America’s ‘Great Divide’ religion, not economics
by RUSS STEWART
Bill Clinton political guru James Carville, back around 1992, popularized the iconic phrase "It’s the economy, stupid." America’s economy, as with the rest of the democratic world, has always been dichotomized between the haves and the have nots, with differing political priorities and propensities.
The have nots are not street people, urchins or panhandlers, they are simply people who understand that they have less wealth than the haves and who accept that reality until such time as they perceive that their wealth is diminishing while that of the haves is appreciating. Then they get mad, and, according to Carville, tend to vote Democratic. The "Bush Recession" of 1991-92 is what elected Clinton.
Bernie Sanders’ theme is that the wealthy are getting wealthier and the poor getting poorer, so it’s time for him to be Robin Hood, but both Sanders and Carville miss the point. "It’s religion, stupid." The "Great Divide" is based more on church-going than economics. Those who worship regularly, especially in less urban areas, tend to be Republicans, and those who don’t attend church, especially in more urban areas, tend to be Democrats. While demographic trends favor the more secular Democrats, the liberals’ preoccupation with such issues as gender-neutral washrooms keeps the "Religious Right" inflamed and motivated to vote.
Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz once opined that war is a continuation of politics by other means. The same philosophy applies to religion — it is a continuation of politics by other means. There are those who believe that the Bible is the literal word of god, and there are those who have never read it. There are those who hope and pray that there is an afterlife and that the next world will be better than this world, and there are those who want gratification right now, not taking the risk.
This all relates back to the historical integration of politics and Jesus Christ, specifically in 325 A.D., and to the outcome of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. There was a momentous conclave in Rome occasioned by the emperor Constantine, who was beset by political unrest in his empire. Jesus had died on the cross, which was how Romans executed political agitators in the Holy Land.
But a cult of Jesus spread westward, and his apostles’ exhortations of goodwill began to conflict with the pagan hegemony. His empire in disarray, Constantine seized upon an opportunistic political solution — let’s integrate Christianity and paganism, create a hybrid religion, make Jesus the son of god who rose from the dead, and me God’s vessel on Earth.
So Constantine called a bunch of clerics from around Europe to Rome and told them, in effect, fix this and fix this now. Jesus had been dead over 300 years, and there were more than 200 "gospels" — written accounts of his life and preachings — floating around. Some made reference to his "companion\" Mary Magdalene and his very mortal life. That had to be obliterated. Constantine needed a New Testament, limited to the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and all others were burned. The crucified Christ became the foundation of the Roman Catholic Church, risen from the dead.
However, at the Council of Nicaea, there was resistance. There were votes taken, many very close. Pagans didn’t capitulate; they wanted their holidays. The celebrated birth date of the pagan Mithras was Dec. 25. Guess who won that vote and replaced him? Rome’s religion was sun worship, the cult of Sol Invictus, and the pagans insisted that the sabbath be on Sunday. Even the pagan goddess Isis had an "immaculate conception" of her son Horus, and Easter was arbitrarily determined.
Constantine shifted the locus of Christianity to Rome, created the Vatican, financed a New Testament Bible, and made his church the vessel to heaven. The resisters, who embraced other gospels, were exterminated as heretics. Constantine’s church, founded on the premise of "brotherly love" and goodwill, spent the next 1,500 years killing everybody who disagreed with them.
The church’s most pernicious and dangerous adversaries were not protesters such as Martin Luther, who objected to certain dogma and wanted to fine tune the Bible, but the Knights Templar, who evolved into the Masons. They believed that Jesus was mortal and that he had a bloodline. As a historical figure, Jesus is believed to be a descendant from the bloodline of King David and King Solomon who had a rightful claim to the throne of the King of the Jews, which the conquering Romans suppressed.
Recent books posit the theory that Jesus had heirs, that they surfaced in southern France as Merovingian kings, and that his bloodline still exists. As if the Catholic Church doesn’t have enough problems, the concept of a mortal Jesus, with his DNA somewhere, is beyond unacceptable.
Which brings us to 2016. America was founded on the concept of religious freedom. Did not the pilgrims dissent from the Church of England, which dissented from the Vatican? It was all about politics. Get rid of the dissidents. Ship them to the New World.
For most of America’s history so-called constitutional separation of church and state has been an illusion. The dominant religious sect has used its influence to control governmental policy. The New England abolitionists sought government intervention to restrict slavery, the Know Nothings were convinced that the Pope would run America, and the pro-Republican Protestants feared that the infusion of European Catholic immigrants would undermine their power, creating Democratic hegemony in urban areas.
Under Barack Obama’s reign, religious polarization has reached new proportions. There are millions of Americans who view government as an enemy. It is perceived to be taking away money, guns and school choice and imposing by edict specific moral choices which churchgoers find repugnant.
Obama has accomplished what Republicans have sought for over a century, a political and secular realignment. Rural, conservative religious voters in overwhelmingly white states such as Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia have abandoned the Democratic Party, while in more secular states like Illinois, Arizona, Nevada and Colorado, the non-religious are hostile to the Republicans.
In the upcoming Clinton-Trump presidential face-off, there is great predictability. Trump is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, but he is not Hillary. He will get the Religious Right vote as the least worst alternative.
The election devolves on just a few states, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Florida and Colorado. In each state, there is a large secular vote. If they go for Clinton on moral issues, she wins the presidency. If they go for Trump on fiscal issues, he wins. The Religious Right is irrelevant.
Send e-mail to russ@russstewart. com or visit his Web site at www. russstewart.com.