Rejecting the Binary: Why Left v. Right Doesn’t Work

It is easy to say that the “religious right” opposes the “secular left,” but what about the simple fact that many on the right are not religious, and many on the left are? The right-left division is ultimately reductionist—religion infuses discussions surrounding this divide, and is reduced in kind.

Philosopher Karin Fry’s  new book, Beyond Religious Right and Secular Left Rhetoric: The Road to Compromise explores the positions commonly advocated by culture war adversaries, searching for opportunities for reconciliation.

RD’s Eric C. Miller spoke with Fry about her project.

Much of your work has focused on philosophers like Arendt, Lyotard, and Kant, but recently you’ve been studying contemporary culture war debates. What inspired that interest?

In some ways, I just fell into it. I was asked to do something about religion for an on-campus event and the reaction was so positive, it inspired me to continue. However, I have increasingly become interested in political discourse, since students are overwhelmed by it. In my teaching, I found that students would mimic whatever pundits were currently saying about a topic, without really thinking about it.

Hannah Arendt in particular is a thinker who recognized the danger of this, and even though she does not discuss religious topics at any length, my book fits nicely with some of her views. She believed in legitimate differences of opinion in politics and the importance of maintaining venues for discussion and disagreement. In my classes, I think it is very important to give students resources for negotiating the flow of information to help them think for themselves.

It does seem that much of our political discourse has been reduced to an exchange of overheard talking points. I wonder if you could speak to the danger this poses, and how Arendt has influenced your approach. Are there any particular issues or debates that you find especially troubling?

I think what is most troubling is the massive amount of false information that is distributed by political operatives and marketers that is accepted as true.

Sometimes it takes a great deal of effort to research an issue and find out the complexities about it. With a sound bite culture, the facts become obscured and people make decisions based upon falsehoods and superficial understandings of an issue.

Often, people think that if they find out the facts a clear-cut answer will emerge, but more often than not, further examination shows the legitimacy of more than one position on the issue. Arendt worried about people talking in stock phrases and clichés rather than trying to think through an issue. The road to totalitarianism relies on lack of discussion and operatives who will accept the party line, rather than question it.

Walter Lippmann once argued that the public could not be expected to follow political debates because people don’t have time to study them in all their complexities. These days, categories like “religious right” and “secular left” serve as shortcuts. It’s easy to align yourself with people like yourself – and against their declared adversaries. What could go wrong?

It’s totally understandable why people would want shortcuts and why they are necessary to a degree. What goes wrong is that politics becomes a set of monologues filled with negative perceptions of the opposition, rather than actually engaging in dialogue to find solutions and compromises. My book shows that those aligned with “religious right” and “secular left” don’t correctly understand each other’s agendas and can sling mud, but cannot move beyond that. I fear that this is the case with many other politically charged debates in America. Therefore, we get stuck in rumor, innuendo, and playground insults rather than seeking out areas of commonality.

Do you think the movement leaders and advocacy groups that drive this dichotomy are interested in compromise? 

For many of them, most likely, they are not interested in solving conflicts. According to their rhetoric, they seek to annihilate the opponent and “win” the debate. They seek to whip up support from those who already agree with them and generate more campaign funds.

Yet “winning” is not possible in the way they imagine, as differences of opinion will always exist.

Some writers do seek some middle ground, such as Steven Waldman’s Founding Faith, David Hollenbachs’ The Common Good and Christian Ethics, and even to some degree, Richard Land’s The Divided States of America? Surprisingly, Barack Obama’s treatment of the issues in Audacity of Hope are very well informed. Yet, his knowledge has not translated into an ability to actually get the kind of compromises he is after—perhaps because there are so many other interests pushing for staunch opposition rather than compromise.

In your view, what model could replace the left-right binary?

That’s a tough question. One problem is that the amount of money in politics encourages perpetual campaigning and fundraising. Amy Gutmann and Dennis Thompson’s book The Spirit of Compromise: Why Governing Demands It and Campaigning Undermines It has done a good job explaining how the endless campaign discourages making a deal between opponents. The need to raise funds for the next campaign causes candidates to be uncompromising. If candidates were given the same amount of money for campaigning, it would change the dynamic because the need to raise funds would be off the table. It would also give us more “full time” politicians, rather than fundraisers.

At the local level, persons who disagree need to get together and see each other as rational human beings. The First Amendment Center tries to settle local disputes through mediating discussions between people who radically disagree and they have made nice progress on local disputes.

Anecdotally, I know of a Mississippi minister who has introduced his flock to atheists, not to convert them, but to begin to see them as people. More efforts like this would be helpful in transforming perceived “enemies” into persons with valid differences of opinion. High quality journalism can also play a part in making discussion more nuanced and educating the public. Instead of being discouraged and turned off from politics, the public needs to reject the binary and demand more. Since it is so much easier to just hate the opponent in an uncomplicated way, and that makes money for many in political media, it is difficult to see how a substantial change could occur without a public demand for it.

The trick is getting the public to see the value of a more nuanced and accurate approach.

On a final note—assuming that most RD readers are already skeptical of left-right politics—what would you say is the most important takeaway from this research?

First, the religious right and secular left aren’t as opposed as they think. For example, most religious right literature still maintains a belief in the importance of a separation between church and state. Moreover, there are areas of moral agreement between the religious right and secular left, even though the reasons for why an act is considered to be immoral are different.

Second, most are blind to these similarities because they do not familiarize themselves with their opponents’ claims. Most left-leaning literature characterizes Christian conservatives as seeking full-on theocracy, while right leaning literature sees the left as moral relativists.

Third, this means that much of the popular political debate on these topics is a ruse and merely perpetuating a straw man fallacy. This has a damaging effect on politics, since much of the discussion is way off track.

Finally, the hope that there are areas of commonality for the majority of those in disagreement with each other is not necessarily good news for those of minority religions—since their religions have difficulty fitting into the Protestant framework that is so common in the United States. Even secular atheists understand religion in very Protestant-like way, involving a stress upon individual decision-making about doctrines of belief. These are principles that atheists believe in, even when they reject religiosity. Religions that don’t fit into this mold cannot truly have freedom of religion in this country until the courts understand religion differently. Otherwise, there is no fairness in the application of principles that are skewed from the beginning to benefit particular types of religion over others.


  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    “Secular atheists?” WTH? Is this meant to denote the opposite of sectarian atheists? It’s nonsensical.

    This entire article makes very little sense to me. The last paragraph is by far the most confusing thing that I’ve read in a good while. More than anything, it reflects Dr. Miller’s love of rhetoric. nothing more.

  •' ecm192 says:

    It’s true I do love rhetoric! But I didn’t write that paragraph. Happy to (try to) answers any questions you have.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    On the idea of introducing atheists to the congregation, I think RD has already been doing that for some time. As you get more and more into that dynamic, it turns out the atheists are striving to become more rational in their approach to things, and religion opposes that. Or it could be some of religion that wants the rational approach tends to keep pretty silent, and the non-rational religionists tend to take control of the pulpit.

    I think there is one small change that we could make that would improve the left-right situation, and that is how we elect presidents. We are a two party system, and the electoral college tends to keep things that way, and grow the divide. There would be a lot of benefit to changing to a popular vote system of electing the president with a 50% requirement with a runoff if nobody reaches 50%. The runoff would be between the top two candidates. Right now it is very hard to form a third party, and we can only accomplish that once every 150 or so years. With a runoff election you could have a third party, and even maybe a fourth, and people could express where they stand on this expanded spectrum with their vote, and minor party votes would then be recast for one of the top two in the runoff instead of just being wasted votes. This allows a third party to form, and actually accomplish something, and perhaps win some local elections, and if they grow strong enough eventually become one of the top two. Right now the 2 parties just split the population, and split the states, and there is no middle ground. Also a popular vote would mean you have to campaign for president in the united states, and not in just a small number of undecided states. Everyone could become equally involved. It is hard to make this kind of change because one party will always think this change might favor the other party in the next election, and so we could never agree to make this change even if it becomes common knowledge that this is how the left-right divide could be reduced.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I think you misspelled WTF.

  •' Husband of the Moonlight says:

    As soon as Humanity decides to eliminate the need for ANY DEITIES and their “religions” they can expect to catapult to a future that they have no idea of presently; of how far “advancement” can actually travel. Religions (all of them) have done little to advance Humanity; NOT ONE scientific advancement can be attributed to any religion or its devoted believers. Indeed, all religions have participated in stifling human advancement and all of the other life forms on the planet have suffered the most at the hands of those who believe in one or another Deity; all of which exhibit the same human traits their “inventors” (the Human beings) do such as jealousy, anger, revenge, and bigotry.
    Humanity does need to hurry up and do it though; they (and the other presently known life forms) have little chance of a “distant future” while so many members of the ‘dominant species’ worship so many Deities with all of the same destructive traits as those devotees; while they possess the technology that presently posses the possibilities of total destruction of all (presently known and even unknown) life forms.
    The “Anthroposcene” that currently is revealing itself would have little benefit for humanity if there were no more humans left to learn from the mistakes of those who went before them who worshiped those Deities that “called for the faith based suicide of the human species”………………………
    In short; there are NO Gods or Goddesses that are “coming back to save anyone”. Humanity will survive themselves or become extinct ; but they will not do either at the hands of anyone———— but themselves.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    We can think ahead of time about the possibilities, and that might influence things. Right now we are building the capability, and perhaps the will, to move off the planet and into space, and other moons or planets. We as a species seem to be developing two potential directions to take this. We could move people in space, and have them multiply and fill space with new environments for people. Another possibility is to fill space with weapons that can keep people from moving in unauthorized directions, and possibly keep them on earth. The religions of today don’t adjust well into a largely space based concept as we spread across the solar system, so they will need modification. The form these adjusted religions take will probably be influence by our decision to either fill space with people, or with weapons.

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    Naw. I didn’t misspell it. I just didn’t want to give the good doctor a excuse to accuse me of pottymouthiness and therefor a reason to dismiss my dissent.

    WTH!=What The Hell!

    There’s little doubt, however, that WTF! is really what I meant to say about the entire article. It’s pure nonsense and I’ll explain why I assert that when I address the Dr. Apologist.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    It opens up discussions on several potential interesting areas. That is what RD does.

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    This entire article is nothing more than an attempt,
    either by design or accident, to perpetuate the myth that there exists an
    amicable resolution to the conflict created by those who worship imagined
    deities and those who demand the use of reason and evidence in all areas of
    understanding of what’s real.

    For certain, there is a resolution. But it’s not an amicable one. The resolution demands that the former cease and desist in their insane attempts to:
    Impose their Bronze Age delusions about what their deity demands on everyone else

    Plaster their ridiculous slogans on every school and courthouse in the country
    Obfuscate and deny established historical fact and scientific consensus
    Deny half the population the right to control their own bodies and reproductive organs
    Deny everyone, except people who “believe” like they do, the right to marry

    I could go on almost indefinitely with the egregious shit that we, this is the sane and reasonable in every society, have to endure because of the “privilege” that people like Dr. Miller believe should be accorded to those who do nothing but poison our striving for enlightened, sane and reasonable thought.

    Hitchens summed it perfectly: Religion poisons everything.

    Only when human beings are finally able to understand this fact will they be able to free themselves from the shackles of their self-imposed ignorance and backwardness.

    The kind of thinking and writing demonstrated by Dr. Miller in this article does not advance that goal. It perpetuates and obfuscates it.

  •' Diggitt says:

    Being skeptical of left-right binaries is all very well…..but for those of of us out of the religious left, you have taken away our history by calling us the secular left. When did the left become secular? “The radical left wing of the Reformation” is a phrase with known meaning. How did we just vanish from the history books?

  •' ecm192 says:

    This is not an article. It is an interview with the author of a book. Hope that helps.

  •' ecm192 says:

    No one’s history is being taken away. This books identifies “religious right” and “secular left” as reductionist labels and attempts to get beyond them.

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    “opens up discussion?” Contributing articles that deny, ignore, misrepresent and obfuscate the real issues that divide our culture is not how I would describe what’s going on here.

    You want to “open up discussion?” I think it’s a good to start the discussion by telling the truth: adherence to dogma and a continued belief in fairy tales is killing us. Stop pussyfootin’ around this fact.

    You wanna’ pray? You want to perpetuate the myth that we’re all under the spell of divine providence? OK, I have no problem with that. All we ask is that you do it in your own home, behind closed doors and leave the rest of us alone already! And for goodness sake already, stop pretending that medieval, Bronze Age, pre-Enlightened, delusional thinking has any role whatsoever to play in a 21st-century, democratic, egalitarian society.

    Just stop it.

  •' Frank6548 says:

    Hmm perpetuating the non thinking, foolish leftie position is not helping you.

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    Yea, call it what you want. It’s still hurtful nonsense.

  •' Diggitt says:

    But there IS no other left in this article. The right is religious and the left is secular. Basically, that makes the article nonsense. I wish that minister who introduced atheists to his congregation had considered introducing his congregation to UUs and Quakers.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    There is a difference between “telling the truth” and just condemning everyone else. Through the years RD has made a lot of progress in stopping the Bronze Age, pre-Enlightened, delusional thinking. Try listening for a few years, then check back.

  •' ecm192 says:

    Again, this is not an article, it is an interview with an author. There are limits to what an interview of this length can cover. But your point is acknowledged at several points, including the very first sentence.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    In this polarized society people tend to go to extremes, and the truth might be somewhere in the middle, but that somewhere might turn out to be highly skewed in one direction. Fox news is not 100% wrong. But they will probably turn out to be about 99% wrong (and on the issue of global warning 100% wrong). It is just a matter of finding a reasonable midpoint, then we can try to compromise.

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    This is precisely the type of reaction I expect from those whose ideas advance the argument that adherence to dogma and stubborn insistence on deity worship have any role, other than a destructive one, in the future of this planet. All you have to do is call them intolerant, ignorant, dogmatic lefties and accuse them of things they never said or implied and all is well.
    And the hordes will all clap for you too! That’s an added bonus!

  •' Jim Reed says:

    You are fighting hard, but I get the feeling you don’t know who you are fighting.

  •' Christopher says:

    I believe in God because of standard scientific method. I have been personally saved by an invisible being when in a triple rollover. The being said: “Let go I’ve got you,” and I felt arms wrap around me as I spun in the air as the step van rolled around me. You would have me reject what I have felt and heard. Why? That is illogical and lacks reason.

    I could go on and on with the miracles God has given to me and my family, from my youngest son being raised from the dead, to my eldest son having his medically confirmed broken neck miraculously healed and then medically confirmed, too many less but still obvious miracles that cam from an unseen source (like wind) but still obviously from some unseen source.

    I don’t oppose Gay marriage. I don’t oppose marrying your cat. You can leave all your fortune to your cat. Why can’t you marry it if you want to? I oppose marriage licenses. So does my lesbian daughter and her lover that live with me. A marriage ceremony is a religious ceremony and government should stay out of it entirely. Separation of Church and State? Why doesn’t it apply to marriage?

    I don’t oppose “the right to control their own bodies and reproductive organs…” I just believe that I should not have to financially pay for those choices through taxes or in any other way. And if those choice spread disease I shouldn’t have to pay for medical care to assist in healing. The people that make the choices should pay. Not me.

    Winners write history. Religion is just a small or no part of that many times. They are written to place the best light on what was done by the winners. It is always distorted.

    Marxism, Maoism, Socialism, Feminism, Naziism and the welfare state are all religions. Satanic ones. Atheism is a religion too. Agnosticism is not.

    What ridiculous slogans are you writing about? I find it very offensive that “In God” We Trust” is on U.S. money and notes. God should be totally removed from government schools. anything less is like praying in a whore house.

    Your reasonable thought is nothing but tyrannical. But then that is what comes from not believing in God. Without God there is no logical reason not to enslave, kill (there is no such thing as murder as that is a sin) rape, steal and subject because Survival of the Fittest is the only law.

    As a Viking I like your proposal. As a Christian I abhor it.

    What logical reason is there for the strong not to enslave the weak? Why should the strong not act like the alpha males of animal groups?

  •' Christopher says:

    Names are used to isolate. When I am asked on a poll if I am a conservative or a liberal I always respond that I am a liberal. Thomas Jefferson was, after all. a flaming liberal.

    When asked my race I respond “other” because Human Race is not included.

    People want to place others in little boxes so they can make easy choices about discrimination. Those deserve to be hated. That group deserves to be loved.

    I have had lunch with the Grand Dragon of the KKK and also spent many hours working with the ACLU while working had for 2nd Amendment protections and fighting the IRS and Social Security system while supporting Gay rights and the right to kill the inconvenient life in a woman’s womb.

    How can the Super Bankers divide and conquer if they cannot divide us? The Bankers love racism and Poor v Rich and Gay v Straight and Left v Right.

    You vanished from the books because the people that control the books wanted you to vanish as you do not fit into their plans of absolute enslavement. They want you to shut up and accept that you are a secularist.

  •' Christopher says:

    The truth is that right is liberty and the left is tyranny and the left is every bit as religious as the right. What is called the religious right is oftentimes more left than the leftists as they seek tyranny ion the name of their god while the leftists claim they have no god while working actively for a supernatural being that hates liberty.

  •' Christopher says:

    “NOT ONE scientific advancement can be attributed to any religion or its devoted believers.”

    What a bunch of crap.

    I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. –George Washington Carver

    The worship of God is a duty…Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature… I never doubted the existence of the Deity, that he made the world, and governed it by His Providence…The pleasures of this world are rather from God’s goodness than our own merit… Whoever shall introduce into the public affairs the principles of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world… Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God. –Benjamin Franklin

    “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” — Galileo Galilei

    Geometry, which before the origin of things was coeternal with the divine mind and is God himself (for what could there be in God which would not be God himself?), supplied God with patterns for the creation of the world, and passed over to Man along with the image of God; and was not in fact taken in through the eyes. — Johannes Kepler

  •' RevElMundodeGuevara says:

    I don’t know what to make of this remark, nor do I even know how to respond. Is it:
    A) a veiled threat, intended to make me cower in the presence of overwhelming brilliance
    B) an expression of your belief that you have a direct line on “truth”
    C) an expression of an overly inflated opinion that you hold of yourself
    D) all of the above

    For certain, it does not give me the impression of someone who respects reasoned and clear dialogue.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I am not fighting you, and you are not fighting me, but you are fighting hard or at least you seemed to be until this last post.

    So lets start over. This article seems to give lots of possibilities for discussing aspects of the left vs right binary.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    So the one thing you do believe in is no social security numbers.

  •' Christopher says:

    I believe in SSNs. They are real. I have seen them with my own eyes.

    I just don’t believe that voluntary slavery is a good thing and so I do not have one and neither do my children and grandchildren.

    In A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of North-America, Now Met in Congress at Philadelphia, Setting Forth the Causes and Necessity of Their Taking Up Arms. In this document Thomas Jefferson, writing for the Congress, said:

    “We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. – The latter is our choice. – We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. – Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.”

    But that is EXACTLY what Social Security does. It basely entails hereditary bondage upon our innocent posterity. That is why Democrats have called it a “Sacred pact between the generations.”

    It is Socialist’s “sacred” hereditary bondage.

  •' William Anderson says:

    I think this is simply an attempt to paper over differences. I do take issue with the term “secular ‘left”as it leaves those of us on the “religious or spiritual left” out. There are some issues on which no compromise seems possible
    1 Abortion While one would think that a compromise as to what regulations are reasonable and how late in a pregnancy it should be allowed, the right seems determined to ban all abortions at least from the moment of conception
    2 Evolution and science taught in the schools. If God created the world in 6 24 hour days then our thinking about evolution, biology, geoloy, and physics is simply wrong. The conflict can not be reconciled. On the other hand if scientific theories are correct the Biblical account is wrong and fundamental religious beliefs are wrong
    3 Climate change real and/or do we need to deal with it If Christ will come again in the next few years, then even if climate change is real it would be pointless to try to do anything about it
    See below

  •' William Anderson says:

    The term secular left also ignores Jews and Catholics. Jews in the US had a long tradition in the labor movement, supported the Socialist and Communist parties, and were a significant part of the anti Vietnam war movement. The Catholic left includes the Berrigan brothers, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement Catholic nuns have continued to harass nuclear weapons plants. The problem that I see is that the right has stolen the term “religious” for itself

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Maybe you should read another blog/website, where you won’t get so upset.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Are you off your meds or something? You’re kind of…worked up.

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    The main problem with this interview is that I leave it not understanding *anything* more about the Left and Right than I understood before. Put another way, there’s very little there, there. We are told a few truisms–people are more interested in “winning” than “solving conflicts” and the like–but none of them are things we needed to read the interview to find out.

    Pretty thin stuff, I’m afraid. Don’t know whether it’s because the book is shallow or the interview, but there it is.

  •' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    I might have paid more attention to the details of Professor Fry’s argument had I felt that she and I would mean the same thing by ‘Religious right.” Yes, there are a large number of conservative religious speakers who would merit the ‘even-handedness’ that she suggests, that it is possible to discuss ideas with and reach common ground on some of them, and understanding of the other’s position even if it is impossible to find the slightest agreement with it.

    Sadly, though, these people represent a relatively small and certainly less influential segment of the Radical Religious right — and I am deliberately adding the word radical here. We are told “At the local level, persons who disagree need to get together and see each other as rational human beings.” I would agree, and change the words to read ‘rational and honest.’

    Unfortunately, I have to add to this statement ‘…except when they aren’t.’ In fact, I would argue that the problem — and even the difficulty in communication — comes not from refusing to treat reasonable people as reasonable, but instead because we treat unreasonable and/or dishonest people and/or literally insane people as if they were reasonable, worthy of respect, and worthy of being ‘argued with’ in the sense of being confronted with facts and evidence and logical arguments.

    There are so many examples of each of the three categories that I will just give some samples and perhaps come back with many more tomorrow.

    But the person who says there is a ‘War on Christmas’ or a ‘War on Christians’ or who states that legalizing SSM will lead to pastors being forced to perform them against their will is — most likely — a liar, no more and no less. And how do we conduct a reasoned debate against a liar of this type, any more than we can against a Creationist.

    The person who claims Christians are being literally persecuted in the United States, or who claims that legalizing SSM means that pastors who quote Leviticus will be jailed for hate speech — can you simply treat him as a reasonable person?

    But this still represents the ‘center’ or even the ‘center-left’ of what is currently claiming to be ‘religious conservatism. PFAW runs RIGHT WING WATCH, which, every weekday, searches for the most extreme statements — and finds enough for ten articles and five to ten links every day — usually about right wingers who run religious radio programs or who are pastors — and not fringe people, one radio evangelist may easily be elected to Congress, A vile hate-group leader like Bryan Fisher gets Congressional leaders and candidates and governors all to appear on his show. But even the author of the following has run rallies at which numerous Congresspeople and candidates have appeared. His name is Rodney Howard-Browne, and these quotes are from today. (Perhaps tomorrow I will discuss the rest of merely today’s crop.) The site includes the audio of the program, btw.

    “Howard-Browne told “Trunews” host Rick Wiles that America today is no different than Germany under Nazi rule: “We’ve been taken over. We are living in occupied territory. It’s like Nazi Germany in 1933 right now in America. People say, ‘That’s just crazy.’ But no it’s not, it’s fact.” …

    “Howard-Browne claimed that the U.S. government is now building concentration camps and gas chambers “right before our eyes,” including one gas chamber that is currently under construction in Kentucky, as a result of a United Nations/Agenda 21 plot to pave the way for a “one world government” and “the rise of the Antichrist.”…

    “Howard-Browne also told Wiles that a “leading congressman” informed him about an impending collapse of the U.S. dollar and the food supply. “We are going to martial law,” he said, before warning that the Muslim Brotherhood controls dozens of American ports and that ISIS is infiltrating the U.S.”

    “Naturally, the interview ended with Howard-Browne reading a list of quotes about the coming one world government, which will be based on socialism, Zionism, Masonry, the Rothschild family and owl-worship, and which will empower the “Luciferian structure of the globe that worships Lucifer.”
    Remember, this is the same televangelist who organized a month-long conservative prayer gathering in Washington this year and led a 2012 Republican National Convention prayer rally, both of which drew top GOP and Religious Right figures.

    Sadly, this is not a wild exception, there are similar quotes every day. How do you find common ground with this person, or similar ‘reasonable people”/ Sadly the only thing that can be done with them is to oppose and expose them.

  •' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    Entirely agree, except that, when I leave the article, I have even less idea if the author — or, I’m sorry to say, the interviewer — understands anything about today’s Right. period. Both are so locked in to a formulaic false equivalence and ‘find the middle’ solution that the two sides they discuss have little relationship to those people who are actually out there.
    If there is one small point of agreement I have with them is that Progressives frequently misuse and overuse terms like ‘theocrat’ and ‘dominionist.’ (And at least some of those who know the term probably throw ‘reconstructionist’ around as loosely.) Reconstructionism and dominionism are both terms that have specific meaning and they represent truly narrow ‘slices’ of the Religious Right. The meaning — and the danger — from them is only blurred by the casual use of the term.
    As for ‘theocrat’ that, at the least, refers to a system of government where the head of the church and the head of the state are united in the same person. Those Muslims who support the idea of the caliphate might qualify. It is a stretch, but there have been times when Mormonism was, in this sense, theocratic — but merely over it’s ‘own’ area. Eastern Orthodox Christianity too is theocratic but nationalistic. (I am utterly unable to understand how they can combine these two, but Orthodoxy may be the only form of religion that seems to defeat me. I have never been able to get a handle on it.)
    But — except for the ‘bring on the end times’ types, who would have the union under the actual rulership of a returned ‘Christ’ — there are no true theocrats among the American Protestant radical right, not even the followers of Rushdoony. (Saying ‘the laws should be based on the revealed word of some god or other’ is not theocracy. The term — as I would use it, true — refers to an actual union of the secular and the religious under one head. Can anyone name anyone on the Religious Right who would hold this view, even in its most watered down form of ‘Divine Right Monarchy’?)
    For a change, I am trying to break this before too much of it shrinks below the ‘more’ line. This part has been merely a prelude to a look at what the two sides actually hold, a far cry from what Professor Fry argues.

  •' Jim 'Prup' Benton says:

    Today, however, the RR is far from the type of group that Professor Fry seems to think it is. It has none of the ‘well-meaning and sincere, if deluded’ aspect it once had, and has become a movement dependent on lies, and floating on the ignorance of its hearers — and there is simply no equivalent on the left, secular or religious.

    (At least none with any power or impact. I am quite sure that one of our more intelligent trolls will find some obscure group or blog on the left that is as dishonest and delusional as are hundreds on the RR — but they don’t get ‘legitimized’ by having actual politicians in office or actual candidates appearing with them at gatherings, or writing for them, or speaking out for them.)

    Until we learn that deliberate liars cannot be dealt with by pretending they are simply ‘sincerely wrong or deluded’ we can’t make much progress. A person who claims that Barack Obama is a socialist or communist, a person who claims that there are FEMA concentration camps, or that Agenda 21 is a sinister plot to change our form of government that will be enforced by UN troops, or that there is a sinister cabal of gays and that “the dangerous political agenda of the tyrannical homosexual movement” represents “a full-frontal assault on Christianity itself, as well as our God-given freedoms and the very foundations of our constitutional Republic.” or even that ‘Barack Obama spent Christmas in a Washington mosque’ when he was in fact in Hawaii — these people are not ‘sadly deluded.’ They are simply L-I-A-R-S and can only be treated as such.

    Until we realize that — for example — a preacher who claims there is Biblical sanction for the most extreme extensions of the Second Amendment, or for refusing to permit the government to aid the poor, or that “Biblical Marriage” is anything but patriarchal and polygynous, or that the Bible speaks in favor of — or even about — Laissez-faire capitalism and corporate power is simply relying on his hearers’ ignorance of the Bible and unwillingness to read it to check on the statements. (In rare cases the preacher might actually share their ignorance and unwillingness to actually read the Bible, but few are really that dumb — a dumbness that includes being unaware that neither capitalism nor corporations existed at the time of even the latest Biblical book — or for a millennium and a half afterwards.)

    I am still waiting for someone to explain why or how the Left could open a dialogue with people who reject the requirement of being honest, or why these people I have mentioned should be treated with merely by saying that “persons who disagree need to get together and see each other as rational human beings.”

  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:


    “The right is religious and the left is secular. Basically, that makes the article nonsense.”

    Exactly correct. I stopped reading at about the second sentence: anyone with logic and information as poor as this writer’s has nothing to say worth reading — but the letters are worth a glance.



  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:


    “The truth is that right is liberty and the left is tyranny…”
    Horse pockey. There are libertarians on both right and left, authoritarians also on both. My view would be that leftist civil liberties folks are genuine in their commitments, while right wing “libertarians” are very very often fraudulent.


  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:


    “The worship of God is a duty…”

    Do you have any source for this claim other than paid staffers in the industry and their committed followers?


  •' Christopher says:

    Communists/socialists are not pro-liberty and libertarians are not pro-government. If they are then they are not libertarians. Pigs are not sheep. Atheists are not Christians.

    Atheists can be good people and people CLAIMING to be Christians can be evil. But an Atheist does not believe in God and a Christian is not an evil person. If they are evil then they are not a Christian they just lie and use the name in vain.

    Up is not down. Hot is not cold and libertarians do not support tyranny or they are not libertarians.

    I have often worked with the ACLU and they have even taken or worked with us on several of our cases and they are sincerely pro-civil rights until it conflicts with their anti-God agenda. And that is okay with me. They have the right to believe whatever they want to believe.They can work for me or against me and I am still very friendly with them.

    I have only met one Libertarian party member that was anything but a pro-drug, pro-abortion, pro-gay rights, pro gun rights semi-activist that had no clue about history or how government works. That one person was Aaron Russo. A small l libertarian can be from any party but they oppose big government and don’t want you or I to pay for their religion or their welfare. If they do then they are not libertarians.

  •' Christopher says:

    Paid staffers? Sorry. I have no clue about that.

    The worship of God is a Duty; the hearing and reading of Sermons may be useful; but, if Men rest in Hearing and Praying, as too many do, it is as if a Tree should Value itself on being water’d and putting forth Leaves, tho’ it never produc’d any Fruit.
    Letter to Joseph Huey (6 June 1753); published in Albert Henry Smyth, The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, volume 3, p. 145.

  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:

    Have it your own way, Chris.


  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:

    Yawn. (But you might want to look at your caps key and see if it’s come loose.)


  •' David Lloyd-Jones says:

    “I believe in SSNs. They are real.”

    Some are, many aren’t. There’s a moderately simple parity check you can run on them to find out which are which.

    If you just put in digits at random the chances of you making up a valid number are very very slim.

    About like the way you type your text, Chris.


  •' Christopher says:

    Isn’t that they way it should be?

  •' Christopher says:

    Another anal retentive.

    Since I Kopied that Kuote I’d nutting’ TA do wiff da speelin’ or CapiTaliZatIon.

    WIKIKUotes are TA BLAmez. Eater Dat or dat dar Franklin Guy didn’t knows how ta Speels.

    Sarry youze iz tarred. Maybe youze shuold SLEEPs more.

  •' Christopher says:

    Thanks for that update. I didn’t know a thing about them Numberz. I thinkered That U justs madez ’em Ups and Sents ‘Um ins to da Guverments den day sends um back and you sends um yur money likes a slave or a denatured servant. Ores maybes like deem English Serfs used to bees like.

    I bets you got one that’s OFFICIAL and all that. Must make YOUSE so Proud ta be a voluntary slave. ANd One tHat’s can Spells so well too. I R impressed. I means it.

    YOuse musta gradeeadted from One er them their universetiez like USC ur UCLA ur Berkley. WOW! Did you get the guberment to pays yur way or was ur folks rich like peoples?

    WOW I is E’un morse imspressed If you done did dat. Cuz I enjoy kicking the rears a folks with them their laws Degrees when I gets em in court. I likes to impress my boot in there ARSE ifen youze knows what I meanz.

    Funny hows day thinks day can whoop me cuz they gots a piece of worthless papers and can spells gooder un me whens really it alls come downs ta da judges just reading dem laws and super court rulkingz. Thems college educated Laiers always looked shocked like horse with a metric probe up its wayzoo when dat judge rules gainst em cause day think dat they’res degree wills win em the case without them havings to actually read dem laws and courts cases and all that legal mumbo jumbo.

    But thanks fer dat news on dem dare slave numbers. But winces I don”ts wanna be a slave I don’t need no kinda a numbers from da Guberment. Only slaves needs ’em. Specilly dem slaves dat spells gooder.

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