Debate:How mainstream is the religious right?

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Anger With a Tinge of Pity[edit]

Don't get me wrong... I dislike Conservapedia with a zeal. For the love of Imaginary Jebus, they compare the Theory of Evolution to the Holocaust!

But at the same time, I pity these people. Think about it folks... they are that backwards that they think that they hold victory by deleting every article that isn't conservative enough. They honestly think that if they don't put it in their "trustworthy encyclopedia" that they can believe it out of existence.

Again I say, don't get me wrong... I legitimately want these people to contract the most inconvenient form of diabetes possible. But yet, I pity them. Because they actually THINK like this.

Your ideas?— Unsigned, by: BillO / talk / contribs

They're a tiny tiny minority of religious conservatives in the United States and basically speak to and for nobody. We're probably responsible for half the hits on the site in the last 2.5 years. The only reason you're aware of them is that they've got a disproportionately loud mouth with which to shame themselves. I don't have any ill will for the conservapedians, but like you I pity anyone who would waste time involved in such a wasteful project with such hateful, paranoid, and talentless company. I'll just continue laughing at their antics and hope that TK finally moves on so Andy has to defend himself more often. Andy's rhetorical skillz are both the funniest and saddest thing I've ever seen in my life. Do you think Andy was such a cretin when he was in law school? Nutty Roux100x100 anarchy symbol.svg 15:43, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I wouldn't wish diabetes or any disease on anyone, no matter how much I disliked them. Although Conservapedia is a tiny minority, they are representative of a much larger constituency particularly in the southern states. Andy has become increasingly bizarre since he started Conservapedia. To my mind it is really quite incredible that someone with degrees in engineering and the law can be so so blinded by his cultural prejudices as to be utterly dumb. Phyllis Snr. must take a large part of the blame for that.  Lily Inspirate me. 15:58, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Tiny? Representative of a fringe minority? Or representative of a fundamental element of American political life?. Hell, the mainstream media and many elected officials have embraced many of CPs positions--creationism, birther-ism, Obama is a socialist/Muslim. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 16:06, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
-ism. Likewise, I'd never wish any physical harm to them, but their general attitude to dissent and the way they deal with criticism is sickening. As many people have noted, TK is basically raping the site with his mouse-clickin' finger. Wiggles (talk) 17:17, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Not even head cancer? --Kels (talk) 17:32, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Where the fuck are you guys from? These people are not a tiny minority, not by any means. They're quite significant. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 17:34, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
ToP, those links...well, to think that a network like that actually exists, and if what Wikipedia said is to be believed, almost seems like something out of a novel. It's creepy, to tell you the truth. It sets off too many red flags...or my Tinfoil hat isn't screwed on right. Let me check. -- CodyH (talk) 17:44, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Alright--never mind the links. A creationist who thinks humans co-existed with dinosaurs ran for VP on a major-party ticket last year. The candidate who was elected President had THREE separate prayers at his inauguration. Mainstream corporate media outlets think it's okay to give airtime to the Birther movement, to people who acccuse the President of being a fascist and to people who argue that the government wants to euthanize hte elderly. The government has prayer breakfasts, the question of whether or not to teach fundamental scientific ideas like evolution is open for debate in some states, the president says his religious beliefs preclude him from getting behind same-sex marriage. How again is CP representative of a fringe element? I have seen the American mainstream. Glenn Beck is their leader and CP is all the things they're ashamed to admit in polite company but hold in their hearts as truth. WHAT'S WITH ALL THE FUCKING PRAYING IN CONGRESS?!?!?!?TheoryOfPractice (talk) 18:56, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
The only reason a creationist who thinks humans co-existed with dinosaurs ran for VP on a major-party ticket last year was because the presidential candidate needed to throw his base a bone. Look how Palin embarrassed herself and her cause during the campaign. You have media outlets talking nonsense a) because you have freedom of speech and b) because that's what media outlets do. I half agree with what you're saying, but lumping all of CP together is simply wrong. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 19:08, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

undent. "The only reason a creationist who thinks humans co-existed with dinosaurs ran for VP on a major-party ticket last year was because the presidential candidate needed to throw his base a bone." I agree--because the base of the Republican party is mainstream America, and not some loony fringe group. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 19:11, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

No... that's exactly the mistake they keep making. I have absolutely no problem with the traditional base of the Republicans. It was Ronald Raygun who widened things to the extent where swivel-eyes maniacs were included in his party, and then it was apathy on behalf of the traditional base that let them get so powerful. What would the founders of the Republican Party think of its modern incarnation? They'd be horrified!
What recent Republican strategy has been successful in doing is linking traditional issues until they seem to be indivisible. You support any control of guns? Then you hate God. You think there may have been errors in invading Iraq? Then you hate your country. By repeating these beliefs, you're sustaining them. The actual number of swivel-eyed maniacs is not that big. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 19:18, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Bullshit TheoryOfPractice (talk) 19:24, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Moar — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 19:33, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Are you both that naive? Refutation! Disraeli made the same point a century ago. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 19:59, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Wow. A thirty-year-old BBC comedy sketch. terribly relevant. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 20:04, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

It's relevant because the same methods get used today. FILM AT ELEVEN! Right-wing news organisation obtains support for right-wing idea! FILM AT TWELVE! Left-wing news organisation gets the opposite result! Using opinion polls for almost anything issue-based is a worthless exercise. "Do you support the murder of innocent fetusus?" vs "Do you support the rights of women to chose the course of their pregnancy?" "Do you support the right of the US to protect itself?" vs "Do you think the US has a right to invade any country it believes threatens it?" Come on! SuspectedReplicant (talk) 20:11, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Exactly. And those scare-tactic methods worked, and created a mainstream US electorate and a mainstream political discourse that hew far to the right and embrace nutball positions liker Birther-ism and creationism. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 20:16, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Your arguments on HOW we ended up with this situation probably hit close to the mark, in that the right has succeeded since the 1980s in pulling political discourse and the centre further and further over to its side--I'm certainly not about to deny that this whole state of affairs has a history. And the need for internet outlets and 24-hour-news-networks to fill time gives people who would ordinarily not have a platform the kind of media access they would not have had previously. That being said, there's little doubt that the former has influenced the shape of latter--when's the last time you saw someone from the American Communist Party or any other left-wing/radical/socialist group on CNN or Fox? America has moved so far to the right that the mainstream looks dangerous now. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 20:03, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
(EC) Any time you want an eye-opening experience of the mid-west (not even the south!), my couch is open. Until then, it's you who are naive. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:05, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Apologies - ECs about here and I'm not ignoring you. I'm sure you have a greater experience of the Deep South than I (I have none, so it's pretty damn likely) but I have an experience of the London underclass, which has all the racism without the bible-bashing. It's easy to stereotype ALL SE Londoners as racist, homophobic, unintelligent scum (very easy) but it's not true. There are a lot of people who simply don't think that way but go along with a group belief to make things easy. I simply can't believe that everybody - or even 90% - of people in a geographic area think one way. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 20:15, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

Nobody's saying that. What we're saying is that CP doesn't represent some weirdo fringe that you can dismiss out of hand. The ideas they embrace, crazy as they are, have real resonance in American politics and matter to enough people (I won't play a guessing game to say how many) that they have to be taken seriously. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 20:25, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

No worries at all. You're still not getting the reality of this. I can't swing a cat in my office without hitting at least five creationists. I can't drive 5 minutes without seeing a jesus fish on the bumper of a car (maybe half an hour for a jesus fish eating a darwin reptile). From my house I can hit two churches with a golf ball where they speak in tongues and roll around on the floor. This is less than an hour from my house, and it's always got a decent (and believing from my experience there) crowd. I'm glad you give the US credit, but you're just flat out wrong. 90%? no... where I live ("mid-west"), maybe 30%. In the south, maybe 55%. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:19, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Then why am I surrounded by them? — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 19:21, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Exactly the case. Andy et. al may have jack-all power and influence, but they are representative of a much larger set of people. For God's sake, look at the whole Birther movement and the Teabaggers, spurred on by cable news. Look at all the racists and xenophobes that rallied behind McCain (to his chagrin). Look at the republicans treating Canadian-style healthcare as if it were apocalyptic. PubliusTalk 17:58, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Sorry to be a newbie butting in, but I think you're missing the point a bit. To lump all Conservapedians together is like trying to group all Republicans or Democrats. I've been a lurker on CP for some time (although probably not as long as you lot) and I think there are:
  • Parodists. Led by TK, the King of parodists in whose name all parody is done.
  • Believers. ASchlafly is the best example... or he used to be. He honestly believes that WP is biased (TBH, he has a point) and wants an alternative. Unfortunately in his case, paranoia has taken over.
  • Evangelists. Conservative really, really, really believes that his drivel influences people. Does anybody think the other CPers regard him as anything other than embarrassing?
  • Copy and Pasters. RJJensen. His stuff is actually pretty good but it's just copied from stuff he wrote earlier. He'd rather do it on CP because (almost) nobody will disagree with him, whereas on WP he'd be challenged and edited.
Of that lot, only groups 2 and 3 are likely to vote together, and even there they might vote differently in primaries depending on how fast the eyeballs of the candidates spin around. RJJensen and his ilk might vote Republican but they would probably vote for some kinds of Democrat and also probably find some of the weirder parts of CP quite disturbing.
Okay... I'm taking this far too seriously. I'll go away again now. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 18:23, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Schlafly and crew are not representative of anyone but a fringe minority; they love to pretend they are, but the vast majority of the people they claim support them only agree with them on one point, viz., that the loony left are loonier than the Conservapedians. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:42, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
I'd say this is simply ignorance about the American populace at large. 1/4 of Texans polled think he's a cryptomuslim. Most old people think he wasn't born in the US. About a third of the people in my office building think the earth is 6,000 years old. Don't know where you live, but it must be nice. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 18:54, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
A university chum of mine married an American girl from Boston (the same one who helped me hop the last 5 miles of the Bogle Stroll in 1972). They moved there after they were married and when his younger brother came over to visit he asked where were all the people in cowboy hats and boots. "Don't be silly, nobody dresses like that any more in America" she said. Then they moved to Houston and was gobsmacked to find out how little she knew of her own country. She had assumed most of America was culturally similar to the north-eastern states. I'm not American but over the years have travelled around quite a bit, particularly in the lower states, and I have worked with a lot of hick Americans from those areas. There is a sizable population who subscribe to the same values of Conservapedia but they tend to get overlooked by the Europeans who stick to the larger and more cosmopolitan cities and regard Salt Lake City as a curiosity. CP is small but there are lost of people who watch Fox News, listen to tele-evangelists and still believe there is a commie threat out to get them. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 20:25, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
In Minnesota we still have a liturgical majority, but all over the country the people at Conservapedia levels of looniness have to run in small packs. In God's Politics, Jim Wallis said that the abortion issue is the only reason their so-called supporters vote Republican at all. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 21:27, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Which reminds me of some "fun" I had on a right-wing blog. Someone proudly proclaimed that the only reason they voted Republican was because they were anti-abortion. I pointed out the GOP is never going to seriously try to outlaw abortion because they want to keep her demographic, and she didn't disagree, she just said it didn't matter. Sigh. I don't mind _them_ getting the government they deserve, but I have to put up with it, too. --Gulik (talk) 23:26, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
As Garrison Keillor wrote, "It's called democracy, boys." Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 23:33, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
(Relatively) ree and fair elections (even those where only two parties ever have a chance at winning and one particular demographic is vastly over-represented) may be a necessary precondition for democracy, but they =/= democracy. TheoryOfPractice (talk) 23:36, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

(UNINDENT) Precisely what else is required for a democracy, then? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 02:18, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Democracy means rule by all, free and fair elections is the best approximation we have found so far. - π 02:24, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

Confusion Remover[edit]

Let's move this down here... I'm getting confused what goes where now.

I apologise the TOP and NeverUse - I overstated my knowledge of the US political system. I have never visited the States, and while I have a way, way, way above average knowledge of the situation for a UK citizen, it can't come close to the level of a US resident.

Having said that, I still don't think it's fair to paint all CPers with the same brush. I'll stipulate the existence of whole communities where creationism is The Only Way, and where Democrats Are Evil, but I don't see that on CP. Many of the denizens of that great site are certainly mad, but I could probably have a conversation with RJJensen and have both of us emerge having learned something. Anyway. Looks like I've had my first argument on this site! It was fun. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 20:29, 3 August 2009 (UTC)

(update) DAMN - you actually caught me with that block! SuspectedReplicant (talk) 20:29, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
No need to apologize. I just get this impression from Europeans a lot. I'm not saying that they all buy the whole package, just that there are significant portions of people who subscribe to each of these ideas. As sad as it is, it's not really 'fringe'. The idea that the earth is 6000 years old - not fringe. The idea that Obama is a Kenyan - not fringe. Obama is going to take ur guns - not fringe (try to buy ammo at Wal-Mart and ask why they have none). etc... — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 20:37, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Re-reading... I think we agree on the essentials. I'd definitely agree from what I know that there are certain areas of America where weird opinions are the norm, and that they tend to be in areas where Republicans do well. It's still with CP that I disagree a bit. Look at the number of resignations of admins: various people quit because their own brand of insanity wasn't favoured. As a simple comparison, look at PJR's brand of insanity compared to Schlafly's: The latter seems to view any deviation from his views as... deviant and punishment-worthy; The former is at least prepared to discuss options.
I guess I went from that to talking about America in general. I find it hard to believe that there really are communities where everything on CP would be considered Truth, but OTOH, I can't state that it isn't true. If there are such places, please let me know so I never inadvertently visit one should I ever come to the states. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 20:52, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Yes, I think we're understanding eachother more now. Every heard about Utah? — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 21:01, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
About two months ago (I think) there was an article on the BBC:From Our Own Correspondent about how Europeans don't realise that a good-sized chunk of America are either half-thick or half-insane (OK they didn't use those words) but the point was that people watch things like Seinfeld, ER or Sex And The City, visit California and NY, and think most of the US is hip and smart but are completely ignorant of the rural midwest & south where things can be a little different. Top Gear's tasteless stunt to drive from Miami to New Orleans in old cars with liberal slogans actually shows some of the darker side of the south. And this book - The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right gives an in-depth look on how things have changed (You can read the review at Amazon. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 21:20, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Ah. Fair point. Damn. /me slinks away with tail between legs SuspectedReplicant (talk) 21:24, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Oh don't take it like that. It's not a question of defeat, it's a learning experience. We have a wide range of people here with different cultural, educational, religious and just plain life-experience backgrounds - it's what makes this site interesting. Redchuck.gif ГенгисYou have the right to be offended; and I have the right to offend you. 21:50, 3 August 2009 (UTC)
Oops - bad joke didn't work. I meant it in the vaguely comedic sense of "Oh. Utah. I'd forgotten about them..." but now I read it again, it's not funny and even with the explanation is still not funny. Ah well. Ho hum. SuspectedReplicant (talk) 17:34, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Genghis, there are almost more colleges in the Upper Midwest than there are churches. On the other hand California is overstuffed with cranks, which is why politics out there is such a mess. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 17:43, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
"midwest" is such a fucked up term that I'm sure most people outside of the US don't understand. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 17:52, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
For me "midwest" means Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. Is that right? SuspectedReplicant (talk) 17:55, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
It's more like the north central US. It's horribly archaic. You'd be best to check here. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 18:00, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
That's about right, though I've never considered the Dakotas to be midwest.--PitchBlackMind (talk) 18:01, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
(EC2) Way off. The Census Bureau includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. The Upper Midwest is Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota (some people throw in Iowa and the Dakotas as well). (Archaic, Neveruse513? What do you mean, archaic?) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:03, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Srsly? It's in the north east. At some point in time, it was the midwest of america, but sure as hell not now. — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 18:13, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I thought you meant that no one used it anymore. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 18:14, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Looks like it's not just Europeans who get confused! SuspectedReplicant (talk) 18:16, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
eh...yeah, I guess archaic wasn't the right word. I think I was going for arcane, maybe? — Signed, by: Neveruse513 / Talk / Block 18:16, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

<-- In US history, IIRC, the "northwest territories" were the lands ceded by Britain after the revolutionary war that weren't part of states - all of which, of course, was east of the Mississippi. ħumanUser talk:Human 22:15, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

This map should make it clear ;) ħumanUser talk:Human 22:16, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

European perspective[edit]

As people have already pointed out, the European perspective (including British) of American politics and culture is skewed heavily towards the more sophisticated (and liberal) cities and massive US enterprise with splashes of mom's apple pie, tele-evangelism, banjo-playing, Daisy Duke, creationism, guns and Jesus bumper stickers. We tend to think that the latter lot are anachronisms, representative of a bygone era and as culturally important to America as cockney rhyming slang is to the English - that is part of the nation's cultural identity but no longer especially relevant.

What shocks us is when Americans tell us that the latter lot is representative of a significant proportion of the US population, not just in an historical sense but in the here and now.

This article by the BBC's departing chief US correspondent after eight years is very interesting. It shows just how contradictory we Europeans can find America. Ajkgordon (talk) 08:06, 4 August 2009 (UTC)

When I tell my Spanish students that only 13% of Americans believe on a wholly naturalistic evolutionary process or that around 50% believe the Earth is only 10,000 old they simply don't believe me.--BobNot Jim 09:34, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
This we'll defend. -- CodyH (talk) 13:39, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
Might I say that there is an enormous difference between being a young-earth creationist (which involves denying facts) and thinking that God was an influence in the evolutionary process (more a philosophical difference than anything else). Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 16:42, 4 August 2009 (UTC)
I'm sure there is. But according to all the polls I've seen around 50% of Americans think the earth is less than 10,000 years old. They're not talking about some sort of minor miraculous fiddling there.--BobNot Jim 17:12, 4 August 2009 (UTC)