Friday, April 13, 2007

The Red and The Black: Regent Grads of the World, Unite!

Paul Krugman brings up an interesting point about the current attorney purge scandal: the widespread hiring of Regent U. (Pat Robertson's private university) grads to important positions in the Bush administration.

For God’s Sake, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: In 1981, Gary North, a leader of the Christian Reconstructionist movement — the openly theocratic wing of the Christian right — suggested that the movement could achieve power by stealth. “Christians must begin to organize politically within the present party structure,” he wrote, “and they must begin to infiltrate the existing institutional order.”

Today, Regent University, founded by the televangelist Pat Robertson to provide “Christian leadership to change the world,” boasts that it has 150 graduates working in the Bush administration.

Unfortunately for the image of the school, ... the most famous of those graduates is Monica Goodling a product of the university’s law school... who appears central to the scandal of the fired U.S. attorneys...

The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda — which is very different from simply being people of faith — is one of the most important [and underreported] stories of the last six years... (h/t:

One of Krugmans important points is that last paragraph ("The infiltration of the federal government by large numbers of people seeking to impose a religious agenda — which is very different from simply being people of faith"). People of faith are not necessarily interested in power, though they may believe in a higher power, nor do they use--and I mean use in the basest way--their belief in a higher power to determine hiring practices and legal agendas.

So what makes this rather striking proclivity for the Bush administration to hire Regent U's grads so interesting?

To me it is not at all that many of the supposed "good Christians" sinned, lied and cheated; they are merely human after all. Rather, what I find interesting is something I have felt all along: that the Christian Right is less a movement based on faith, but faith in a movement--a movement that will allow you social mobility. In an administration that embues "faith-based" organizations with power and money (hiring practices from Ashcroft on down, posting Robertson's charity at the top of the list on FEMA's website following Katrina...), such institutions become important means to social promotion.

This has been happening increasingly since the College Republicans and the Christian Coalition of the 1980's began using a theocratic litmus test, and social promotion within those organizations have matured to the present day. How do we know that they have reached their maturity? Simple, we can see the fruits of the movement coming into positions of power. That these fruits are many times quite corrupt (Reed, Goodling, Ashcroft and many, many more) is just evidence that the "Christian" Right's movement is a tool for social promotion in which certain behaviors (quoting the Bible, for example) allow you in to the movement, while other behaviors (ruthless, cold, backstabbing Republican-party fidelity) get you promoted within it.

The Catholic Church has long been this way, as have many other religious cults. Just read The Red and the Black. Julien Sorel could quote the Bible by heart--that's exactly how he works his way up the social ladder and into the beds of women (married to powerful men).