I have a semi-official policy of ignoring Christian media mogul Pat Robertson whenever possible. You can set a clock by how often he says something stupid, insensitive, outrageous, or inadvertently amusing about any belief system that doesn’t walk lockstep with his own. He’s a calculating offender who knows that causing controversy is good for his business. I frankly have no idea how the folks at Right Wing Watch or Talk to Action manage to cling to sanity in their daily trawl through the seamy underbelly of conservative Christianity. Surely that much Pat Robertson isn’t healthy for anyone? In any event, the folks at RWW reported on yet another stupid observation on Robertson’s 700 Club, this time from current Roberston sycophant Kristi Watts.
Since Hrafnkell has done such an able job of dismantling the anti-Pagan (and anti-atheist) religious hit-job on Robertson’s program, I’ll instead bring up one other point. Atheists aren’t gunning to chop down all the trees us Pagan tree-huggers hug because they predominantly believe in environmental and climate science, and know that cutting down “every tree” would destroy our ecosystem, and life on earth itself (sadly, ski resort Jesus statues don’t absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen). To some Christians climate change initiatives and environmental regulations aren’t a matter of responsible stewardship, but a form of “paganism” in of itself. However, interestingly, Robertson isn’t one of them.
So even if Wiccans worshiped trees as their “god,” I think both Robertson and the straw-man atheists described on his program would agree that a policy of cutting “down every tree because it’s offensive” wouldn’t be in their best interests. It’s a shame that Robertson didn’t correct his sidekick on this simple point of logic.
Today the political elite of the United States engaged in an annual tradition, the National Prayer Breakfast, attended by every president since Eisenhower, and held up by supporters as a peace-making, problem-solving moment of unity.
However, as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) point out, the organizers of this event, the Fellowship Foundation (aka “The Family”) use its influence to further a noxious agenda.
Journalist and author Jeff Sharlet, who as written two important books about this organization, “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power” and “C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy,” says that the Fellowship Foundation has been waging a war on the United States’ Establishment Clause since its formation.
The fact that a group tied to abhorrent and lethal anti-gay legislation in Uganda, and committed to an agenda that mocks our constitution, is still awarded such position in our society says much about the venality of our political climate and the clout this group has been allowed to cultivate. Instead of an interfaith event, or secular gathering, our nation’s moment of unity is interpreted through the lens of Christianity, and a limited, conservative, empire-minded, Christianity at that. This audacious enforcement of a Christian America technically side-steps constitutional issues by being a “private” event, a fact that allows smaller, local, prayer breakfasts to invite notoriously controversial figures while avoiding litigation.
This year, thanks to Occupy Faith D.C., there’s an interfaith People’s Prayer Breakfast that calls on Americans “to pray and to stand in unity with those suffering economic hardship and inequality in our nation.”
So here we have two competing Prayer Breakfasts, and two competing views of our nation. One favors gathering power and establishing Christianity as the focal point of national unity, while the other opens its doors to all faiths, and concerns itself with those who aren’t being served or supported by our current system. One is about back room deals, while the other is about “breakout sessions.” Only one of these visions is one in which modern Paganism has a place at the table, and its that vision that our interfaith efforts work on building. As our community, our movement, continues to grow, we need to work on growing institutions and events that are inclusive, open, and support our core values. Eventually, with enough work, perhaps we can build a large enough interfaith coalition to challenge The Family’s Prayer Breakfast, to provide a robust counter-narrative that is truly in the grand spirit of our secular nation.
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