Public university sponsorship of conference on"Examining the
Rea l Agend...
JMHACLJ at aol.com
JMHACLJ at aol.com
Wed Jun 15 13:41:39 PDT 2005
In a message dated 6/15/2005 2:26:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
sgreen at willamette.edu writes:
If Mark does not know the content of the program, then I do not think one
can assume that a conference that may "criticize" aspects of the Religious
Right is "hostile" to the Christian Right. I would hope that any
conference would be balanced, but I would assume that academic freedom would
allow for criticism, particularly since it is a timely and
legitimate topic. As for the issue of the criticism occuring at a state
supported university, are public universities barred from tackling
controversial issues (and taking sides) merely because they involve
religion? How about their professors?
Draw whatever conclusion that you may from the program schedule, a copy of
which is hosted online at
According to the website, presentations included the following:
Fundamentalism: The Fear and the Rage - Karen Armstrong, The Rise of
Dominionism in the U.S. Government - Joan Bokaer, Millennialist and Apocalyptic
Influences on Dominionism - Chip Berlet, Learning about the Christian Right, and
What in the World to Do - Frederick Clarkson, The Real Hidden Religious
Agenda: The Theocratic States of America - John Sugg, Is an Unholy American
Theocracy Here? - Katherine Yurica, On the Psychology and Theocracy of George W.
Bush: Reflections in a Culture of Fear - Charles Strozier, Christian Jihad -
Skipp Porteous, Jesus Plus Nothing: Elite Fundamentalism, Pragmatic
Dominionism - Jeff Sharlet, Religion and Secrecy in the Bush Administration - Hugh
Sounds balanced, right?
Karen Armstrong, I think, needs no introduction thanks to her prodigious
writing, especially on relations between the west and Islam.
Joan Bokaer is the founder of _http://www.theocracywatch.org_
Chip Berlet? Long time freelance writer, including for High Times
(published by Norman Mailer's son, John) and for some 20 years a senior researcher
Political Research Associates, a Massachusetts group that has lived off the
carcasses of right wing and conservative organizations thanks to its special
focus as "an independent, nonprofit research center that exposes and
challenges the Right and larger oppressive movements, institutions, and forces. PRA
produces accurate applied research and useful analytic tools to inform and
support progressive activism that promotes equality and justice. "
Frederick Clarkson, author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between
Theocracy and Democracy, speaks for himself at
_http://www.frederickclarkson.com/_ (http://www.frederickclarkson.com/) .
A search in vain for balance from John Sugg can be conducted at
_http://www.johnsugg.com_ (http://www.johnsugg.com) .
Katherine Yurica. Go to
(http://www.yuricareport.com/Dominionism/TheDespoilingOfAmerica.htm) . Need one say more?
Charles Strozier authored a biography of a sorts about President Lincoln,
taking a psychotherapeutic romp through Honest Abe's life to bring us
"Lincoln's Quest for Union." He also "specializes" in something he calls "endism" or
teachings about apocalyptic endings of the world. In that vein, he
authored, Apocalypse: On the Psychology of Fundamentalism in America (Boston: Beacon
Press, 1994). His balance is demonstrated with a remark at the NY
Conference describing the "basically neo-fascist schemes of the new Republicans."
Skipp Porteus, founder of the Institute for First Amendment Studies, a
voluminous source of anti-right screed now archived at
_http://www.ifas.org/wa/index.html_ (http://www.ifas.org/wa/index.html) , is a former Pentecostal
preacher that "exposes" the religious right through such personally devoted acts as
dumpster diving in the trash cans of religious right organizations.
Jeff Sharlet, a founder of _http://www.killingthebuddha.com_
(http://www.killingthebuddha.com) , with his co-author of the book of the same name, studies
and speaks about religion and conservativism, both on the Buddha site, and
at _http://www.therevealer.com_ (http://www.therevealer.com) , where he is the
Editor. His equanimity for the Religious Right is evidenced in this piece
that bumps against Pat Robertson,
Hugh Urban, an associate professor of comparative religions and author on
Tantric sex and Hinduism, would not appreciate being confused for a balanced
voice on such issues. Take this, from one of his recent articles:
To close, I would like to offer a few comments regarding the political role
of the scholar of religion in the world today. There was a time when I, like
most scholars of religion, believed that the best I could do was to remain as
neutral as possible about the political implications of my research while at
the same remaining as self-conscious as possible about the ways in which my
work might be affected by my own political opinions. Well, I must say that I
no longer believe in this sort of comfortable pretense of neutrality. When
one's government is committing acts as disturbing as those of the Bush
administration, and concealing them under layers of obsessive secrecy, no thinking
citizen, can pretend to remain comfortably neutral. . . . I would also agree
with Pierre Bourdieu, who suggests that the task of the scholar is, among
other things, to unmask and demystify relations of power that have been masked
and mystified in the social order. By unmasking the subtle forms of
misrecognition and symbolic violence at work in society, the scholar is exercising a
fundamentally political power: "There is a political dimension to…what
sociology should do in the modern world...Acts of research...are acts of struggle,
conquest and victory over taken for granted assumptions about social life:
scientific research is a struggle against all forms of symbolic domination."
For the scholar of religion, that means unmasking relations of power and
oppression that have been mystified by appeals to divine authority, wars of Good
against Evil, and coded references to scriptures. That is how we can exert our,
admittedly limited, political effect within the academy, among our students
and within our communities. It is surely high time that we began doing so.
So, I guess it is fair game not to conclude that balance was a hallmark of
the conference. In fact, it would be fair game to conclude that balance was
never an objective of the conference.
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