Friday, October 01, 2004

Fundamentalist Batting Percentages

Whenever the Religious Right gets desperate to convince mainstream Christians to see things their way, they often pull out a bat and try to knock people out of the Christian ballpark.

Their favorite club is the "You can't be a Christian if you don't agree with me!" stick. Jerry Falwell is an MVP at swinging this bat. Just last week he said, "You cannot be a sincere, committed born-again believer who takes the Bible seriously and vote for a pro-choice, anti-family candidate."

If that's not a home run, it is at least a triple. In the swing of a single sentence he made a connection that questioned the sincerity (first base), salvation (second base), and spiritual fidelity (third base) of anyone who doesn't vote for candidates he approves.

Still, it frustrates the Religious Right to see a runner standing on third base. They've got to drive their point home. That's why they always have a clean-up hitter on deck. The clean-up man swings the "You've got to be a baby killer!" stick. This one often clears mainstream Christians from the ballpark, but not because they are convinced. They leave because they don't know how to respond to people so insulting.

I've learned that the only way to hold your own in a political game with Fundamentalists is to turn the tables on them. That's why I always keep a quote from C. Everrett Koop handy. C. Everrett Koop was the Surgeon General in the Reagan Administration. He co-authored, with Francis Schaeffer, the book and film series that educated most evangelicals about abortion -- Whatever Became of the Human Race. In Bill Martin's book, With God on Our Side, Koop explains why he dropped out of the abortion controversy:

If the pro-life people in the late 1960's and the early 1970's had been willing to compromise with the pro-choice people, we could have had an abortion law that provided for abortion only for the life of the mother, incest, rape, and defective child; that would have cut the abortions down to three percent of what they are today. But they had an all-or-nothing mentality. They wanted it all and they got nothing.

Note that the exceptions Koop described coincide exactly with the exceptions that Southern Baptists supported before the takeover of the SBC. Since the takeover, Southern Baptists have shifted to the "all-or-nothing mentality."

The truth is, even if the Fundamentalists were correct about all abortions being murder, then Fundamentalist intransigence is responsible for 97% of the murders and compromising moderates are guilty of 3%. None of us will come out of this guiltless, but one percentage requires a lot less grace.

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