Dan Keyserling, Cavalier Daily Viewpoint Writer
Angelique Sklavounos | Cavalier Daily
I HOPE and think that, by announcing their bigotry with pride and purpose, a subtle and sinister movement among Christian fundamentalist culture has been unmasked.
This past week, cult leader Michael Peter Woroniecki and his family stood outside Minor Hall and verbally assaulted students with messages of hatred and fanaticism. "You are all going to Hell!" and "Non-believers will be punished!" were among the permeating syllogisms that Elizabeth Woroniecki, Michael's indoctrinated daughter, shouted at me while I walked to class.
With their alarmist, apocalyptic messages, the label of "lunatic" came intuitively, but their lunacy doesn't begin to describe the disturbing character of Michael Woroniecki and his cronies. Andrea Yates -- a former follower of Woroniecki -- drowned her five children in her bathtub after being berated by Woroniecki that her children would "grow up and face certain judgment in hellfire." His detestable ranting has driven some followers to lives of bigotry and self-loathing reminiscent of the most zealous jihadists.
Amidst this psychosis exists a systematic infection of jingoism supported by creepy characters such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Falwell and Robertson each founded the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, respectively, two organizations largely responsible for moving despicable Christian fundamentalism into the mainstream. In his divine wisdom, Robertson has called for the assassination of democratically elected Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, vocally wished for a nuclear attack on the U.S. State Department, consistently promotes an idiotic "philosophy" of biblical literalism, has compared homosexuality to Satanism, equates feminism with practicing witchcraft, and agreed with the squealing bigot Falwell when Falwell publicly attributed the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians and the ACLU. While the Woronieckis are immediately identified as crazy, Robertson and Falwell escape the vision of insanity.Instead, they represent the mainstream embodiment of extremist ideals that are considerably more palatable.
These statements evoke images of the worst kind of totalitarian despotism, what could be righteously deemed an "axiom of evil." Many Falwell or Robertson supporters advocate a proto-fascist, theocratic state that bans certain books, music and art because they display images of the human body or otherwise run contrary to their agenda. Their brand of clericalist extremism poses a grave threat to American liberty and progressivism.
There are those who would credibly argue that Islamic fundamentalism -- the bin Ladenists and others -- pose a greater threat to American security. Speaking strictly of physical safety, they are correct -- Christian fundamentalists are not a prolifically violent crew.The threat posed by the fundamentalists is less of body counts and more of substantive policy changes resulting in the restriction of individual freedoms and human rights.While the jihadists violently attack symbols of American democracy, the Christian right aims to surreptitiously undermine civil liberties from within the legal and governmental system. Most Americans are fortuitous enough to identify Muslim extremism for what it is: Islamic fascism of the most heinous sort. But, Islamic extremists' numbers are too few and their tactics too alienating to expect success.Contrarily, Christian extremists are rarely identified as such, rather, they enjoy huge popular followings and syndicated television shows on major networks.If bin Laden and his followers truly want to change U.S. foreign policy, they should lay down their cloaks and rifles and don pinstripes and briefcases in order to conform with the other interest groups in Washington as the Christian right has done.
Nihilistic violence begets violence, but covert subjugation begets a genuine and enduring erosion of civil liberties. Through legitimate means, Christian extremists cleverly attempt to unite America behind the de-secularization of public education, banning of certain literature and media and the incorporation of Christianity into all nooks and crannies of America's diverse and free society.
Regrettably, there is no shibboleth for differentiating Christian fundamentalists and "mainstream Christianity" that preaches ideologies of love. But the delusions of Robertson and Woroniecki might be shared by perhaps hundreds of University students who believe the same mistruths as Robertson, only they keep them to themselves or only talk about them in groups of other "believers."
Those who hope to preserve the sanctity and security of our pluralist democracy must vigilantly oppose any display of fanaticism and sectarian bigotry, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Virginia. Fanatics won't always distinguish themselves with massive posters and fiery rhetoric.If the Woronieckis or Robertson whispered their hateful lies in private rather than shouting them in public, would skepticism prevail, or would we simply say, "Amen?"