Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do conservative hypocrites more negatively impact religious communities?

Well, another Republican hypocrite has emerged: Rep Mark Souder (R-IN) who had an affair with a (femlae) staffer when they did a video on sexual abstinence together. You cannot make up this stuff. Rep Souder of course is a staunch upholder of "family values", Evangelical Christian, bitterly opposed to marriage equality, etc etc etc.

Diana Butler Bass writes:
Souder's actions underscore something much worse: the use and abuse of religious faith to 1) manipulate and control others without having to submit the same standards yourself, and 2) cover for one's own sins. Of such actions, the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote that "only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core." These are the reasons why so many people in contemporary America are rejecting Christianity -- and why they are rightfully criticizing Christians for failing to act as Jesus would have his followers act.

Hypocrisy isn't just about a single individual -- it is, sadly enough, about a community. The hypocrite not only embarrasses himself but also places all those who share his faith tradition in the awkward situation of having to defend themselves as well. It jeopardizes the whole of the church.
Extended, Bass's thesis would suggest that the ongoing sexual hypocrisy of the right including ministers like George "Rentboy" Rekers, Ted "Meth-n-Sex" Haggard, and politicians including Sen. David "DiaperBoy" Vetter, Sen. Larry "ToeTappin'" Craig, Sen. John "Buy-her-off" Ensign, CA Assemblyman Roy "GayDanceClub" Ashburn, SC Gov Mark "AppalachianTrial" Sanford, and now, Rep. Mark "NoSexOnTape" Souder is having more of a negative effect on how religion is viewed than sleaze from the left, like John Edwards and his mistress.

I think there may be something to this. Edwards is pathetic, but at least he wasn't presuming to lecture other people about their sexual morals, and present himself as a staunchly religious upholder of "traditional values".

These other men (it's always men, isn't it?) have set them up as holier-than-thou, and claimed themselves as defenders of "Christianity". And then it turns out that all they have defended is their own hypocrisy. If that's what "Christians" are, says the common man trying to live a moral life, I want none of 'em.

EJDionne writeson the same theme in the WaPo,
...I want to shout as forcefully as I can to my conservative Christian friends: Enough! Enough with dividing the world between moral, family-loving Christians and supposedly permissive, corrupt, family-destroying secularists.

Enough with pretending that personal virtue is connected with political creeds. Enough with condemning your adversaries, sometimes viciously, and then insisting upon understanding after the failures of someone on your own side become known to the world. And enough with claiming that support for gay rights and gay marriage is synonymous with opposition to family values and sexual responsibility.

It's not the self-righteousness of religious conservatives that bothers me most. We liberals can be pretty self-righteous, too. It's the refusal to acknowledge that the pressures endangering the family do not come from some dark secular leftist conspiracy but from cultural and economic forces that affect us all.

...[T]hose of us who are liberal would insist that our support for the rights of gays and lesbians grows from our sense of what family values demand. How can being pro-family possibly mean holding in contempt our homosexual relatives, neighbors and friends? How much sense does it make to preach fidelity and commitment and then deny marriage to those whose sexual orientation is different from our own? Rights for gays and lesbians don't wreck heterosexual families. Heterosexuals are doing a fine job of this on their own.....How many more scandals will it take for people who call themselves Christian to rediscover the virtues of humility and solidarity?

(Lots more on Rekers, and Souder in the hypocrisy posts at Gay Married Californian)


Counterlight said...

I think Jesus and Hannah Arendt would agree on the subject of hypocrisy.

Counterlight said...

Whenever you set yourself up as a public moral scold, you set yourself up for a fall.

I can't decide which is worse, the hypocrites who are rotten to the core, or the fanatics who can be vicious to the core.

JCF said...

These other men (it's always men, isn't it?)

Not necessarily---at least over in Ireland. (See re Iris Robinson)

IT said...

But she's more of the exception to prove the rule, don't you think?

Erika Baker said...

Are there many prominent female evangelicals compared to male ones?

Prior Aelred said...

Helen Chenowith -- Idaho Rep who was a darling of the right wing -- Christian Conservative -- calling for Clinton's impeachment while conducting an affair (for eight years with one fellow, IIRC) -- it's about power & the abuse thereof -- in our society most of the power is exercised by men -- as women get more power, they can abuse it more frequently as well (but that's just me ...)