Ask A Genius 465 – Spirituality as a Political Tool (2)
December 6, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Rick Rosner: Let’s talk about the whole deal, the use of Evangelicals in politics.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: The political use of religion.
Rosner: There is a better word than “use.” The energizing of the base.
Jacobsen: The zeal?
Rosner: It feels like, with the Evangelical voters, this has been going on for the last 150 years, but it hasn’t been. Because this has only happened for the last 30 years. Because conservative think tanks have been thinking about how to get leverage over the American populace, how do they get voters to vote in their people.
Before, in America, you had a more benign form of evangelism. “Christianity close to home” would be a good phrase for it. The 50s and 40s in the, at least, idealized form of America.
You have a bunch of towns each packed with a bunch of churches. Each person went to a church or a synagogue. Each worshipped in their own way, but each in their own Judeo-Christian values and each more or less worked out for each other.
In more sinister cases, they became busybodies on people’s behavior that fell short. It was a more benign form of pervasive religious values, not particularly coercive but with some aspects of coercion.
It is not strident and not feeling threatened and not trying to opposed religious values of others. When necessary, it is not seriously impinging on politics; this is where the conservative side has been piling up now, and a large number of the Evangelical voters.
Any mainstream politician, liberal or conservative, has to claim to be religious. It is a very brave and exceptional politician who doesn’t claim to be religious. It is a rare group of voters that will vote that person in.
The dog whistling in politics every time a politician makes a public statement. The religious voter understands the statement in its nuanced meaning but the non-religious don’t because it is a dog whistle to the religious. It can be used cynically.
The American version of this isn’t new. There is always the potential for it, as long as there has been religion or politics. Although, you have instances of it. There has been the potential for it as long as there has been religious and politics.
Jacobsen: It goes back to Constantine.
Rosner: We don’t burn people at the stake. It has been done at the cross-purposes of politics and religion. By embracing science, you don’t necessarily avoid; you open yourself up to a whole different set of tragedy.
The atomic bomb is one.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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