Monday, January 31, 2005

Bill Moyers - Oblivious to the Facts

Yesterday, I read something from that veritable icon of media gravitas, Bill Moyers. It was an article he wrote for the Star Tribune, called There is no tomorrow. In writing it, I think he unintentionally provided an amusing bit of irony.

The article was published on the day of an important election, in which people struggling to achieve freedom battled fundamentalist religionists who sought violently to keep them in anti-democratic repression. Moyers did indeed write about the danger to freedom presented by fundamentalists. The problem was, while most of the world saw the Islamic fundamentalists kidnapping and killing people in Iraq as the serious threat of the moment, Moyers’ warnings were about fundamentalist Christians in the U. S.

He wasn’t terribly careful to confine his criticism to a thin sect of believers either. Oh, he did make a half-hearted attempt at singling out Rapture believers. But he merely used some of their specific beliefs to smear conservative Christians in general:

“As Grist makes clear, we're not talking about a handful of fringe lawmakers who hold or are beholden to these beliefs. Nearly half the U.S. Congress before the recent election -- 231 legislators in total and more since the election -- are backed by the religious right.”

And lest you think this was a careless slip, he continues:

“A 2002 Time-CNN poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe that the prophecies found in the book of Revelations are going to come true. Nearly one-quarter think the Bible predicted the 9/11 attacks. Drive across the country with your radio tuned to the more than 1,600 Christian radio stations, or in the motel turn on some of the 250 Christian TV stations, and you can hear some of this end-time gospel. And you will come to understand why people under the spell of such potent prophecies cannot be expected, as Grist puts it, "to worry about the environment. Why care about the earth, when the droughts, floods, famine and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the rapture? And why care about converting from oil to solar when the same God who performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes can whip up a few billion barrels of light crude with a word?"”

Did you catch that 59 percent number? What do you think Moyers thinks about these 59 percent of his fellow citizens? He offers some words directly speaking to that earlier in his article:

“When ideology and theology couple, their offspring are not always bad but they are always blind. And there is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.”

The irony was surely unintentional, but it is nonetheless poignant. On the day when a conservative Christian president saw his commitment to bringing freedom to Iraq vindicated, Bill Moyers speculated whether conservative Christians in America are bad for democracy. Can we say out of touch? On the wrong side of history? And, to turn Moyers own phrase back upon him, “oblivious to the facts”?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doug, when I read that Moyers article in the Strib, my jaw dropped. I know LOTS of strong, Christian believers - and none have communicated to me that they hold some of the more "out there" beliefs that Moyers seems to believe characterizes today's believers.

I'll bet that Moyers is not alone, however. And these sorts will continue to demonize those who have traditional faith; their best bet to "shout down" the other side as the Moyers' sorts keep on losing.

Pretty pathetic - and, on such a momentous day for freedom, too, as you so well highlighted.

Peg K

2:59 PM  
Blogger R-Five said...

My jaw dropped also, and I'll have my own post Thursday. Glad to see someone else saw it, too.

10:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Growing up RC around bible thumpers they are waiting for one billion mackeral snappers to be left to wander the world after rapture. They are fucking lunatics. WAKE UP!!!

8:29 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Well I grew up RC around "Bible thumpers" too. Had a wonderful family of evangelical neigbors including their evangelical minister father, other family friends who were Mormon, and I'd walk over broken glass for the Easter pastries our Greek Orthodox friends brought over every year. We didn't always theologically agree, but I think I'll pass on freaking out about their nefarious nature. And I'm pretty sure I'm writing this while already awake.

9:39 PM  

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