The Religious Right’s War on Unions

The war against unions and working class Americans that’s raging in Wisconsin and other states isn’t just a campaign being waged by economic conservatives and wealthy special interests. Check out this fascinating essay on how the religious right is using the Bible to attack everything from unions to the minimum wage and the progressive income tax. And who is the High Priest of this alliance of religious and economic right-wingers? David Barton, head of the Texas-based, far-right group WallBuilders. Yup, that’s the same Barton appointed by the State Board of Education in 2009 to help revise social studies curriculum standards for Texas public schools.

From Peter Montgomery’s essay for Religion Dispatches:

Pseudo-historian David Barton, a frequent guest of broadcaster Glenn Beck, is using his newly enlarged audience to promote American exceptionalism (America was created by its divinely-inspired founders as a country of, by, and for Christians) and Tea Party-on-steroids economics (Jesus and the Bible oppose progressive taxes, capital gains taxes, estate taxes, and minimum wage laws). . . . Two days after the November 2010 elections, Barton, Newt Gingrich, and Jim Garlow (who runs Gingrich’s Renewing American Leadership group), held a conference call with pastors to celebrate conservative political gains. On the call, Garlow and Barton asserted a biblical underpinning for far-right economic policies: Taxation and deficit spending, they said, amount to theft, a violation of the Ten Commandments. The estate tax, Barton said, is “absolutely condemned” by the Bible as the “most immoral” of taxes. Jesus, he said, had “teachings” condemning the capital gains tax and minimum wage.

Barton also enlists Jesus in the war against unions and collective bargaining. Two years ago Barton devoted his Wallbuilders Live radio show to celebrating a Supreme Court decision that upheld an Idaho law ending state withholding of public employee union political funds. Barton’s co-host Rick Green called for activists to “spark a fire” and encourage other states to take up the effort to disrupt unions’ political activities. Barton called the Supreme Court’s decision “the right historical position and the right biblical position,” and went on to explain why the Bible is anti-union.

According to Barton, a parable from the 20th chapter of the book of Matthew about the owner of a vineyard making different arrangements with workers was about “the right of private contract”—in other words, the right of employers to come to individual agreements with each employee. Jesus’ parable, he said, is “anti-minimum wage” and “anti-socialist-union kind of stuff.” (This is just one of the parables of Jesus cited by Barton and others in support of laissez-faire economic policies.)

You can read the whole piece here.

9 thoughts on “The Religious Right’s War on Unions

  1. The unons over played their hand during up until globalization and automation broke the hold that unions had over management, now dominated by the MBA Mandarins. Likewise did the white collar middle class lose their hold over paper shuffling and the hold that the control of informaiton has ove organizations. Thus the core of the middle class consisting of blue collars and whitle collar workers. While many white collar workers thought they were able to bargain with management, the disappearance of the unions left no threat.

    At present highly skilled American workers work part time temporary jobs for sub-contractors that come and go. Not since the bad old days of early industrialization have working people been treated like cattle. The question of the day is how long will it take for a critical mass of working stiffs to realize that selfdom would be an improvement.

    How long will it take before someone points out to the multtudes of the Divine Right that their iceberg is in hot water.

  2. It looks to me as if the “Great Deceiver” has found himself another scam to run, and his Religious Right dogs are lapping it up like fresh bacon at a hog killing.

    I had predicted that this day would come—a time when the Bible would be officially twisted to support the economic ends of evil men. If none of you mind, I would like to take this opportunity to coin a new term. This term is the:

    “Nether Bible”

    Does anyone here remember Richard Nixon’s “Silent Majority”? The Nether Bible is somewhat like that. It is the invisible words of God that are not formally stated in the Bible—but are nonetheless understood to be there as an unseen but complimentary part of it. For example, the Bible does not specifically authorize the use of airplanes. Therefore, the Nether Bible says that it is morally wrong for someone who loves God to fly or ride on an airplane.

    Some will hail the Nether Bible as one of the greatest theological discoveries of the modern age. The Religious Right is already embracing it with open arms—even though they have no name for it. Now, I have given them a name for it. It was so obvious. It was there all of these years. How could we have missed it?

    Is this the greatest theological discovery of the modern age? No, I don’t think so. A name for this phenomenon was already in existence, and you could have heard it in a 1930s black and white movie. It is called the:

    “Blank Check”

    Basically, it is a wide open space that allows evil men to write their own scripture and pretend that God gave it—then apply it to any evil ends that they want to achieve in this world.

    For many years, theologians have debated this question: “Why did Jesus come at the specific time he did in human history”? No one knows for sure. However, as an anthropologist and archaeologist, I have a good hypothesis. The Holy Trinity realized that the trajectory of human history required a change in theology and a change in covenant. With the advent of Rome and all of the many scientific and intellectual changes that would follow on its heels, the entire Earth would be put on a path towards radical cultural change—changes so complex that the Old Testament laws—given to a nomadic people who herded sheep—would be of little use in coping with the things that people would have to face in the future. In its place, we were given some basic principles that would work:

    1) “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.”

    2) “And the second is like, namely this , Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

    3) “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits . Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (See No. 1 and No. 2) [Matthew 7: 15-21].

    I would submit to David Barton and his kind that these principles are easily applied in all times and places—and the Holy Trinity intended it to be so. Did you note the “…none other commandments greater than these…” part? That is important. None other means—none other. That means greater than the rest of the Bible, greater than the 10 Commandments, greater than the “Nether Bible,” and greater than any twisted theological coprolite you can dream up on a Saturday afternoon in some political caucus.

    I would like to remind David Barton and the Religious Right of three other things that apply in light of the above lead article by TFN:

    1) Gods says: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please , and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (Isaiah 55: 11).

    2) Jesus said: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away (Matthew 24: 35).

    3) Jesus said: This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15: 8)

    And now a closing hymn for the Religious Right:

  3. One more thing. This is hilarious.

    In a local community hereabouts, workers in a labor union are having a dispute with their company. A group of 12 church pastors in town has taken the unusual step of publicly supporting the labor union in their quest. There was a story in the newspaper about it just the other day. As you might guess, the Religious Right is really upset about it, and the usual local far right suspects who write op-ed letters to the newspaper are up in arms. Their complaint:

    “Pastors and churches ought to stay out of politics and labor disputes. It’s just not right for them to be doing that.”

    Speaks volumes—dontcha think?

  4. “Pastors and churches ought to stay out of politics and labor disputes. It’s just not right for them to be doing that.”

    That only applies to compassionate Christians who embrace progressive humanitarian values.

    We might want to remind Glenn Beck’s “Black Robe Regiment” of that – the electioneering right-wing Christian fundamentalists who have been campaigning from the pulpit for the GOP for years. They’ve gone into overdrive on the pulpit politicking and can’t stand the competition.

  5. By the way, have you seen the Texas Republican Party platform lately? They’ve decided that we’re a Christian nation and that our legal system should be based on Old Testament biblical law. They oppose all industry regulation, public education, collective bargaining, environmental protection, consumer protections, and investor protections. They claim that all taxes (except a 23% sales tax) are unbiblical, as is Social Security and public health care… amongst other things:

    P.S. David Barton is also featurd in a video (posted at Right Wing Watch) claiming that Jesus opposed the minimum wage:

  6. kfreed, thanks a lot for the website link for theocracy watch. I didn’t know about it.

  7. One should ponder what the Bible is purported to say concerning the various political issues of the day that is unequivocal and agreed upon by all who profess said certainty to exist. While the contention that the Bible is the Word of God is strongly held by all manner of Protestant, the exact meaning of any given provision of the Bible is rarely ever agreed upon by even a majority of the same Protestants.

    In the Catholic church, there are mechanisms to determine the correct position, usually certified by the Pope.

    Any attempt to apply a Biblical doctrine will likely be met by vigorous opposition, the most ferocious of which will be from other Biblical adherents. The English Civil Wars started in 1637 when King Charles I tried to impose Anglican services on the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The ruckus that followed cost King Charles I his head, and a military dictatorship under Oliver Cromwell was imposed. Mounted patrols scouted out and stamped out any form of having fun, like dancing and make up. Charles II was invited back for fun and games, until his son, James II tried to reinstate Catholicism and the English replaced that king with a Dutch King and then a line of Germans who sitll reign.

    The English Civil wars were on the heels of several centuries of total war which was called of in 1648 with the Treaty of Westphalia in Germany after which nations respected each others choice of religion…. sort of.

    Given that the Tea Party condemns the Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, one must ask what sort of governance these religous zealots have in mind. Or have they thought it out that far yet?

  8. Which is why the founding fathers wrote the 1st amendment.

    As James Madison said:

    “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.”
    -1803 letter objecting use of gov. land for churches