The Devil and America

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, U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania.

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The Left as well as some on the Right have given Rick Santorum a hard time for his statements suggesting that the United States is under Satanic attack. He now claims that his 2008 statements are no longer relevant today, but that seems to be a political move. Mr. Santorum is being labeled as a nut case because of his comments. I suggest that he is quite sane.

Since the Second Great Awakening beginning in the late eighteenth century, the United States has been a religious country, and de facto a Christian nation influenced by Evangelical Protestant piety. There was a generally accepted moral code, traditional in content, on which the vast majority of Americans agreed. Many Americans may not have practiced the moral code very well, but the point is that they acknowledged it. People should honor their commitments, especially marriage. Abortion was wrong, and if many women got abortions anyway (which was common in Hollywood given the non-pregnancy clauses in many actresses’ contracts), these same women knew that abortion was not the sort of thing they should be doing. Sexual ethics were in principle conservative, with any sexual activity prior to or outside of marriage morally forbidden. Child-rearing was considered an important task for women, and after the Industrial Revolution in effect kept women from making a direct economic impact on the family in terms of increases resources, it was thought best to pay the husband a living wage so his wife could stay home and take care of children. Admittedly this was not an ideal situation, but it was a way to preserve the key role of women in child-rearing. Crime, though rising rapidly after World War II, was not at the extreme levels to which it rose from 1965 onward. Almost half the nation went to church every Sunday. Network television offered religious programming from Father Fulton J. Sheen to NBC’s “Herald of Truth” with Batsell Barrett Baxter from the Churches of Christ. Public prayers were common as well as public Christmas as Easter displays, even on state or federal property. Most American presidents acknowleged the Christian heritage of the United States, even labeling it a “Christian nation”–the first president to explicitly reject that attribution was Mr. Obama.

Although the more bohemian of the intellectual classes did not appreciate the Christian focus of the United States, especially writers and artists, most intellectuals of the time, even the liberals, would be considered “conservative” by today’s standards. Even some bohemians, such as Jack Kerouac, were politically conservative and searching for God. Mr. Kennedy’s administration did not seem to be a significant break with the past.

After President Kennedy’s assassination, followers of the Frankfurt School of Marxism, whose goal was the destruction of Christian and of Western Civilization to prepare the way for the Marxist revolution, infiltrated colleges and universities, in part through Students for a Democratic Society. These individuals had a huge crop of the first baby boomers hitting colleges and universities in 1964, many of whom had never suffered hard lives and many of whom had been reared by permissive parents. It was a volatile mix. Almost fifty years have passed since the revolution against traditional Christian values began in earnest in1964. Marriage, instead of being considered a sacred union, is now considered to be no different that other contractural agreements. The United States Supreme Court legalized abortion in January 1973 (following the U.K., which passed the “Abortion Act” in 1967). 1.5 million unborn children a year were killed until the recent drop in the abortion rate, which is now around 1.3 million a year. Sexual ethics is in shambles; sexual sins are no longer a matter of someone who knows better yielding to temptation. Rather, they are celebrated and those who commit sexual sins do not consider their actions to be sinful. Contraception, designed for married couples who did not wish to have children at particular points in their lives, spread to unmarried individuals and the sexual revolution was on. Crime exploded after 1964. The intellectual class, much of the media, and artists and writers hold views that as late as 1965 would have been considered radical. Now they are mainstream and traditional Christian views have been pushed to the margin to the point that the United States government may get to the point of openly persecuting traditional Christians.

Now I, at least, am a traditional Christian (though God knows I often am not a very good one). From my point of view, the world turning upside down since 1964 is due to human free choices, of course, but choices guided by forces hostile to the good. Although belief in Satan and in demons is not in the Christian Creeds, such a belief is part of the official beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the few traditional Anglicans left, and among many Evangelical Protestants. I share that view that Satan is a fallen angel, hostile to God, hostile to good. The sheer extent of the revolution since 1964 cannot only be explained, in my opinion, by natural forces and human choices unaided by any outside powers. Thus, I believe that the evil parts of the 60s revolution–abortion, divorce, sexual sin approved, extreme self-centeredness, the Pelagian “human potential” movement–have overwhelmed society due to the influence of Satan and those supernatural powers that are under his control. The sheer missionary zeal of bohemian artists, for example, cannot be explained totally in terms of their own powers. True, their choices are free, but one of the influences that led them to make free choices consistent with evil is, in my opinion, demonic–literally, not figuratively. Thus, while I have my disagreements with Mr. Santorum (especially on the issues of torture and war), I believe he was correct in 2008 when he said that the United States was under demonic attack. It is at least a possibility for those Christians who do not have a pick-and-choose religion.

Republican Candidates and Waterboarding

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Official photo of Congresswoman Michele Bachma...

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Herman Cain speaking at a press conference to ...

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Although as a traditional conservative I cannot vote for Mr. Obama, I also cannot vote for Mr. Cain or Ms. Bachmann. I am voting for Ron Paul, and would be open to voting for Mr. Huntsman if he got the Republican nomination. I can swallow hard and vote for neoconservative warmongers such as Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Santorum, but I will not vote for a candidate who supports waterboarding. Mr. Can and Ms. Bachmann explicitly said that they would reinstate waterboarding, which is, despite their denials, a form of torture. Mr. Perry hinted that he could support waterboarding, and that adds another reason I could not vote for him. Torture is objectively morally evil, and for candidates to claim Christian identity while supporting a crass utilitarianism that would countenance torture reveals their hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of their “Christian” supporters who also support waterboarding and other forms of torture. I am not so naive so as to believe that the United States has not used torture in the past, but torture has not been a part of official U. S. policy–at least it wasn’t until the administration of George W. Bush. Even Mr. Obama has only added window dressing in limiting torture, letting other countries do the dirty work. To support torture or to deny that waterboarding constitutes torture reveals a major character flaw that is incompatible with a person being president of the United States. Even if we could obtain actionable intelligence from waterboarding, which is doubtful to the point of being practically impossible, this would not morally justify the practice. Mr. Cain and Ms. Bachmann (and perhaps Mr. Perry) find themselves supporting an evil practice that strips human beings of their dignity, a dignity presupposed in the Geneva Conventions. If an open supporter of torture receives the Republican nomination, I will vote for a third party candidate. Critics of Mr. Obama might say that any Republican would be better than him, but a Republican who states that he or she would reinstate waterboarding would not be better than Mr. Obama.

The problem is that both major parties have been purchased by warmongers, to the point that critics of war and or torture such as Mr. Paul, receive limited air time in a lengthy debate. Mr. Paul only received ninety seconds of air time in last night’s debate. That is a travesty that reflects the extent to which the military-industrial complex has captured the U. S. media. The fact that so-called Christians criticize Mr. Paul for opposing torture in all forms and for opposing unnecessary wars reveals the so-called “Christian right” to be neither Christian nor truly right wing. The traditional right would neither have supported torture no engaging in unnecessary wars. The Cold War was the beginning of the fall of the right into warmongering. Afraid of Communist world domination, which could not have happened given the inevitable inefficiency of Communism, the American right supported the major U. S. military buildup of the 1950s. Southerners, who should know better after the War between the States, strongly supported this warmongering policy, as did the leaders of the Christian right in the 1970s and 80s. When  the U.S. engaged in torture in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, these same groups supported the U.S. practice of torture. There are a few people on both the right and on the left who oppose torture. They should work together to change U. S. policy to the point that it cannot engage in torture anywhere and at any time. If they fail, the United States will pay by losing support in the world community–and by losing its soul.