Deloria on the religious right

“An increasing number of Americans have become members of the religious right, the fundamentalists. As mainline churches lose members rapidly through their constant efforts to pander to the unchurched and make themselves relevant, mindless fundamentalism makes amazing strides, even among the educated people in society.

When the fundamentalists seized on abortion as an issue, they found the key to political power. Thus was created the irony of modern American life. The fundamentalists could care less about human life after birth. They unquestioningly accept American military ventures around the world and cry for more blood with each invasion or carpetbombing of small countries. They steadfastly support the death penalty and see nothing wrong with its one-sided application to racial minorities…Yet on the abortion issue they wax eloquent about the sanctity of human life as if their salvation depends on it.

Thus, through nearly two decades while American Indians were rediscovering the integrity of their traditional religious, the rest of American Society has torn itself and its religious traditions apart, substituting patriotism and hedonism for old values and behaviors.”

– Vine Deloria, Jr., God is Red: A Native View of Religion, 57

The trouble with this analysis is the assumption that these inconsistencies occur only within the Religious Right (though this may have been closer to the case in 1994 than in 2012). Americans believe in life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for all people, except if you happen to be Pakistani and show up at a “terrorist’s” funeral, for one example.


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