THE MORAL OF THE STORY
Lou Dubose and Jan Reid's new book, THE HAMMER, a biography on House of Representatives Majority Whip Tom DeLay, is allegedly a story of God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress-and just how Tom DeLay took advantage of Newt Gingrich and fellow Texan Dick Armey's Republican ascendancy and became himself the most powerful man in the House of Representatives. We'll get into the "God part" a lot more than the money and political parts for now-but just to warn you, the King of Tyre (money) and the King of Babylon (political power) have a whole lot to do about this most interesting story.
This is all the more fascinating now that the powerful Congressman has collected a whole lot of chips from fellow Reps. for past support and, consequently, has gotten the House GOP caucus (Nov. 18, 2004) to vote to end its rule requiring leaders to step down if indicted (which it now appears that DeLay will be for past indiscretions brought against him in Texas). The political intrigue is mounting, big time!
Now, the plot of this political-religious thriller intensifies as the "moral of the story" is discovered-enter Tim LaHaye (kind of a neat little rhyme going on here with Tom and Tim, DeLay and LaHaye). You see, DeLay eventually walked right into an evangelical church that had gotten a whole lot more "politicized" by folks like LaHaye-so, when we get into the "God part" of DeLay, you'll understand why we brought LaHaye along.
Now, LaHaye will act as Chairman of the Board for Jerry Falwell's newly energized FAITH AND VALUES COALITION. The Faith and Values Coalition, according to the most beloved Baptist brother on the planet, the Rev. Barry Lynn (mouth for Americans United for the Separation of Church and State), is nothing more than "just another fund-raising vehicle." Furthermore, Lynn so abhors these religious/political efforts that he likens them to "an old horror movie-every time they bring Frankenstein's monster back, it just gets worse!"
One might be hearing "sour grapes" a bit-check out Barry's remarks, and comments on his remarks:
"Some things should be left dead and buried," Lynn said. He noted that recent analysis of election results debunked early claims that "values voters" re-elected President Bush. In fact, Lynn pointed out, voter's main concerns were terrorism, national security and the war in Iraq.
"The people do not share Jerry Falwell's repressive vision of an America where church and state are merged and the views of intolerant TV preachers form the basis of our laws," Lynn said. "I welcome Falwell's new organization to the debate. I feel confident it will meet the same fate as the Moral Majority." (see above for source)
Sure, I bet Lynn welcomes Falwell and LaHaye to the debate-I bet he just can't wait! Apparently, Falwell believes in the resurrection-I wonder if Barry does? But then, again, nothing like another "Son of Frankenstein" movie!
THE BOBSIE TWINS ? FIRST, LaHAYE
DeLay and LaHaye do have some interesting things in common. For one, they know how to wield political clout and marshal conservative religious forces in America, while amassing vast sums of money for their causes (most of which are mutual). LaHaye co-founded Falwell's original Moral Majority back in the late '70s. He and his wife, Beverly, started campaigning for pro-life causes through their Baptist marriage counseling company, Family Life Seminars. In 1979 Bev founded Concerned Women for America-a sort of counter weight to the National Organization for Women (NOW). Furthermore, LaHaye's famous "Left Behind" series-whose sales are off the charts, approaching (if not surpassing) over 100 million copies (and, catapulting the LaHaye's literary fortunes close to that same figure)-makes him one of the wealthiest evangelicals in America, if not the world.
Although Falwell held center stage in galvanizing conservative Christians to the polls and, ipso facto, to the Republican cause, LaHaye (as Falwell puts it) "ran under the radar." In 1981 LaHaye founded the Council for National Policy-claiming, at one time, some 600,000 members. In the 1980s, the CNP was quite the political/religious machine; spawning countless campaigns and organizations. Included among its members were Ed Meese, John Ashcroft, Pat Robertson and, of course Falwell-as well as key think tanks, and activists like Grover Norquist and Oliver North. A lot of the "right-wing jihad" against President Clinton in the 1990s was funded by CNP supporters like Texas oilman and silver manipulator, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Richard DeVos of Amway and beer magnate Joseph Coors (the same crowd that funded the contras in Central America).
Impeaching Clinton was allegedly conceived by the CNP in Montreal in June of 1997. Falwell touts the CNP for helping raise hundreds of millions for ventures like Liberty University (the second largest Evangelical Christian University in America-surpassed only by Baylor (Baptist) University in Waco, TX). President Bush attended a CNP meeting at the start of his 1999 presidential campaign, and Rumsfeld took part in the group's gathering last April in Washington, D.C. Republican political strategist, Paul Weyrich, once said: "Without [LaHaye], what we call the religious right would not have developed the way it did, and as quickly as it did."
Brother LaHaye took a severe fall when he was linked, along with wife Bev, in taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from the wacky would-be messiah Rev. Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church cult (which most Christians really do view as laughably heretical). When Moon got entangled with tax evasion charges, LaHaye came to his rescue. Then the "pay off monies" came out into the public-so, LaHaye tried to back off-but it was too late. By the time LaHaye tried to regroup, his reputation-along with another one of his organizations founded in the 1970s, The American Coalition for Traditional Values, flopped! But LaHaye did regroup-thanks to the multi-million dollar sales of Left Behind (see, he wasn't about to be Left Behind).
LaHaye's agenda mirrors that of Falwell's; and is the heart and passion of the so-called Religious Right in America. Restoring the Nation back to Absolute Values-family, pro-life (a.k.a., "the culture of life"), anti-abortion (just so you know what pro-life is), anti-gay agenda (the whole thing), pro-marriage (between Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve), pro-prayer in the public schools, pro-displaying of religious symbols and artifacts like the Ten Commandments wherever and whenever, strong "national defense" (as defined as "whatever it takes to get destroy the barbaric infidels"), etc., etc., etc.
NOT LEFT BEHIND ? JUST DeLAY (BOBSIE TWIN #2)
A little evangelical background on Rep. DeLay would be helpful . . . so, after a couple of terms in the Texas Legislature (after a rather lackluster business life as a pest control operator), DeLay made a move on the US Congress, running in the suburbs of Houston, TX and winning! He headed off to Washington as a freshman Rep. and led the charge against the NEA (National Endowment for the Arts)-and got a whole lot of fame for DEFUNDING THE LEFT (especially with the NEA's propensity to spend huge sums of money on absurd and even pornographic "art").
Notwithstanding the crusading efforts to purge the Left of its immoral efforts, DeLay himself had his own demons to corral. It was in the mid-1980s when the booze-drinkin' (similar to President Bush's story) DeLay rediscovered his Baptist roots and through a fellow Republican colleague, Frank Wolfe, was handed a tape by Dr. James Dobson-and the rest is evangelical history. DeLay claims he had a real born-again experience-much like President Bush. And, like Bush, eventually got involved in an "accountability group" compliments of the Promise Keepers; then, on to the Southern Baptist, avant-garde, Sugar Land First Baptist Church, where DeLay's A-A-mens could be easily heard, as Pastor Scott Rambo (who, as Dubose describes was "as charismatic and engaging as Bill Clinton at a town hall meeting") preached to the thousands who'd come each week to hear his "seeker-friendly" messages.
Yep, like President Bush, DeLay's faith has utterly energized his politics. Listen to DeLay's "mission statement" for America:
"To bring us back to the Constitution and to Absolute Truth that has been manipulated and destroyed by a liberal worldview." (p. 58 ? The Hammer)
BUSH, THE PATRICIAN vs. DeLAY, THE PLEBEIAN or
THE OIL MAN vs. THE BUG MAN
Continuing on with DeLay's evangelical roots (his political evolution and machinations are also really interesting-but later on those) . . .
Like Clinton, DeLay grew up in a dysfunctional home where his father was an alcoholic. He hailed from the "roughneck camps of the Texas oil patch-home to the guys who drilled the wells and ran the casing for the bullies who owned the royalties and ran the state. His patrimony was the sort of dysfunction that is the psychological and biological inheritance of the children of alcoholics." (p. 9 ? The Hammer).
On the other hand, Bush picked up the Texan drawl, but, let's face it, his family richly provided him an East Coast prep school, bachelor's degree from Yale, an MBA from Harvard-and, being the grandson of a U.S. senator and son of a vice president and president-man, maybe, after all, he was born with a "silver spoon" in his mouth. Whereas DeLay's background couldn't hold a candle to the patrician Bush. Nope, DeLay was through and through a plebeian (Roman for "dirt poor" compared to the aristocrats among the Romans called patricians.).
Bush was an oilman-and, frankly, not a very good one (so everyone knows)-but he had a deep well of never-ending resources through family-related investment capital. On the other hand, DeLay was a bug man. And, like Bush, not a very good one at that. Eventually, the rules and regs. of the EPA just about wiped out his business-and, that did it. "It's off to Congress I go"-so you wonder why the "counter-revolution" against the EPA, et al, continues to this day?
Right about the same time that DeLay was "finding Jesus" ? President Bush was doing the same-but under very different "evangelical environments." First of all, Bush's drinking habits were getting the best of him-and Laura had had it.
The time was ripe! However, Bush's "conversion experience" differed from DeLay's. When Bush, the prodigal son, returned home to the Maine compound in 1985, there was the Revered Billy Graham. They walked the grounds of Walker Point-the Bush family estate on the coast of Maine. Bush prayed with Graham and he "surrendered himself to Jesus." Returning back home in Midland, Bush joined a Bible Study "accountability group" that Laura also attended-eventually, he quit drinking.
In sum, Dubose describes the Bush and DeLay religious encounters as follows:
"DeLay had come up harder in all ways, all his life. He had absorbed enough Baptist teaching and upbringing to call himself a Christian, yet as he neared forty he knew he was a sinner. His road to Damascus was plebeian, and he choked in the dust of patricians like George Bush." (p. 53)
"When Tom DeLay fell to his knees before a video clip of James Dobson, he was not only born again in Christ, he was born again in Republican electoral politics. This is not to suggest that his motives were anything less than spiritual, but the result was political. Not only did his return to the church provide him the focus and discipline he lacked when he had been 'Hot Tub Tom' of 'Macho Manor' in Austin (you'll have to read the book to understand), DeLay immediately became part of a religious community that is also a political community. As a high-profile evangelical Christian, Tom DeLay connected to the Christian base without which the Republican Party cannot win national elections-and many state elections. Like George W. Bush, DeLay found Jesus at the precise moment in American political history when Jesus became a political asset. THE TIMING WAS SO PERFECT THAT THE NONBELIEVR IS LEFT TO WONDER IF IT JUST MIGHT HAVE BEEN GOD'S PLAN. (pp. 58-59 ? The Hammer) (Note: My emphasis upon the "secularist's remarks.)
There you have it-somehow, evangelicalism and politics-along with this guy, Tim LaHaye-found fertile ground in the Baptist soils of Texas. Two men from two completely different walks of life-at about the same time-got the "old time religion" and it has shaped how they look at America and the world-BIG TIME! Likewise, it has shaped how "Liberal America" thinks about them and about most "old time religion" in America-just in case you can't see where I'm going with this!
To be continued . . . but first, contemplate what John saw in the Revelation:
"I was astonished beyond astonishment (i.e. 'who would have ever thought it') when I saw the woman. And the angel said to me, 'Why are you flabbergasted, floored, amazed, and astonished beyond astonishment? Let me tell you about the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that supports her, who has the seven heads and the ten horns'" (Revelation 17:6b-7).
Tom & Tim
DeLay And LaHaye
By Doug Krieger
POLITICAL-RELIGIOUS CONVERGENCE-Delay ? Bush ? LaHaye ? Falwell & Rove
In the first part of our two-part series on TOM & TIM, we discussed a little about the history of Tom's evangelical background, and how his "evangelical conversion experience" turned his political journey in Republican Politics into a RELIGIOUS CRUSADE-i.e., his "conversion" had immediate political consequences.
Likewise, we discussed how President George Bush-also in the mid-1980s-received Christ through a variety of experiences, most importantly a time of prayer with Billy Graham at the Bush estate in Maine, and subsequent deliverance from alcoholism while attending a similar Charles Dobson-style accountability group (e.g., Promise Keepers), as did Tom DeLay at another "accountability group" and/or "Bible Study."
Incidentally, President Bush's conversion galvanized his lack-luster political career into a similar CRUSADE that ultimately landed him the White House in 2000 and a second term (2004) with the support-base he cultivated (as did/does DeLay) of the Religious Right. In particular-we drew attention to the special meeting with Bush and evangelical leaders who anointed him in the Texas Governor's mansion to pursue this "calling" on his life (please read the November Blog article).
Now, I brought in Tim LaHaye into this mix-introducing him with DeLay (not that they have any immediate "working relationship")-however, Tim's religious beginnings as "already converted to evangelical Christianity" are significant in that his journey into RELIGIOUS-POLITICS is the reverse of DeLay/Bush. LaHaye moves in power POLITICS from the POWER RELIGION perspective (LaHaye's one of the wealthiest evangelicals in the world); whereas, DeLay/Bush come into RELIGIOUS-POLITICS from the power POLITICS angle.
If you would-DeLay/Bush are "representative" of numerous politicians (including recent "convert" Karl Rove, Bush's political strategist par excel lance) who have entered POWER RELIGION (i.e., Meta-Churches and Ministries, like Liberty Baptist (Falwell), and Second Baptist in Houston, TX). Falwell said of Rove: "I have known Karl Rove for many years and I am greatly impressed with his wisdom, dedication to President Bush and his love for Jesus Christ." (Interesting? Bush first, Jesus second?)
APOSTASY ? "CREATINE CHRISTIANITY MIXED WITH GLUTAMINE GOVERNMENT"
Recent scandals of anabolic steroid use by professional sports in the USA and abroad is tricky business. For one, if you're going to super-size your capabilities, you've got to do it on the sly, viz., hire a personal trainer who knows how to use "designer" drugs which can enhance your so-called performance on the field. These growth hormones that Barry Bonds and other athletes are accused of using, are, figuratively, a lot like the current stream of "Creatine Christianity" and its muscle enhancer, "Glutamine Government." (Note: Creatine and Glutamine "enhance" muscle strength, stamina and size.)
I'm not saying that it's ultimate product is Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I am saying that when you "inflate" Christianity with spiritually "illegal drugs" in your game, you're going to get a beefed up brand of Christianity that, with "Glutamine Government" enhancers, will slamdunk the scrawniest Arab into the sand.
Now, what makes American Creatine Christianity and Glutamine Government so "illegal" in the eyes of the Almighty is that ALMIGHTY DOLLAR; i.e., the ultimate intoxicant or the CATALYST/STIMULANT where the two find common ground (without which neither Religion and Politics could ever merge and/or find common cause).
Again, in its purest form-i.e., the best "creatine" and the best "glutamine" that can be ASSIMILATED by the "Religio-Body Politic" will result in what the Bible calls APOSTASY. Yes, you'll get results (e.g., home runs, olympic records, etc.) if "results" is what you're looking for. So, today's Christianity has, again and again-though they would vehemently deny it-injested this "witches' brew" of Apostasy because it works; results are awesom and the fans love it (e.g., attendance is up, salaries are up, scores are up, and the money's rollin' in). And, best of all, turns out that BIGGER IS BETTER! Bigger Churches, bigger salaries, bigger programs, and, as it turns out, more patriotism to boot!
THE MORAL HIGH GROUND-WHO'S GOT IT?
Ronnie Earle, the district attorney for Travis County, Texas, recently came out with a strident op. ed. piece in the New York Times entitled: "Tom DeLay: A moral indictment."
Earle, a Democrat, has tried some 15 elected officials in his 26-year tenure (12 Democrats and three Republicans)-DeLay appears to be the next if the local Grand Jury finds sufficient evidence to bring DeLay's indiscretions to court.
Earle's Times' piece hits on the issue of "MORAL VALUES." Humm . . . I wonder what Earle's alluding to here? Could it possibly be that Tom DeLay's "moral crusade" to purge the Republican Party of those compromising moderate Republicans and them Democrats (the whole bunch of them) bears a casual allusion to DeLay's evangelical zeal to rid the Congress of all who aspire to gay marriage, pro-choice (a.k.a., "abortion on demand"), "In God We Trust," school prayer, creationism in the curriculum, etc.?
This little cactus critter from Texas is not about to have "moral issues" the exclusive purview of the Republican Party:
"Last week Congressional Republicans voted to change their rule that required an indicted leader to relinquish his post (Earle's op.ed. is dated 23 Nov. 04). They were responding to an investigation by the Travis County grand jury into political contributions by corporations that has already resulted in the indictments of three associates of Mr. DeLay, the House majority leader.
"Every law enforcement officer depends on the moral values and integrity of society for backup; they are like body armor. The cynical destruction of moral values at the top makes it hard for law enforcement to do its job.
"In terms of moral values, this is where the rubber meets the road. The rules you apply to yourself are the true test of your moral values.
"There is no limit to what you can do if you have the power to change the rules. Congress may make its own rules, but the public makes the rule of law, and depends for its peace on the enforcement of the law. Hypocrisy at the highest levels of government is toxic to the moral fiber that holds our communities together.
"The open contempt for moral values by our elected officials has a corrosive effect. It is a sad day for law enforcement when Congress offers such poor leadership on moral values and ethical behavior. We are a moral people, and the first lesson of democracy is not to hold the public in contempt." (Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company)
DeLay's "Creatine-style Christianity" (a.k.a., "POWER RELIGION" or "MORAL VALUES" ? so-called) has apparently gotten Earle's goat.
Like DeLay, Karl Rove, et. al., have cleverly inserted these "designer enhancers" into the religio-political system to produce today's Republican majority-to the chagrin of the Democrats, who, for the life of them, can't figure out how it works (or from time to time they think they've spotted these anabolic steroids and are about to unleash scores of trial lawyers in pursuit of this phony and SHAMLESS grab for power!).
In desperation some Democrats are actually recommending a "come to Jesus" campaign on the part of the outflanked Democrats. I mean, it works, right?
"First, when a candidate stresses moral values in every speech, every television commercial, every day for a year, it should be no surprise that when voters are asked why they voted for him, they will reply 'moral values.' If George W. Bush had put as much effort into 'eat your spinach,' some people would have given that reason for supporting the president.
"Second, Republican strategists began in 2000 and continued in 2004 a skillful effort to equate moral values to Christian values, and within that category to mean conservative Christianity, largely of the evangelical brand.
"The Republican Party captured the Cross in 2000 and the Flag on 9/11, two of the three classic American values ? the third, Mom's Apple Pie, is now available at Wal-Mart." ("Christians and Karl Rove hold no monopoly on values" ? Floyd J. McKay, The Seattle Times Company)
(Please link to: http://www.the-tribulation-network.com/dougkrieger/delay_lahay.htm for graphics/links/remainder of article.)
Doug is a member of Last Days Network, a team of evangelical writers whose news and reviews appear on numerous blog sites throughout the USA and the world. Religion and politics are joined at the hip... and more so in the USA... what is going on here anyway?