Today’s news of the union of old-school Anglican and traditional Catholicism is not a triumph of faith. It is the religious right, circling the wagons in a final showdown for God, faith, and the sacred coffers that keep it all going. We are witnessing ‘the last round-up’ of the Christian ultra-conservatives, and it’s going to get interesting.
While their activists can be louder and angrier than most moderates, their numbers are dwindling. In the world they wished to convert, we see straight common-law relationships on the rise and gays wanting to marry. No one is repenting, and no one seems to understand the ‘evil’ they see rising in our midst. Even abortion clinics— a long-time bastion of right-wing anger— seem impervious to their contempt. R. v. Wade is safe and sound in Obama’s care.
Before the right-wing forsake this world to the demons of moderate thought, however, there is a Hail Mary pass that has to be tried. Since Hellfire and Damnation has failed to woo our society from PS3 games, porn sites, and evolution, Pope Benedict is now looking to an old adversary,the Anglicans, to increase his numbers.
It makes sense. After all, the original rift between the two faiths was personal, not doctrinal. Henry VIII simply wanted a divorce, which Pope Paul would not condone. But there were no doctrinal arguments between Rome and Henry VIII. In fact, though he was excommunicated and made the head of his own church, Henry kept England closer to Catholic teaching than most European monarchs during the age of reformation. As such, they are the first, best place for Benedict to look for allies.
The real question here is: Why now? What would move both of these faiths to decide— at the same time— to suddenly set aside centuries of animosity to form an alliance against moderates? Catholic Archbishop Di Noia explained this mystery to CNN by saying simply: “The Holy Spirit is at work here.”
If you are Christian, I suppose this might make sense. However, while perusing the other stories on CNN, I came across a far better explanation for this sudden embrace within right-wing Christianity, and it has nothing to do with gay marriage or female ministers. In fact, I don’t think the move to unite far-right Christianity has anything to do with the age-old fears of gay sex and a world dominated by lackadaisical evil. There is something else scaring the Hell out of the fire-and-brimstone crowd now: Competition.
(CNN) — Nearly one in four people worldwide is Muslim — and they are not necessarily where you might think, according to an extensive new study that aims to map the global Muslim population… (link)
Islam is far more right-wing than any Christian counterpart. With 1-in-4 religious people in the world falling under its sway, Rome is going to be hard-pressed to maintain moral relevance as Islam moves deeper into the West. Should it take hold as predicted, Islam is going to make Vatican II look like the Rainbow Coalition.
Right now it’s a matter of numbers. Like Richard readying for war with Saladin, Pope Benedict is trying to strengthen his troops and secure his territory before the battle begins. And it is coming… this battle for right-wing supremacy. At best, the moderates are going to be able to watch it with bemused smiles and detached indifference. At worst, this war of ideology will spill into the streets, challenging every protection under the law in an attempt to strip the world of the right not to be involved.
In the end that’s the real fear… no matter who wins this. If there’s one thing that all conservative religions have in common it is a need to have every person’s altar, bedroom, and life remade in lock-step with what they believe to be good and right and true.
It’s going to get interesting…