Burch: Family values or folly?

Friday, January 6, 2012 at 7:04pm
By Michael R. Burch

Middle Tennessee may exert an unexpected force on the coming presidential elections, but will it be a force for family values or sheer, unmitigated folly?

Nashville is the buckle of the Bible belt — being home to both the Southern Baptists and also to the center of Christian music and book publishing. What is said and done here in Christian circles soon ripples out to stir (and often muddy) waters elsewhere. Today Tennessee is ringing with effusive praise for Rick Santorum, from people like Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. But if we examine the actual “ethics” of the SBC — ethics largely shared by Santorum, a conservative Catholic — the reality seems wormier than any rotten apple.

Santorum’s success in Iowa has been attributed to his popularity with conservative Christians, who preach a muddled message of “family values” while doing their dead-level best to ruin the family lives of gays, legal immigrants with darker skin tones, Muslims, union workers, teachers, the elderly, the sick, the unemployed, and nearly everyone else who isn’t a well-off white conservative Christian.

Conservative Christians like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Santorum also preach “fiscal responsibility” while in reality sending the nation to the brink of insolvency by insisting that the U.S. must always support Israel despite its often horrendous racism. Israel’s system of apartheid and ethnic cleansing, some contend, led directly to 9/11 and two nation-bankrupting wars.

Since the U.S. has provided Israel with many billions in financial aid, advanced weapons and shared military technology, much of the Muslim world understandably sees the U.S. as a wildly hypocritical, very dangerous nation intent on the subjugation of their loved ones. So many Muslims look to men like Osama bin Laden, because they strongly oppose the injustices of Israel and its superpower patron. In effect, Conservative Christians drive more and more Muslims into the ranks of the extremists, just as past racial injustices once drove Native Americans to the warpath.

Like Gingrich, Santorum has made the incredibly racist claim that the Palestinian people don’t even exist. In a taped interview, which can be viewed on YouTube, Santorum said, “All the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no Palestinian. This is Israeli land.” This is like saying, “Native Americans were never fully united, so we have the right to deny their existence, steal their land via apartheid and ethnic cleansing, and treat millions of completely innocent women and children like dirt beneath our feet.”

As we all know, such thinking in the past led to massacre after massacre, as men like Sitting Bull refused to see their women and children so degraded. When such thinking was employed against African-Americans, it led to the Civil War, which left millions of Americans dead, mutilated, destitute and/or homeless. Today such thinking threatens the very existence of our nation, because we simply cannot afford to wage war against the Muslim world, on evil and false premises.

Like Palin and Bachmann, Santorum has discussed bombing Iran. That could lead to another war, a global oil crisis, an even worse impasse with nearly two billion Muslims, and perhaps even to World War III. Unfortunately, a vote for “family values” in reality may be a vote for exactly the opposite. If we care about our families, we should vote for equality, tolerance and peace, and against racism, intolerance and war.

If we’re still not smart enough to see people like Palin, Bachmann, Gingrich and Santorum for who they really are, God help us all.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

Filed under: City Voices
Tagged: Michael Burch

29 Comments on this post:

By: Loner on 1/6/12 at 8:57


By: yogiman on 1/6/12 at 9:49

Well, Mike,

If you aren't a "well-off" white conservative Christian, which of the other categories of people describes you? Since you're belittling the conservative Christians I can only presume you are one of the others you named.

Once again, you belittle Israel with sanctions of your own so I must presume you aren't a Jew of the Jewish faith.

We are each entitled to our own opinion on every matter on this earth as long as we live on it, Mike. But too many think all others should think as they do. I call them people with superior attitudes, not superior minds.

If we all had the same ideas and had the same way of thinking, it would sure be a strange world, wouldn't it?

I'm glad I think as I do, don't you? Or are you only glad you think as you do?

By: treehugger7 on 1/7/12 at 7:39

Yogi has neither!

By: yogiman on 1/7/12 at 8:27

Neither of what?

By: BenDover on 1/7/12 at 9:32

I read this wondering whether Burch was building this huge polarized straw man to make some political statement or if he's really been sold on all of this as a member of the liberal kool-aid drinking under-dog worshiping faithful. After reading him for several months now I'm inclined to believe the latter.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/7/12 at 9:50

As a recovering Southern Baptist I understand what Mike Burch is speaking of. It is the only reason I left the shadowy world of organized religion. What is being taught in the churches today is not what was practiced by the first Christians. Christ has become a Rambo figure to many.

By: Captain Nemo on 1/7/12 at 10:28

Santorum claims to be a Christian, but it is evident that his type of Christianity is founded in Old Testament severity and not the charitable Jesus. In fact, it is difficult to find any of Jesus Christ’s teachings in Santorum’s style of Christianity. What is evident, is that Santorum hates gays, a woman’s right to choose their own reproductive health, African Americans, and any group that does not adhere to evangelical fundamentalism. A more apropos label for Santorum is a hateful conservative that aligns him with the rest of the Republicans; except the former Pennsylvania senator says in public what other Republicans keep under their hats.


By: Captain Nemo on 1/7/12 at 10:31

Rambo Rick?

One of Jesus Christ’s famous messages to his followers was to seek peace, and he famously told Peter that those who “live by the sword, will perish by the sword.” Santorum said if he was president, he would bomb Iran to deal with their attempt to acquire or develop nuclear weapons. He said that bombing Iran would prevent a war, but perhaps his brand of Christianity prevents him from understanding that bombing is war. It is possible, that Santorum the Christian is enamored with the idea of killing innocent Muslims.

By: pswindle on 1/7/12 at 12:56

America is the land of the free and that includes free thinking. I do not want any church or person making decisions about my personal life. What is this about Rick and birth control and abortions? There might be a prison term if you do either. I do not want him making decisons for me.

By: yogiman on 1/7/12 at 1:31

There are two-fold arguments on birth control. For some American, having children is like doing your work at home. If the woman isn't married, they draw welfare. Many "couples" live together and have babies for the welfare check because if the "husband" is working the "guvmunt" ain't gonna givum no money.

It takes less effort to draw welfare than work for you benefits.

Years ago during the depression, the government set up "pick and shovel" jobs for the men to earn their pay. The men back then didn't want government handouts.

There should be a limit on how many children a parent can receive welfare on. When that limit is reached the "parent" should be "fixed". Have fun, but you ain't gonna get payed for it.

By: pswindle on 1/8/12 at 12:31

Huntsman is the only sane one running for presdient on the GOP ticket. I have never seen such a bunch of losers. Mitt is so fake wih his mellow practiced voice.

By: yogiman on 1/8/12 at 1:32

He sounded good and made good sense, but he was on Obama's ticket as Ambassador to China. Why did he accept it? That isn't too god of a ticket to use.

By: pswindle on 1/8/12 at 10:05

Why should he not have acceped the position? That's what you called working for the betterment of the country. Working together is the name of the game.

By: yogiman on 1/8/12 at 10:44

Working together is the name of the game... except in politics.

By: dargent7 on 1/9/12 at 5:11

A Goddamn, righteous, LTE.
There's no doubt, no question, if anyone of these mental midgets in the Republixican Party gain entrance into the White House their 1st order of business is to bomb Iran.
Then before the 1st crucial "100 days in office", overturn Roe v. Wade and make abortion a criminal act, a felony, "lying in wait" circumstances, punishable by 15years in prison.
( I know for fact Newty get's a "Woody" thinking about that one).
All this insanity before the new paint has dried and the carpet layers finished nailing the thing down. And System Pro got that horrific stank from BW Bush & Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld out of the Oval Office.

By: Ummm... on 1/9/12 at 5:55

Hypocrisy has been the Republicans' middle name ever since the days of the so-called "moral majority" and the heyday of Ralph Reed. Up to now, their shell game of saying one thing and doing the opposite has been bought by the masses to a disgusting degree (electing G.W. Bush twice- once legally). But just maybe the general public has begun to realize whose side these bastards are really on- at least I hope so.

By: dargent7 on 1/9/12 at 6:32

We have met the enemy, and he is us..."
I don't know how DNA can get so screwed up and yet this group of miscreants look just like us. They blend in. Rod Serling had nothing on the Replubican party. Scarey.

By: brrrrk on 1/9/12 at 10:40

Captain Nemo said

"As a recovering Southern Baptist I understand what Mike Burch is speaking of. It is the only reason I left the shadowy world of organized religion. What is being taught in the churches today is not what was practiced by the first Christians. Christ has become a Rambo figure to many."

I'm with you..... although I had my doubts even during my catechism classes as a youngster. This in spite of the fact that my parents took to me the church every Sunday. Of course, I was also the kid in 7th grade who wrote an English paper entitled "Is Religions a Social Crutch?" Got an "A", by the way. :-)

By: brrrrk on 1/9/12 at 10:42

Holy crap! I apparently need more coffee!!

I kant tipe wirth a dam.....

By: Little Dummy on 1/9/12 at 11:14

Halleujuah!, Banzai! and congratulations to ME. After trying off and on for over
two years I finally managed to navigate the extremely difficult process of
logging in. The CP needs to make it simpler to log in to express opinions
and let US make up our own passwords instead of giving us one that no
one could EVER memorize.

After all this I forgot what I wanted to day but I'll be back.

By: brrrrk on 1/9/12 at 11:20

Santorum is a religious extremist....

When Opus Dei celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of their founder St. Josemaria Escrivá in 2002, it was Santorum that they called to speak at the occasion.

By: Little Dummy on 1/9/12 at 11:30

Seems if you print something against Congressman Cooper it won't
be posted.

By: Mike Burch on 1/9/12 at 8:18


I am not really affiliated with any political or religious group. I do, however, believe in the same basic principles as people like Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. Those principle are basically, "Live and let live. Don't let one group of people have superior rights to other people. Don't create a false morality and let it be used by hypocritical Puritans to make other people's lives miserable. Seek peace, not war."

Right now there is no evidence of any such principles being followed by the Republican party or conservative Christians, so that tends to make me seem anti-Republican and anti-conservative-Christian, because I think principles are important. If we have the wrong goals as a country, we are likely to head in the wrong direction as a country. When we are honest and examine the things that let to 9-11 and two decade-long wars, it's easy to see the true cost of practicing hypocrisy and injustice as a nation.


By: Mike Burch on 1/9/12 at 8:22


I was a Republican most of my adult life, but I have a brain and know how to use it. When I saw that the Republican party had lost it senses, being sane myself I chose to change sides.

You can talk about "straw men" but if we examine the actual beliefs and actions of Republican politicians today, they seem like the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, only not as smart, because at least he knew that he lacked a brain.


By: Mike Burch on 1/9/12 at 8:25


I call myself a "recovering fundamentalist." The Southern Baptist church was founded on bigotry (Northern Baptists were opposed to slaveowners being missionaries) and today it preaches bigotry against GLBTs and Muslims (particularly Palestinians who suffer under the racist thumb of Israel). Since 9-11 was largely the result of Jewish and Christian oppression of Palestinians, one might suggest that the SBC and other conservative Christian churches were at least partly responsible for 9-11 and both wars.


By: yogiman on 1/9/12 at 8:58


Religiously, we all have our separate beliefs. But of course, the "churchers" think everyone else should believe as they do. Hasn't any of them wondered why there is so many different religions? Which brings the question: Which one's right?

The politics of the US today are pretty much like religion: My party's the right one for our nation, y'all come on and become members of my party. I honestly can't tell much difference between the two.

It seems they have become a loving couple and got married in the communist "church".

By: Mike Burch on 1/10/12 at 2:02


I would like to believe that the United States is a nation founded on ideals:


Obviously we have lost our way at times:

The Trail of Tears
American Slavery
Today, the Nakba ("Catastrophe") of the Palestinians, which led to 9-11 and two horrendous, unnecessary wars

To me, any religion that allows completely innocent women and children to suffer and die prematurely is a false religion. So I think the religion of the Republican party is a false religion. Conservative Christians ignore everything that Jesus did himself, such as caring for the poor, sick and the downtrodden. Ironically, they believe in Darwinism: the survival of the strongest.


By: Mike Burch on 1/10/12 at 2:14


Huntsman has called for an expanded drone system of extrajudicial assassinations, so I'm not convinced that he is an improvement on the other Republican warmongers.

But then President Obama continues to allow drone attacks and night raids in Afghanistan and Pakistan. How would Americans feel, if China used drones and night raids to keep Americans in line?


By: spooky24 on 1/12/12 at 10:17

Michael, I don't really care about your politics nor my own for that matter. I have grown old enough to understand how precious time is and not to waste it in unsolvable debate.
However, I do have something that might interest you. Perhaps you are aware that starting last summer and continuing into 2013 over 4 million declassified CIA documents are being dumped into the National Archives. That is dumped as in dump truck as these never ending boxes of mind numbing generalities and useless trivia have no index's and are in no order what so ever. Few surprises have come from these monoliths of paper except to give rock solid proof of things that took place in the late 60's that have been suspected since that time. One being JFK and RFK's invasion and coup plan for Cuba that was to take place on December 1'st 1963. As we all know those plans were aborted by JFK's assassination.
One thing that has been pointed out to me(and there is paper proof) is that your 'Drones' have been around a hell of a lot longer than anyone will admit to. Primitive versions of these super secret intelligence gathering machines and some equipped with destructive bombs go all the way back to 1979 in one version or another. What has shocked me-and that takes quite a bit when dealing with the government-is a memo of a top notch CIA meeting that took place in Newfoundland with the subjects being CIA secret drones and the downing of TVA Flight 800.


Yup that is what it was about. No plausible explanation has ever satisfied myself about this tragedy. I guess the fuel tanks could explode however I really don't buy it. Now we find out that neither the Navy nor the Air Force were close enough to down the big airliner but the CIA had a drone base just off the coast!!

Interesting isn't it.

Anyway, though you might get a kick out of that.