainty that they've adopted. SImply stated, if one believes one can never be wrong, one is therefore never wrong. Consequently, only when all others adopt one's beliefs, adhere to them accordingly, and are prohibited from dissenting, will the world be acceptable and will one's mission have been accomplished. Science, history, and facts be damned.

Such is the nature of fanaticism and religious intransigence. There will be no good order until the only order that is good is the one they dictate. When democracy furthers their agenda, democracy is idyllic; when democracy conflicts with their agenda, it is an insidious interloper between man and the laws set forth by God.

Take a look at how Wildmon actually views the culture war.

From Religion Dispatches:

The "culture wars" will be irrevocably lost, said Wildmon, if Proposition 8 (the "California Marriage Protection Act" which states that "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California") loses on November 4.

"If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I'm afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost," said Wildmon, "I've never said that publicly until now--but that's just the reality of the fact."

Wildmon pointed out that If the "homosexuals" were "able to defeat the marriage amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, then the culture war is over and we've lost--and gradually, secularism will replace Christianity as the foundation of our society."

There's a perception that American patriotism, democracy, and religiosity are innately linked. I suspect that if the American electorate comes down on the side of cultural secularism (e.g. gay marriage), the patriotism of many religious ideologues will be shown to have been conditional.

If one were to project the trajectory of men like AFA's Donald Wildmon and the dogma they espouse, it will likely be he and his followers who abandon their paradoxical patriotism, in favor of their inviolable ideology, should democracy fail to install and impose it. In the end, I believe it will be those they sought to subjugate who will continue to fight to uphold the constitutional integrity upon which this nation was built. When push comes to shove, the true patriots have always been those citizens who cherished the ideals of this nation...even when the will of the people precluded them from partaking in them.

Should there be any doubt as to the tenuous loyalty to country I'm suggesting may exist, one need look no further than the recent assault upon the judiciary. I contend that those who have embraced the meme of "judicial activism" are the same individuals who benefited from the past inaction of the judiciary and simultaneously used it as the righteous means to restrict and restrain others. American history is littered with persecution and injustice...but very little of it has ever been directed at men of Donald Wildmon's ilk.

What we're beginning to witness is the unraveling of the status quo and the fruits of a revolution born of a commitment to rational and reasoned thought...a movement that maintained its respect for the system while quietly working to transform it. I don't expect my Christian counterparts will be willing to demonstrate the same discipline that my gay brethren have exhibited in the face of having their expressions of love characterized as criminal and their identities classified as mental illness. To call Christians victims is to denigrate the ongoing commitment to a civil society of those who would have been arguably justified to rebel against it.

I wouldn't count on the Donald Wildmon's of the world acting accordingly. As a matter of fact, I fear that history has shown us, time and again, that an allegiance to an almighty is, ironically, the very antithesis of both rationality and reason. As such, it can easily become the quintessential mechanism for mayhem. Heaven help us!

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Tracked on July 22, 2008 6:03 PM

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