Right-wing Christians put their persecution complex on display in full on Thursday at a “U-Turn Conference” at Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania.
I’ll give them this: “U-Turn” is less pretentious than “The Awakening.”
The event was sponsored by the American Pastors Network and featured speakers like alternative history/speculative fiction author David Barton, evangelical author and speaker George Barna, revanchist reactionary Paul Blair, and AFA radio personality, Sandy Rios.
It launched with the theme “The Sky is Falling.”
Several speakers cranked up the right-wing persecution complex, reminding us that they’re desperate for us to get out the lion pit and reopen the Colosseum for business; one of the speakers went so far as to say it would be the “best thing that’s ever happened to the church.”
This is rather sad to watch; the only reason I care that right-wing Christians exist is because they’re standing on my foot. If they get off my foot, I won’t give them anymore thought than I give the Hare Krishnas. Put simply: I don’t care enough about them to persecute them; my time and energy is more wisely spent making the world a better place for everyone, them included.
Speaker Paul Blair cited an English Judge named William Blackstone to defend Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who recently triggered a Constitutional Crisis when he directly defied the federal judiciary. According to Blackstone, “there can be no valid law that’s contrary to scripture,” a tall order given that scripture is often contrary to itself. Blair also declared same-sex marriage is the Evangelical Rubicon, a move I’m entirely in favor of: since we crossed that river a long time ago, it’s over, they lost, and they can go home now.
I know, wishful thinking. But still more realistic than anything said during this conference.
Not everyone was so optimistic; George Barna rambled off a series of statistics lamenting the decline of the “Biblical worldview,” which, as far as I’m concerned, is only a good thing.
The big speech, though, was by speculative fiction author David Barton. Barton is well-known for his alternative history novels, which are only slightly less plausible than Harry Turtledove’s Atlantis series. Barton’s speech invoked all the usual tropes that he’s known for: an emphasis on colonial-era pastors and their influence on the country’s founding, the number of Bible verses that supposedly exist in the United States Constitution, and his claim that the Bible is opposed to minimum wage and capital gains taxes. Barton cited “613 civil laws” in the Bible for running the country.
If that number seems oddly specific, that’s because those 613 “civil laws” are actually called the 613 Mizvot, and are collectively known as the “Law of Moses.” Since Barton says the Bible is opposed to a minimum wage and capital gains tax, it makes me wonder if he’s even read the Law of Moses. After all, I would look forward to laws that:
- Prohibit embarrassing others (Leviticus 19:17)
- Make it illegal to oppress the weak (Exodus 22:21)
- Ban representations of God (including pictures of Jesus on the cross and angels) (Exodus 20:21)
- Ban people from marrying third generation Edomite converts (Deuteronomy 22:8-9)
- Ban the eating of grape skins, fresh grapes, raisins, grape seeds, or the drinking of wine, vinegar, or wine mixtures (Numbers 6:3-4)
- Force farmers to leave a corner of the field uncut for poor people (Leviticus 19:10)
- Force people to give to charity and make it illegal to withhold that charity (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
- Make it illegal to overpay or overcharge for an item and to do business according to the Torah (Leviticus 25:14)
- Force businesses to pay wages on the day they were earned (Deuteronomy 24:15)
- Ban lending with interest (Leviticus 25:37), force banks to lend to the poor, ban them from pressing for payment if they know the poor person can’t afford it (Exodus 22:24), and make it illegal for creditors to seize collateral, as well as making it mandatory that creditors return collateral as it’s needed and not demand collateral from widows (Leviticus 24:10-17)
- Laws that prohibit peace offerings to the Ammon or Moab while laying siege to them (Deuteronomy 23:7)
Mike Huckabee was there in spirit, as well:
Among the video presentations at the conference was a message recorded by Mike Huckabee in Israel, standing on a ridge overlooking the valley that he said would be the site of the battle of Armageddon. He stood on Mt. Carmel, the site of an Old Testament showdown in which Elijah showed up the prophets of Baal by having God rain down fire on an altar he had drenched with water. America, said Huckabee, needs pulpits willing to call down God’s fire.
There were some familiar names among the vendors, too — the Institution of the Constitution, a pro-secessionist and white supremacist group with a strong Christian Reconstructionist bend was doing good business, likely overcharging for the materials they use to train Teabaggers in their particular vision of an America run by Christians who want to be ISIS when they grow up.