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2007

Logocide: The Latest Christianist Tactic
Friday, 08 June 2007 19:12
by Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.

On May 31, 2007 The New York Times featured an OpEd titled “What I Think About Evolution” by Sam Brownback. The GOP presidential wannabe – and sycophant of the Christian Right – was supposedly “clarifying” why he raised his hand during the May 2007 Republican presidential candidates’ debate when the moderator asked who does not believe in evolution.

But all Mr. Brownback succeeded in doing was proving how skillful he is at what, in American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, Chris Hedges called “logocide,” the killing of words:

The old definitions of words are replaced by new ones. … Words such as “truth,” “wisdom,” “death,” “liberty,” “life,” and “love” no longer mean what they mean in the secular world. “Life” and “death” mean life in Christ or death to Christ, and are used to signal belief or unbelief in the risen lord. “Wisdom” has little to do with human wisdom but refers to the level of commitment and obedience to the system of belief. “Liberty” is not about freedom, but the “liberty” found when one accepts Jesus Christ and is liberated from the world to obey Him.

In his OpEd, Mr. Brownback added “science,” “faith” and “reason” to the logocide lexicon. The standard dictionary definitions provide points of reference:

science: knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method; such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena. [italics added]

faith: belief and trust in and loyalty to God; belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; firm belief in something for which there is no proof. [italics added]

reason: a rational ground or motive; a sufficient ground of explanation or of logical defense; something that supports a conclusion or explains a fact. [italics added]

Science is based on facts… provable, verifiable facts. Faith is what one has when there are no provable, verifiable facts and no rational reason to believe. But in Mr. Brownback’s logocide lexicon, “science” and “faith” are fungible in relation to evolution:

we cannot drive a wedge between faith and reason. I believe wholeheartedly that there cannot be any contradiction between the two. … they do not contradict each other because the spiritual order and the material order were created by the same God.


That’s Brownback’s and the Christianist Right’s version of “God,” of course, and their version of “faith” that, as Mr. Brownback put it, “seeks to purify reason so that we might be able to see more clearly.” The use of the word “purify” is most telling. Apparently Mr. Brownback believes science can be “pure” only if “seen” through the opaque lens of religious dogma.

Dogma n, [L dogmat-, dogma, fr. Gk, from dokein to seem] 1a: something held as an established opinion; a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds; an imperious or arrogant declaration of opinion [bold italics added]

Galileo used the lenses of science to confirm that the sun is the center of the solar system. Institutionalized religion used its dogmatic lens to justify arresting him and putting him trial on for heresy.

Religion n, ME religioun, fr. AF religium, L religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perh. Fr. religare to restrain, tie back [bold italics added]

Why is it that religion-based “faith,” even in the twenty-first century, refuses to accept scientific facts? Indeed, today’s medieval-minded fundamentalists are dedicated to eradicating science and replacing it with bible-based fairy tales. Witness Answers in Genesis’ new Creation Museum.

Despite libraries full of facts and centuries of scientific proof supported by hard, empirical evidence, the exhibits at AIG’s biblical boondoggle in Petersburg, KY maintain that the Earth is 6,000 years-old, dinosaurs and human children played together in Eden, Tyrannosaurus rex was a strict vegetarian, every kind of dinosaur was among the passengers on Noah’s ark, dinosaurs went extinct only a few hundred years ago, and the waters from Noah’s flood quickly carved the Grand Canyon just a few thousand years ago.

There’s also an exhibit at the museum that suggests belief in evolution is the root of most of modern society’s “evils.” It shows models of children leaving a church where the minister “believes in” evolution. Soon the girl is on the phone to Planned Parenthood, while the boy cruises the Internet for pornography sites.

Mr. Brownback, please raise you hand if you think the $27 million Creation Museum and its exhibits are a ridiculous assault on science and knowledge.

Using the social science called “economics,” how many people could have been helped, how many children could have been fed and clothed with the $27 million wasted on AIG’s testimonial to ignorance? Raise you hand if you know, Mr. Brownback.

There’s another bit of Brownback’s OpEd that deserves attention:
 
“I firmly believe that each human person, regardless of circumstance, was willed into being and made for a purpose.”

Given the context, the senator from Kansas – the state that redefined “science” to accommodate “intelligent design” – clearly meant “willed into being and made for a purpose” by “God” for reasons and “in a manner known fully only to Him,” as the senator put it.

So why, Mr. Brownback, do you champion homophobia and every bit of legislation meant to demean and discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans? If “God” ordained them to be gay, why are you working against His will? Raise your hand if you’re a hypocritical bigot, Senator.

No doubt this is where Brownback would invoke the faith-based “ex-gay” myth that homosexuals can be cured and liberated by accepting the Christianists’ version of Jesus Christ. As Exodus International, a “referral ministry,” boisterously proclaims, “Exodus has served men and women who are affected by homosexuality. Freedom is possible through Jesus Christ!”

Recall one of Chris Hedges’ examples of logocide: “‘Liberty’ is not about freedom, but the ‘liberty’ found when one accepts Jesus Christ and is liberated from the world to obey Him.” That “Him” is the perverted icon advocated by the Christianist Right.” In other words, that “Him” is “Them.”

Every – that’s every – science-based association in America has decried “ex-gay therapies” as unscientific, harmful, degrading, and without merit.

According to the American Medical Association, “there is no published scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of reparative therapy as a treatment to change one’s sexual orientation.” The AMA “does not recommend aversion therapy for gay men and lesbians.”

The American Psychological Association has stated that:

“groups who try to change the sexual orientation of people through so-called conversion therapy are misguided and run the risk of causing a great deal of psychological harm to those they say they are trying to help.”

The American Psychiatric Association concurs:

“gay men and lesbians who have accepted their sexual orientation positively are better adjusted than those who have not done so.”

And according to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
 
“therapy directed at specifically changing sexual orientation is contraindicated, since it can provoke guilt and anxiety while having little or no potential for achieving changes in orientation.”

Just as Thomas Jefferson knew there needed to be a wall between church and state, there must be a wedge between religion and science. Mr. Brownback’s arguments – which get an “A” for logocide – are simply another attempt to make America a backward-looking medieval Christianist state in which Ken Ham, president and CEO of Answers in Genesis, defines science and discredited “psychologist” Paul Cameron dictates social policy:

At the 1985 Conservative Political Action Conference, Cameron announced to the attendees, “Unless we get medically lucky, in three or four years, one of the options discussed will be the extermination of homosexuals.” According to an interview with former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, Cameron was recommending the extermination option as early as 1983.
– Mark E. Pietrzyk, News-Telegraph, March 10, 1995.
 
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a guest said:

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Discredited?
"*Pietrzyk claims that Cameron advocated the "extermination of male homosexuals."

Response: The Forum interviewer remarked that many societies have considered homosexuality a capital crime. Noting that it would be cheaper to kill homosexuals in primitive societies than jail or quarantine them is hardly an endorsement. In fact, Cameron is quoted in the same article as saying that such an idea is "not politically, ethically or socially acceptable" today. Where former Surgeon General Koop got his information is mystifying. He never asked Dr. Cameron whether he advocated such a policy." - Revisiting New Republic's Attack on Cameron (See 'website' for full report from FRI's site)

People would do well to note as well that Pietrzyk is a member of the Log Cabin Republicans.
 
June 08, 2007 | url
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