SALON – Christian right’s rage problem: How white fundamentalists are roiling America

Selected Article Excerpt:

  • Over the past few years, America has been divided by religion.  The culture wars have heated up with secularists on one side and God-fearing Americans on the other, and to understate things: They disagree.  But does that mean we hate one another?  If the animosity is so intense, what kind of outrage goes too far? Bonnie Weinstein has tackled this issue in an important but very troubling book out Dec. 2, titled “To the Far Right Christian Hater … You Can Be a Good Speller or a Hater, But You Can’t Be Both: Official Hate Mail, Threats, and Criticism From the Archives of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.”

    Married to Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the author has collected and annotated a sampling of the hate mail the foundation has received over the past few years.  This hate mail is not trolling or anonymous “Internet comments.”  The letters are specific and threatening and most often include a return address or email.  The Weinsteins’ home has been vandalized — many times — and the family has had to take serious and expensive security measures.  It’s no joke.  As I read the book, curled up on my couch, my wife kept asking if I was OK.  My face was fixed in an expression of horror and disbelief as I read the rage, hate and cruelty cataloged on every page.  Bonnie has uncovered a shocking reality: Self-professed Christians deny the fundamental humanity of other people they don’t even know.
  • I’ve interviewed Mikey before. He’s a lawyer and an enthusiastic warrior ready to take on the haters and assholes.  He’s not in the atheist movement (he considers himself agnostic), but he comes from a long tradition of tough secularists who aren’t afraid of personal insults or an ugly fight.  You can’t help sensing that Mikey loves the game.  When I interviewed Bonnie about her book, I found her nothing like that.  She believes in and supports the work of the MRFF but is shaken — to her core — by the people who sling the vilest filth at her and her family.  She is an often silent witness to the worst humanityand religion have to offer.  She exudes a sense of profound sadness, and in only a few minutes chatting with her, she became my hero and my heart broke for her.
  • The MRFF, American Civil Liberties Union, American Humanists Association and many other civil rights groups are not out to promote atheism. They don’t even dislike Christianity.  Bonnie and her family are not members of the New Atheist movement, and in fact, most of the people represented by the MRFF are self-described Christians who simply object to military-imposed religious services and worship.  They often don’t like the fundamentalist, dominionist flavor of Christianity so common in the military.  These men and women who serve their country deserve to have their religious freedom protected.  The military could fix itself in months or even weeks with some strongly worded policies and even the smallest amount of political backbone.  Sadly, our toughest generals lack the guts to stand up to the religious right.

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  1. John Skinner

    Mikey and Bonnie
    I’ve been watching your work from the sidelines for a while now. As a veteran I know how important this work is to our democracy. I feel a bit nauseated thinking about what is directed at you, and can only feel the abject terror that must live inside those that do so; It’s like the most fundamental pillar(s) of a belief system are threatening with annihilation, and that’s not what you are doing or fighting for. I will order the new book from you, hoping Bonnie will sign it for me. Bless you both, your courage and vision are humbling.

  2. rogolf2

    Hi Mikey and Bonnie,
    As citizens of this island in a small galaxy we are made to feel less accepted because we tolerate positions other than biblical slice and dice judgements, then christians have placed themselves in a position to be confronfed. I am no more a christian, a jew, a muslim, a buddhist, a hindu or of any religion. I am human, not an ego. A minor bit player in this greater whole. With that said I am placing an order for Bonnie’s book. Based on comments made to date about its content, I relish being challenged and preparing myself for unforseen battles with its detracters.

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