(photo: dbking/wikimedia)

Probably the most convenient thing about turning one’s political party into a something closer to a religion, as the Republicans have increasingly done, is that your adherents can be relied upon to believe anything you say, no matter how implausible, provably false, or downright cuckoo it happens to be. When you’re talking about a religion, after all, the more improbable the belief is, the more fervently it is held, and for Republicans this tendency is always a bonus, for good reason. If you intend to mobilize people to accept that God wants us to, say, let old people eat cat food, flatten mountains for their coal, or inject poisons into the earth to extract polluting fuels, picking the ones who already believe in the virgin birth seems a good place to start.

It’s no coincidence that the ever-present religious overtones of Republican politics have reached such an unseemly fever pitch of late; because their most treasured doctrines have been completely  and repeatedly discredited here in the temporal world, they’re left no choice but to tirelessly invoke celestial approval to make up for it . To aid in this Godly endeavor, they’ve come up with a whole new bible, and as luck would have it, it’s so much better than the old one.  Gone is that lame, hippie Jesus who was always caterwauling about those shiftless poor people and worse, loving one’s enemies rather than just bombing them to smithereens; now the guy with the crown of thorns looks suspiciously like Paul Ryan, and Santorum quickly jumps in to remind us that the Crusades were actually a good thing. 

Heaven’s gotten a lot better too these days, ever since they made it into a pearly-gated community where it’s the poor that have to squeeze through the needle’s eye to get in.  Noah’s ark has been handily reduced to theme park size as well, since a lot of those worthless varmints were just obstinately standing in the way of the Job Creators.

The trouble is that when a power-drunk political party really gets its God on, there’s just no stopping them until they end up in Inquisition territory, as we first saw at Gitmo and Abu Ghraib, but now see in Virginia, Arizona, Alabama, and the NYPD, to name just a few.  Everywhere they look, Republicans see more witches that need burning: environmentalists, teachers, scientists, Grammy performers, unions, women, Muslims, gays, liberals, occupiers, and of course the dusky-hued of whatever description…. the list goes on and on.  No punishment is too harsh, no restriction too Draconian, and perhaps most interestingly, coming from self-anointed conservatives, no cost too great, to vanquish their ever-increasing list of mortal enemies.

It used to be adequate to prove one’s faith by simply preaching against abortion (and maybe encouraging people to assassinate a doctor here and there).    Now you have to make doctors shove a thingamajig into those sluts’ vaginas.  Once upon a time, merely advocating deportation of immigrants was enough, now it’s a choice between electrocuting them, feeding them to the ‘gators, or, for the more squeamish, just cutting off their water and waiting.  Where once it was enough to simply ignore the plight of the pesky poor and/or unemployed one’s policies invariably create, now they must be subjected to drug tests and other ritual humiliations to put them in their place. 

Bringing “freedom” to the Middle East has quickly morphed into flattening it, and an indifferent attitude to maintaining a livable planet is now an angelic clarion call to trash the place as soon as possible.  It’s no longer enough to merely relieve the wealthy of their taxes, this time we must demand punitive but cleansing suffering from everyone else to protect their delicate feelings, too.  (For this particular revelation, Jesus wears a wig that makes him look like David Gregory….)

What’s most depressing about all this is that the Democrats, with a few exceptions, have responded to this bizarre and repellent tent revival not just with their customary timidity, but by meekly joining the choir for most of the hymns, even those that leave most Americans plugging their ears.  As far as taxing the rich, prosecuting war crimes, respecting civil rights, protecting the environment, and on and on, Democrats not only fail to offer a truly different direction, but they’ve squandered the credibility to even bother.  This election needn’t have been close, but it will be, no matter which bible-thumping nincompoop the Republicans end up nominating.

Glory glory hallelujah, those lies are marching on.