Posts Tagged fundamentalism

Dan Savage Makes the Baby Christians Cry

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Shamanistic Nation: Biblical Literalism and Constitutional Originalism

Constitutional originalism is the political variation of biblical literalism, it is an attempt to argue that there is one meaning and only meaning to the constitution.  It applies a fundamentalist thought process to the Constitution, it treats the US Constitution as a religious document and responds to it in the manner of religion, offering devotion and reverence rather than dialogue and interpretation.

In his book Love’s Body (1966), American scholar and classicist Norman O. Brown offers a fascinating insight on biblical literalism:

Literalism does not get rid of the magical element in scriptural or historical interpretation.  The Holy Spirit, instead of a living spirit in the present, becomes the Holy Ghost, a voice from the past enshrined in the book.  The restriction of meaning to conscious meaning makes historical understanding a personal relation between the personality of the reader and the personality of the author, now dead.  Spiritual understanding (geistiges Verstehen) becomes a ghostly operation, an operating with ghosts (Geisteswissenschaft).  The document starts speaking for itself; the reader starts hearing voices.  The subjective dimension in historical understanding is to animate the dead letter with the living reader’s blood, his “experience”; and simultaneously let the ghost of the dead author slide into, become one with, the reader’s soul.  It is necromancy, or shamanism; magical identification with ancestors; instead of living spirit, to be possessed by the dead.

Literalism combines fetishism of the book with shamanism of the interpreter; science and subjectivity . . . . (page 199)

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Who Really Killed Dr. Tiller? Murder in the Name of Christianity.

A few things are empirically true about the murder of Kansas Doctor George Tiller this past summer. The murderer, Scott Roeder and his supporters are angry, extremist, fundamentalist Christians.

While all major Christian institutions have condemned the murder, they have also disavowed the tactics of militant anti-abortion folks who legitimize their behavior under the banner of Christianity.

Even Bill O’Reilly, primary provocateur of record, has clearly and explicitly condemned Scott Roeder and the slaying of an innocent man in the name of Christianity. But O’Reilly did not act alone. He was encouraged, CHEERED in fact, by a small number of militant Christians with a clear history of harassment and violence in and around Wichita Kansas. Apparently, bloggers played a major role, some of them even falling over themselves to take credit.

That is why Richard Okelberry’s history of militant anti-abortion speech, long-standing attacks on Dr. Tiller and his  explicit refusal to condemn Tiller’s murder demands closer scrutiny as to the role he played in this horrific affront to human decency and Christian values.

Note: Richard Okelberry hails from Lincoln, Nebraska less than 200 miles from Roeder’s home.

By his own admission, Okelberry began sending letters about Dr. George Tiller at last as early as March 2006. In a post titled (surprise) “Tiller The baby Killer” which features a faked photo of Tiller in jail, Okelberry writes;

Scott Reoder ProvocateurI also sent copies to Planned Parenthood, the areas premier abortion provider, as well as several state representatives and a few nationally syndicated radio talk show hosts…One of those copied was Mr. Bill O’Reilly from the Fox News Channel and the Bill O’Reilly Show. Richard Okelberry March 24, 2006

It is well know by now that up until the time of Tiller’s murder, O’Reilly or guest, had mentioned Tiller (as the Baby Killer) at least 28 times. In the same post Okleberry implicitly claims to have encouraged Bill O’Reilly:

While I have no idea whether or not my correspondence had any effect, I can tell you with all certainty that Bill O’Reilly has now picked up the ball and is running for the ”in-zone.” In fact he has launched an all out campaign against the infamous Kansas doctor that he calls, “Tiller the baby killer.”

In the days following one of Okelberry’s letters O’Reilly said on the air:

“No question Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands. But now so does Governor Sebelius. She is not fit to serve. Nor is any Kansas politician who supports Tiller’s business of destruction. I wouldn’t want to be these people if there is a Judgment Day.

By any measure, this is a veiled death threat.  While O’Reilly has consistently shocked the world with his bullying, cruelty and recklessness, he is not known for originating death threats.  One can only assume that he was referring to threats made by others?  But who?  Who among O’Reilly’s sources was using the term Judgment Day in reference to Tiller?

I think the answer is clear.  This is a Christian term which, in its most popular context, means death, deserving of death to be specific.

Lets take a moment and consider the vitriol in Okelberry’s writings. In this post of less than 500 words attacking Obama and Sebelius, Okelberry refers to Tiller as a “baby killer” no less than SEVEN times.

Militant Anti-Abortionist“…Gov. Sebelius, even threw a party for the infamous Tiller the Baby Killer (George Tiller)…to thank Tiller for his sizable blood money….Tiller the Baby Killer isn’t just your run of the mill abortionist….that will pluck the dead remains of a fully developed baby at 9 months…Tiller the Baby Killer and his wife…”

George Tiller was murdered 90 days later.

While it remains unclear exactly what role his vicious anti-abortion advocacy played in encouraging the cold-blooded murder of George Tiller by Scott Reoder, it is clear that Ricard Okelberry petitioned Bill O’Reilly to villanize a great and brave Doctor who risked his life everyday to protect the health and in many cases, the lives of women. Richard Okelberry bragged about it.

As a prolific contributing author to a popular local Utah blog called KVNU’s For The People, Okelberry’s response to Tiller’s murder was expected to reflect some contrition.  As one who wore his Christianity on his sleeve, we all expected some remorse, at the very least a clear condemnation for this unchristian act.  Instead, in a post entitled Mass Murderer Dies at the Hands of Radical (which was subsequently removed), we got:

Mass Murderer Dies at the Hands of RadicalMy first instinct after hearing of the shooting Sunday was to write an essay on the topic.  Instead I decided to take a moment to allow those on both sides of this issue make their case.  I was not surprised to find some on the right rejoicing over the death of Tiller.

Should we also look at the charitable record of his murderer to justify his actions?  Both of these men were evil and murderous.  They are both GUILTY!

This is the first death of an abortionist at the hands of a pro-lifer in over 20 YEARS!  This is not a pattern, but merely an incident.  Young men living on the South Side of Chicago are far more likely to meet a violent end… in that community, than any abortions is [sic].

In addition to his uncompromising position against womens’ reproductive health rights and flaunting disregard for law, all under the guise of religion, Okelberry has been advocating for the most vile, sickening law enforcement practices imaginable.  Follows is only one example of the kinds of punishment he imagines for young pregnant girls.

I do want to point out that when a 15 year old girl does have an abortion, the genetic material contained in the discarded fetus should be collected by law enforcement and used as evidence of a crime. What crime you ask? First degree, unlawful sexual assault of a minor child is a felony in Nebraska. Richard Okelberry March 24, 2006

The lengthy record of Okelberry’s writing reflect nothing short of the ugliest kind of misogyny and a total disregard for democracy, privacy, law,  Christian doctrine and the Christian community.

Okelberry’s actions and posture on this issue constitute nothing less than the promotion of violence, immorality, misogyny and intolerance through the fraudulent usurpation of Christianity.

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