Monday, May 25, 2009

Religious Right Growing Sillier, Sadder Each Day

The right-wing, dynastic Liberty University finally decided to ban the campus Democratic Party club last week. Yep, "Liberty" University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, is officially a one-party zone. OK, right off the bat two questions jump out: There's a Democratic club at Liberty University? What took them so long to stamp it out?

The university administration, headed by president Jerry Falwell Jr. (the family just keeps giving, just keeps serving), sent the club an email saying the Democratic club had to stop using the university's name, holding meetings on campus, and advertising events. In other words, it cannot exist as a student organization.

Can someone with a better vocabulary please give me a word that means appalling, hilarious, and pitiful all at the same time?  (UPDATE: "Redonkulous" Thanks Becky!)

The university administration offers abortion policy as the main reason for the ban. They say,"We cannot remain silent when the political policies or politicians themselves promote the destruction of innocent human life."

They cannot remain silent, so they bravely silence college students. There's no word yet that the Republican Party club has been banned from campus. I guess that Republican politicians sometimes saying that abortion should be illegal while they increase the poverty, hopelessness, and fear that make many people seek it is good enough for Liberty.

You simply cannot be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time, according to Liberty. The vice president of student affairs wrote, "The Democratic Party platform is contrary to the mission of Liberty University and to Christian doctrine." I agree it's probably contrary to the mission of Liberty University (spreading right-wing propaganda and denying evolution and climate change etc.), but saying it's "contrary to Christian doctrine" is, well, precisely wrong and intentionally narrow-minded. The social darwinism of the Republican Party is what's contrary to Christian doctrine. Fend-for-yourself, greed-is-good conservatism is contrary to Christian doctrine. But Liberty cannot handle that discussion, so they are trying to shut it down. It's a favorite tactic of the religious right in general (see personal story below).

Anyway, I've not seen any reporting on why the university is doing this now. Maybe it's because Liberty and the Falwell-brand of politics is becoming more and more irrelevant, and they need to do something to get attention. The country has changed, and the hated Democrats and the progressive movement are on the march. Maybe Liberty wanted to find someplace where they could win even a symbolic victory and they simply looked down at their own campus and saw the little Democratic club. The article that broke the story mentions that LU "recently completed a policy that would govern clubs and organizations on campus." Was the Democratic club the only organization which the new policy led them to ban? I wouldn't be surprised. 

The [redonkulousness] of this story reminds me of something from my own college days. I went to a big public university where I started a Christian Democrats student club to organize Christian students around progressive causes. It went well. True, a lot of conservatives lost control at the very idea of the club and screamed in our faces. But our numbers grew and we got our message out.

One of the classic stories is the time I got "rebuked" by a Christian friend who went to the same campus church I did. He called me up one day and said I needed to shut down the Christian Democrats club and ask God's forgiveness. I laughed. "Galen, I appreciate your concern for me. But forgiveness for what exactly?" I asked. When he saw that the conversation was heading toward specific doctrines and policies, he retreated. He didn't actually want to have a discussion. He wanted a symbolic victory that would make him feel good. Kind of like the Falwell gang at Liberty University.


Amy said...

That is indeed silly, sad, appalling and pathetic (we'll have to wait for Becky to give us a word). I am curious, like you said, as to what their motivation is to do this now. And what purpose does it really serve? Wouldn't a Christian university want its young people fleshing out how their faith and politics intersect? Even if they disagree? They COULD be helping facilitate debate and discussion. Well if they wouldn't want it, they should.

I'm not pro-choice, but I'm not threatened by people that are. Silencing them doesn't make what I believe any more true--I believe it's true and worth advocating no matter what.

I don't know the whole story here behind what went on at Liberty, but I don't think this is the approach Jesus would take. Heck--it's NOT the approach he took. Thanks for this post, Dave!

Camp Papa said...

I nominate a new coinage that might be appropriate: assipompdiculas. A portmaneau consisting of asinine (with an extra "s" for more assness), pompous, and ridiculous.

Becky said...

Sorry it took me so long to get here. The word you are looking for is "redonculous."

Or just "redonk" for short.

It's for when something is so ridiculous that mere ridicule won't get the job done.

I remember some stories, years ago, about the startling number of Liberty U grads working as political appointees in the Bush administration. Wasn't one of them heavily involved in the Alberto Gonzalez/DA firing scandal? The point is, I don't think Liberty is a very good school.

Better Than Machines said...

Asimpompdiculous? Points for creativity, but too many syllables!

Redonculous? I think I can work with this! I just hope it captures the silly/pitiful angle I'm trying to portray.

Points to everyone for the quick responses. Good job, team.

I put "Liberty" in quotes in one place in this post. I should probably also put "University" in quotes. I doubt there's much pondering and inquiry going on at LU. I think it's mainly a training ground for Falwell Republicans and a mouthpiece for the "Moral Majority" message. Liberty and Regent (that's the Pat Robertson one) were both heavily represented in the Bush administration. I think it was a Liberty grad overseeing some of the illegal political hiring/firing at the Justice Dept.

In Virginia, a few Dem politicians have asked LU to reinstate the club. But I've been surprised how subdued the reaction has been. That's probably because it's such a predictable move based on what we know about LU. Like I said... why was this club not banned before last week?