The normally droll peak-oil blog Archdruid Report has an amusing political post this week about the large gulf between the Christian rhetoric and the decidedly post-Christian behavior of much of America’s right-wing elite. While this has been noted by many, the conclusion presented here is, shall we say, unique:
If [Republicans are] deriving their commitments from a religion, it’s pretty clearly not the one taught by Jesus. Many people have made this same point in recent years, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them that another religion that’s active in today’s America does teach all the things the GOP supports. That religion, of course, is Satanism, and more specifically the version of it taught in Anton Szandor LaVey’s The Satanic Bible.
If you want a nice visual to go along with this, I suggest you view the famous satanic evangelist bit from Mr. Show:
I don’t think America’s leaders, left- or right-wing, are closet satanists, though they (and much of the public) clearly worship money, power, and profit above all else. This is not a new phenomenon. The American ideal has long been the self-made man who “clawed his way to the top,” and it is the germ of a thousand movies and get-rich-quick infomercials. Those who are best at gaming the system are heroes, and even the most extreme criminals are begrudgingly admired for their single-minded will to power. Don’t be a sucker. Why aren’t you rich already? This is the true American religion.
While the US certainly has no monopoly on greed and hypocrisy, it is also not a coincidence that the right-wing revolution of the past 40 years has been accompanied by a surge in the Deep South hucksterism which passes itself off as Christian piety. The continual fluffing of the rich must be accompanied by repeated affliction of the poor. The failure of the poor to maximize their utility (in the narrowly-defined terms deemed acceptable in this country) sets a bad example and must be punished.
For the power elite, part of this religiosity is a defense mechanism. We may worship those who outwit, outplay, and outlast their competitors, but only the most sociopathic people will openly admit that they enjoy the exploitation of others on their way up the ladder. For the rest, it is a rare person who can accept their wealth and power as an accident of upbringing or geography. Their insecurity and guilt must be continually assuaged.
A particularly cartoonish example of this psychology at work showed up in the news just two days ago. What can you say about supposedly religious philanthropists who, in spite of all their worldly rewards, feel that even a temporary pause in the scraping and bowing in their direction is just cause for spiritual extortion? (Hey Cardinal, do you want that new roof for St. Patrick’s or not? Then you better change the Pope’s tune forthwith!) To such a person one can only suggest an aspirin and a study of what the Bible actually says on these topics.