Friday, November 13, 2009

Pandagon Watch: Christians = Radical Muslims

One of the reasons I love reading Pandagon so much is because of the fringe positions discussed there and lapped up by the commenters. On Pandagon, if you are a conservative, a Republican of any stripe, a Christian and/or a pro-life supporter, you aren't merely misguided or stupid, you're evil. Then the writer cherrypicks some individual or tiny group to point out some supposed universal truth about conservatives, Republicans, Christians and pro-life supporters.

Take this post by--who else?--Amanda Marcotte titled, "We call them the cracker Taliban for a reason." The reason, in this case, is that one church burned a bunch of books on Halloween. The list of books included different versions of the Bible, music of all persuasions, and books by authors ranging from Billy Graham to Rick Warren to Benny Hinn to Mother Teresa.

The Amazing Grace Baptist Church of Canton, North Carolina is an "Independent Fundamental King James Version Baptist Church," meaning it believes the King James Version of the Bible to be the only true Bible and rejects all other translations and interpretations. It also holds some very strict interpretations of scripture, and only endorses certain kinds of music (no contemporary Christian music, no modern praise music). This church also condemns body piercing, cross dressing and surgery to alter one's sex. In other words, this is a very strict church with very narrow interpretations of scripture and many rules about behavior (a complete list can be found here).

And this church is also probably tiny. Pastor Marc Grizzard describes it as "small," although the total number of members is not listed. I'd put it at probably about 20. In any event, the beliefs of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church don't reflect the views of millions of Christians regarding faith or politics.

But that doesn't stop Amanda from tarring Christians with this group or comparing them to the Taliban.

Right wing Christians try to pretend there’s some kind of yawning gulf between Islam and Christianity, but this sort of thing just goes to show that no matter what the technical religion is, crazy ass fundamentalists are all the same.

Nowhere on the church's website did I find calls for squirting school girls with acid, beating men for beard length violations or the banning of kite flying or bird keeping. Moreover, to argue that because a tiny fringe group favors, say, dress codes, that that equals suicide bombers or jihadis is just batshit insane. But this is precisely the argument Amanda makes, and has made many times before.
The Cracker Taliban would happily ban art and music to prove their bona fides. The mentality that drives this sort of thing is inherently competitive and misanthropic. Misanthropic, because of the deep-seated hostility to pleasure (at least experienced by other people), and competitive, because religious nuts love to show that they’re tougher than their competitors in the art of making people’s short stays on earth as miserable as possible. No music, no entertaining reading, no diversion from sitting around hating life and wishing it could be over already. Meanwhile, the sadists get lots of pleasure out of hurting others.

Amanda doesn't bother giving any examples of how members of the Amazing Grace Baptist Church are "making people miserable" or "hurting others," but, nonetheless, she thinks it's a scary, scary place when 20 people believe in a non-government approved way.

Amusingly, Amanda finds a way to transition from "The Cracker Taliban is gonna throw acid on your wimmins" to "Not forcing taxpayers to pay for abortions is genocide!!1!" This isn't the first time that every diatribe against some tiny church leads back to "don't stop Planned Parenthood!" or some such nonsense.

Part of what makes this comparison so bizarre is that nowhere in this post or others, can Amanda find even one case of the "Cracker Taliban" mowing down a lot of innocent civilians while yelling, "God is great" or something similar. Instead, her complaint is that *one* church has a book burning, which includes a wide variety of tomes. She complains that these Christians want everyone to be miserable (there's no evidence of that), which, I guess is supposed to equate with Sharia law, in which stealing is punishable by chopping off your hand.

Of course, the comparison is meant to be offensive; Amanda is probably another of those Hasan enablers/apologists who believe the real reason Nidal Hasan gunned down a bunch of his fellow soldiers while yelling "Allahu Akbar" was because of George Bush and pro-lifers. Sure, there's no evidence connecting those groups and Hasan, but then, there's no connection between fundamentalist Christians and the Taliban, either.