For most people, modern daily life is regulated by the present visible global economic system, also called the “official economy” by such agencies as the International Monetary Fund, or IMF. It is a system which was conceived and grew in the industrialized West, and the societies dominated by Western culture – Europe, the United States, and the wealthier nations of the British Commonwealth, such as Australia and New Zealand. For these nations, this system has produced a standard of living far above anything experienced by the majority of the world’s populations. The corporatist leaders and oligarchs who rule this system have been very successful in swaying governments to do their will. They have rallied political parties around them to promote and enforce policies favorable to big business. And they have recruited religious leaders to legitimize their activities and to sell their policies to the general public. Thus it is that most leaders in the Religious Right in the United States support the libertarian, laissez-faire, pro-business policies promoted most visibly by the Republican Party.
However, there are problems with this present system. First, it is inherently unfair. It promotes the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few individuals by trickery and defrauding of the masses. It relies on unfair and unbalanced trade agreements with Third World nations – agreements which allow for the cheap extraction of raw materials and finished goods from these nations by means of slave labor, in order to sell products at profit in the markets of the First World. It allows big business to maximize profit by externalizing the true cost of doing business onto the poor, as when grossly polluting industrial plants with no environmental controls or oversight are built in poor neighborhoods or poor countries.
Also, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this present system is unsustainable. The most obvious signs of this unsustainability are peak oil and global climate change, along with other examples of environmental destruction. And there are additional resource peaks which are now becoming apparent. The continuation of global “economic growth” at a certain percentage per year, ad infinitum, is becoming more and more obviously impossible. The “official” global economic system is breaking down bit by bit, piece by piece with each day, and is on its way to a terminal breakdown. However, while the system is still in any way functional, it is dangerous – first, because its masters seek to force as many people as possible into dependence on a breaking system, and secondly, because this system actively opposes anyone who would create a safety net of alternative systems.
The Religious Right makes much of the sanctity of life, and opposes abortion and stem cell research because of concern for the sanctity of life. The Religious Right cites homosexuality as the prime example of a nation departing from the law of God, and actively opposes homosexuality on account of this. As I said in the post, “Fighting with Broken Weapons,” the Bible also opposes homosexuality and abortion. But the Bible also opposes fraud, robbery, swindling, cheating, murder, and the destruction of the earth – all sins committed for the sake of maintaining the present economic order which so many in the Right vigorously support. When figures in the Religious Right shout for “the economic growth which has made America strong!” one must wonder whether they realize what they are actually saying.
The Right has actively opposed illegal immigration. Their rhetoric and campaign literature makes it clear that they are not worried about Canadians sneaking across the border. Yet they have never considered why people from Mexico would want to flee to a better place. They might start by considering the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which was formulated by a Republican President, George H.W. Bush, along with Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, and was signed by them in 1992. This treaty, with its elimination of trade barriers such as tariffs, allowed globalist big business to destroy local economies in all three countries. But the destruction fell most heavily on the majority of Mexicans, who were poor to start with. As a result of NAFTA, thousands of poor Mexican farmers have been put out of business, and millions of Mexicans have been reduced to dependence on food imports from heavily subsidized American industrial agribusiness corporations. Now that the United States is foolishly turning its food crops into fuel for SUV’s, prices of imported American grains have risen beyond the reach of many poor Mexican families.
Also, the ejido system of communal farming which was revived in Mexico after their revolution has been increasingly co-opted by big multinational corporations, who have bought the land that was formerly reserved for poor peasant farmers to make a living. These things and others like them have reduced the ability of many in Mexico to be self-sufficient. These are things which degrade quality of life, and in some cases end life for poor people; yet the American Religious Right has been silent on this issue, preferring instead to agitate for the construction of a border fence. Evidently, the spokesmen for the Right are not concerned about the sanctity of these lives, having never had families who were starving, or children who were dangerously sick while there was no money for a doctor.
The Right has sought to disregard and discredit global climate change. What a coincidence it is that the Republican Party has taken this very same position! The manipulation of climate science by the Republicans is well documented (“Polar Bears on Parade,” Richard Bell, Global Public Media, 27 January 2007; “Will Climate Change Destroy the Atmosphere?”, Richard Bell, Global Public Media, 26 February 2007; http://www.globalpublicmedia.com/). Even President Bush, our supposedly “godly” leader, has been guilty (“Study Finds White House Manipulation on Climate Science,” Christian Science Monitor, 12 December 2007, www.csmonitor.com/2007/1212/p03s03-uspo.html).
But the science is becoming irrefutable. How many places over the last five years have been reporting “the warmest winters on record?” Why have both Australia and the American Southeast suffered through incredible drought? And this is just the beginning. There is a website by a lady named Sharon Astyk, http://sharonastyk.com/, where one can get a quick layman’s guide to where we are headed if we don’t do something about carbon emissions very soon. While I don’t agree with everything she says, we see eye-to-eye on this issue. But if you don't believe her, see what NASA scientist Dr. James Hansen has to provide (http://www.giss.nasa.gov/). Also note that the White House tried to silence him (New York Times, 29 January 2006, www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html). Global warming is not just some feel-good Boy Scout issue. Rather, we are in danger of wiping out most life on Earth. The harm is being felt first by the poor in the Third World.
The Right has consistently supported free trade and has opposed government intrusion or regulation of the free market. Yet this has been most beneficial to globalist, multinational corporations. A prime example is the agribusinesses briefly mentioned earlier. There is more to say about them, however. Through agencies like the World Trade Organization and agreements modeled after NAFTA and implemented elsewhere in the world, global agribusinesses have destroyed small local farming throughout the world, and have replaced local economies with their own global factory installations, seizing local land in the process. For information on this process in India alone, as well as the thousands of farmer suicides which have resulted from this, see the writings of Vandana Shiva at http://www.navdanya.org/.
Agribusinesses and the companies that supply them have aggressively sought to map genomes of seeds commonly used for food crops, so that they can then “patent” these seeds and charge royalties to farmers for growing crops from them. This is one reason for the aggressive push to introduce genetically-modified (GM) crops into the farming system. The problem is that these GM seeds are often carried by natural processes such as wind and animal movement into fields whose farmers do not use GM seeds. Then the agribusinesses sue the non-GM farmers for piracy or patent infringement. The Bush Administration has been supportive of genetic engineering of our food supply, going so far as to sue the European Union for restricting the use of GM seeds in its agriculture (“Why America’s Lawsuit Against the European Union is Highly Hypocritical,” Steven M. Druker, May 2004, http://www.saynotogmos.org/ud2004/umay04a.html; “A Monsanto History”, http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry94ba.html?recid=2675).
For that matter, the Bush Administration – that great supporter of the free market and opposer of government intervention – has been very active in intervening on behalf of big businesses against the poor, both in agriculture and in other areas, and both in the United States and abroad. There is the U.S. National Animal Identification System (NAIS), created ostensibly to protect the American food supply from terrorists, a system which just happens to have the side effect of driving small meat farmers out of business (“The National Animal Identification System,” Lynn Stuter, 6 June 2006, http://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter91.htm; “The Truth About the Animal ID Plan,” Mother Earth News, June/July 2007, http://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/2007-06-01/National-Animal-ID-System.aspx). There was also the case of Republican congressmen in 2006 who pushed for a crackdown on importation of low-cost generic Canadian drugs into the United States for use by sick people on fixed incomes, because the Republicans wanted to “guard against a terrorist attack.”
But the biggest example of Republican willingness to support a corrupt and unsustainable status quo is the Iraq War. This is the million-ton elephant in the room. Time would fail me if I tried to list all of the information showing that the war was started on a pretext, and that its main purpose was the stealing of Iraqi oil. I leave it to you, the readers, to search through the newspaper archives at your local libraries to find the published statements even before the war by senior officials in the CIA who expressed doubt that there was any connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda (but if you want something to chew on right now, here’s this – “Al Qaeda-Hussein Link Is Dismissed,” Washington Post, 17 June 2004, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html; “Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda,” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein_and_al-Qaeda). One of the clearest displays of American motivation for that war is the “Iraqi Oil Law” forced on the Iraqi parliament by the United States, which, if ratified, would allow foreign oil companies nearly total control of Iraqi oil.
Throughout the Iraq occupation the American Religious Right has called for unquestioning support of the war effort, as well as calling for pre-emptive strikes against Iran (a country that, coincidentally, also has oil). The Right has justified their position by vehemently warning of the threat posed to the West by Islamic extremism. Now, I want to assure you that I have no illusions about Islam; it is oppressive, deadly and cruel, truly a religion of the violent. But I would be more willing to accept the rhetoric of the Right if there wasn’t so much obvious self-interest in their agitation. Why, for instance, are they not as agitated about Islamic oppression in countries that have no oil? The American occupation of Iraq has resulted in the death of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions; yet no one seems to care about the sanctity of these lives.
The Religious Right is guilty of supporting a regime which exists solely to enrich the few at the expense of the many. They have therefore secured a regime which ostensibly supports the Biblical opposition of the Right to homosexuality and abortion, yet which violates the Biblical commands against lying (Exodus 20:16), oppression (Ezekiel 22:29; James 5:1-6) and the getting of riches by evil means (see James 5 again), while refusing charity to the poor (Luke 12:16-21; Luke 16:19-31). Yet these are the things to which they should have paid attention, without neglecting the others.
A few last words. While I have categorically criticized the Religious Right, I want to make it clear that not all evangelical Christians fall under this criticism. A refreshing example of a person who understands the Biblical concern with social justice is Justin Zoradi, formerly known as JZ in NI (http://jzinni.blogspot.com/). Although he no longer posts to his blog, it’s well worth a read. You may also want to check out the writings and life of Dr. Paul Brand, who as a missionary doctor discovered the neuropathic character of leprosy. And while I have heavily criticized the Republicans, the Democrats also have sins to confess. Indeed, many of their sins are the same as those of the Republicans. One day, God willing (and I believe He is), they also will get a well-deserved wood shampoo. (I say this even though I hope Barack Obama becomes our next President – sort of.)