Monday, July 25, 2005


Give me liberty or give me theocracy

Via Fred at Slacktivist, who found it through Pretty Fakes, a decent article from the New Yorker on Patrick Henry College (motto: For Christ and For Liberty), which was created as a conduit for Evangelical home school kids to become the next wave of Christian right leaders and politicians.

I will quibble about one part of the article:
Farris is fifty-three but seems younger, with thick brown hair and a slightly amused expression. He and his wife, Vickie, began to homeschool their children (they have ten) in 1982, and the next year he founded the Home School Legal Defense Association, to challenge state laws that made it difficult to homeschool children. In 1993, he ran, unsuccessfully, for lieutenant governor of Virginia. At the time, evangelicals had yet to emerge as a national political force; many preferred to keep their distance from secular culture, which is one reason that Patrick Henry parents educated their children at home.

because that's exactly what I heard someone claim about the rise of the Moral Majority in the 70s, leading directly to Reagan's election in 1980. The religious right is decidedly not a new phenomenon, nor are "holier than thou" protestations by our politicians.

Nonetheless, it's a gut-wrenching article, especially with the profiles of these Stepford Christian students. I mean, we all know that each of these students has at least one significant burden to bear in the world, and given how driven they are, they must bear the burden alone (although to an extent, really we all have to). Among the 300 students you will have your assortment of clinically depressed, abused, abusive, gay, very gay, fat, athiestic, lazy, feminist, non-virgin, bulimic, pedophilic, socialist, racist, transgender, and MTV loving sorts. And lots & lots & lots of chronic masturbators. In many ways, they're just a highly stylized version of the Mormon Church. It's impossible to know whether the model will ultimately fail after the founder dies or gets caught in a dead-boy-prostitute scandal; it's certainly possible that it will survive and even thrive due to the necessities of the market. And more likely than not, most of the graduates will excel in their right-wing political and courtship-to-marriage-to-first-kiss, never adulterous lives. Lots of people live like that and die happy, relatively secure in their knowledge that they will be rewarded in the afterlife.

And that's what is, to me, pretty sad: a life spent never giving in to temptation, never falling from grace. I read somewhere once how bizarre an experience it is for the children of the 70s Evangelical movement, the one that put such an emphasis on saving the sinners, giving meaning to the empty lives of the burned out promiscuous Me Generation types, to go to their Christian youth rallies. These kids grow up hearing so much about the wonderment of the conversion experience (much like the gays have with the coming out process) and yet never get to experience it themselves -- how weird must that feel? And at the rallies, they call people up to testify that they are here, at that moment, giving up their former doubts and accepting Christ as their personal saviors and getting applauded and these kids who were baptized at birth and born again at six are like "ummmmm, where's my applause?" And worse, with these bright kids, there's the harrowing experience of Doubt, the enemy of the Christian right and the thing that causes nearly every one of the PHC kids to bolt up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, knowing they're not allowed to share this or even really confront it within themselves, hoping it will just go away, at least long enough so that they can get through the night, then the next day, then the next year, then the rest of their lives without going ape-shit crazy because their theology doesn't, in the end, make all that much sense.

I don't know. Mostly, I think, I would like for there to be a study on how frequently the PHC kids masturbate. Seriously. My guess is that it's pretty damn often, just like with any set of people in that age bracket, and if so, and the study were to be publicized, it could spell the end for the school, an end that I personally would be glad to see, given the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-science tripe that these kids ingest and then regurgitate, and given the administration that they blindly support.

Speaking of which: just curious about how many of the kids decided to go into the Army after graduation. The article didn't mention it.

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