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Conspiracy Theory
Andrew Carey ^ | 3/30/2005 | Andrew Carey

Posted on 04/01/2005 8:29:12 AM PST by sionnsar

Any of us can present a plausible conspiracy theory. And in the Mel Gibson film of the same name, the hero obsesses all day and night over power and corruption at the very highest level – the government, the FBI, the CIA and so on. In his case, of course, the conspiracy turns out in part to be alarmingly and life-threateningly true.

And that is why conspiracy theories are so popular, because by arranging a pattern of partial truths you can create a most convincing and alarming picture.

So it is with the current obsession about the religious right. On the threshold of civilised society, a powerful group of aliens, the religious right, are exercising a malign influence on elections, governments and political parties and the Church. The orchestration comes from the highest level. Influence is bought by fanatical American millionaires over sinister African Patriarchs who practise polygamy. Well-organised media campaigns are fought by a skilful minority of faceless, besuited, middle-aged evangelical clergy. In fact, a war is being waged for the soul of the Church and even the well-being of our society between the rabid voices of intolerance, and the enlightened bearers of civilisation and liberal values.

From an evangelical perspective, I could write a similar conspiracy theory about the decades-long dominance of the Church hierarchy by liberal Bishops and their malign campaign to subvert the Christian faith. It would even be true, in parts, like the secular or liberal Christian version.
In reality, campaigning organisations, campaigning journalists rely on conspiracy theory to recruit, raise funds and sell their stories to demanding editors and publishers.

Two Christian academics, Giles Fraser and William Whyte, published their conspiracy in the Guardian recently: “For decades, the political class on this side of the Atlantic has prided itself on the absence of the religious culture wars. The obsession with abortion, gay marriage and obscenity, the alliance between the secular and religious right – these are peculiarly American pathologies. It couldn’t happen here. After all, we’re just not religious enough.”

The conspiracy theory turns on the fact that it is actually happening here. The evidence is the latest flurry around abortion in which the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church have joined forces to express concern about time limits, the anti-Jerry Spring Show campaign against the BBC and the colonisation of the Church of England “by homophobic evangelicals with broad smiles and loads of PR savvy”.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is described as a “virtual prisoner of the religious right” and “Labour Christians seem silent and impotent”.
The strategy according to Fraser and Whyte is for the secular left to put aside its suspicion of religion and join forces with the religious left.

Thus the rallying cry is uttered. Courage is needed from the Christian left. “They need to toughen up, get organised and invoke the spirit of millions of Christians, from St Francis to Donald Soper, who have fought against injustice throughout the ages.”

Except by trying to divide Christians into right and left, which even in America can be problematic, simply doesn’t work on the ground. Evangelicals in Britain have a long record of campaigning on social justice. There is an honourable tradition of evangelical-inspired Christian socialism. Mass campaigns by the Churches on inner cities, third world debt and employment have been supported and underwritten as much by evangelicals as any other sector of the Church. Much more money from Britain’s evangelicals goes to third world relief than support for their political think tanks, or lobby groups. Politics is as much a minority interest among the evangelicals as it is for any other section of society.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that Christian-inspired single issue campaigning has ever had any impact at all in Britain. In fact campaigns of this kind usually end in defeat. In the last 10 years the so-called Christian right have lost on age of consent, section 28, the Human Rights Act, and civil partnerships and recently over the airing of the Jerry Springer Show. The existence of a few evangelical lobby groups, such as the Christian Institute, and the maverick Christian Voice, just as there are lobby groups on the Christian left, represents legitimate democracy in action rather than unsavoury and malign tactics.

In short, it is simply mischievous, for Fraser and Whyte, to enlist the fear of an American-style ‘moral majority’ with no credible evidence for its numbers or effectiveness. The Archbishop of Canterbury this weekend mocked the notion that raising issues such as abortion were the first step “towards a theocratic tyranny or a capitulation to some Neanderthal Christian right” as “alarmist nonsense”.

On this occasion he should have the last word.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: angpost1
[If the name seems familiar, Andrew Carey is related (somehow) to The Most Rev. George Carey, 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury. It was also a pleasure to me to see this blog, inactive for over six months, suddenly come back to life. There's a lot more there -- click on through. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 04/01/2005 8:29:13 AM PST by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; Saint Reagan; Marauder; stan_sipple; SuzyQue; LifeofRiley; TheDean; pharmamom; ...
Traditional Anglican ping, continued in memory of its founder Arlin Adams.

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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 04/01/2005 8:29:35 AM PST by sionnsar (†† || Iran Azadi || Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?)
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To: sionnsar

I'd rather see the Christian right running this country secretly than those sneaky Free-Masons....


3 posted on 04/01/2005 8:31:00 AM PST by mike182d ("Let fly the white flag of war." - Zapp Brannigan)
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To: sionnsar

My mother is a big Art Bell fan so she's an expert at spotting the "hidden truths". Fortunately she's fairly conservative and doesn't see a vast republican or right wing conspiracy.

With her the conspiracy involves the corporate/gov/HARP/bioenetic/black heliocopter/ trilateral commision/bohemian grove/contrail/illuminatti controlled world wide conspiracy. However she did vote for Bush as the lesser of many many many evils.

4 posted on 04/01/2005 8:39:09 AM PST by cripplecreek (I'm apathetic but really don't care.)
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To: mike182d

Free masons?! They were disbanded over a hundred years ago!

5 posted on 04/01/2005 2:00:50 PM PST by LauraleeBraswell ( CONSERVATIVE FIRST-Republican second.)
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To: LauraleeBraswell

Yes, they are expensive masons living on pensions now, and with all that time on their hands... /snark.

Jesting is occasionally convenient,
Deacon Paul+

6 posted on 04/01/2005 2:54:14 PM PST by BelegStrongbow (Having a human friend is no bed of roses-but hobbits? That's very different. :))
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