Politics has completely eclipsed religion on the pages of newspapers and magazines these days, and all other factors being equal, I think that's a good thing. There has been a relentless attack on Christianity from the primitive evangelical community, who decided to rewrite the Faith Once Given and foist it off on the American people by threatening them with damnation if they don't submit.
I will defend to the death the right of anyone to believe anything, as long as their faith-based behavior does not violate civil law. There are ignorant people who have nothing to draw on when "missionaries" come to their door with a Bible in one hand and a tract in the other. There are fearful, angry people who want someone to sanction their targets and tell them that they can hate and rage all they want. There are stupid people who do not know how to analyze a proposition, religious or otherwise. There are people who simply do not think to consult their pastor or priest before they begin attending services in another congregation.
It is no coincidence that the people who harass and condemn my gay friends are people who have abandoned the faith they grew up in. They became evangelicals or “Christians” as they call themselves, and learned that they could go right ahead and hate their family members who are not evangelical as well. Fortunately, most people react to this kind of treatment by protesting, whether they are straight or gay, that the behavior that the un-Christian relatives display is indefensible. I saw two of my gay friends deal with this more or less successfully, even though it has played out over a number of years.
My friend Daisy tortured herself for years, submitting to an evangelical congregation that promised to pray away her gay. She grew her hair out, stopped her social life, eschewed the Internet and attended services more than once a week. It did not help. She doubled down. Now and then she would give up and return to the Episcopal Church of St. Michael and All Angels in Tucson for a short time, but her "friends" in the evangelical conversation would pester her back into her attempt to be acceptable to them. She is back with us now, and I hope that she will stay away from anyone who wants to make her over into an acceptable version of herself.
My friend Peter spent years worrying about being gay; he developed some physical symptoms such as depression and high blood pressure as he struggled with himself. When he finally entered into a stable relationship, he found the strength to accept himself as he is. But that was only the beginning of dealing with his family. He has cousins and aunts who either plead with him to pray away his gay, or threaten him either with the fires of hell, or with losing his relationship with them. Just lately he has taken the final step of telling these people that if they cannot accept him as he is, they can stay away (and he will do the same). Not unpredictably, some of them are quite frustrated because they were having a good time "witnessing" to him, and now he has taken away their audience.
These two people and their situations are a microcosm of what happened with the American evangelical church. To look at the public face of American evangelicalism, you would think that no one with any intelligence or education could possibly be a member of this subset of denominations. But the dysfunction that affects American evangelicals right now is actually not typical of the worldwide evangelical church. The Global South and its homophobia drew their inspiration from American preachers, who indoctrinated European and African proselytes and sent them back home to do damage to their own communities.
Even so, American politicians consented to pay for the endorsements of major figures in our evangelical movement (and don't you think for one minute that they didn't). And now the tail is wagging the dog. In politics, we see where the Teabaggers have usurped control of a large faction within the Republican Party, which is now dying of that particular infection. It is no secret that the Teabaggers and their corporate sponsors are holding onto what power they have by pure intimidation: "Step out of line and we'll primary you out of office."
So what remains to be seen is how long this is going to last. If enough Republicans in office sense that the Teabaggers are crashing on the stupidity of their non-ideas, they may make a stand; one of two things is going to happen very soon. The first and more likely scenario is a special procedural vote in the House of Representatives that will force the Speaker to put a bill up for a floor vote. The bill would be a resolution to re-open the government by funding it for a period of time (I don't know what that interval would be). This is a rare but legal procedure, and it is more likely than the "profiles in courage" scenario that stands as the alternative.
But the alternative is better. Speaker of the House John Boehner could hardly have a worse reputation than he does right now. But his reputation is subject to many factors; he could turn it around Monday if he wanted to. We use the word "crucify" pretty freely today: we speak of a politician being crucified when he takes an unpopular stand and suffers defeat in the next election, or is forced to resign. That is, of course, what Boehner knows perfectly well: he will be crucified by the Teabaggers if he takes any action on the current government shutdown that they do not like.
That is to say, should Boehner do one single thing to resolve the crisis in American politics, he can expect to be flogged in the conservative media and primaried if he stands for election again. He may also be voted out as Speaker and replaced by someone acceptable to the "representatives" who think that it is their duty to pick up where Osama bin Laden left off, and destroy the American government.
You can't destroy America by blowing up buildings, so instead of violence the stupid wing of the Republican Party thinks to destroy America by reducing our government to an ineffectual group of people with no money to spend...with the exception of salaries for the Senate and the House, of course. But this is not going to happen.
Don't even consider the possibility that President Barack Obama, a Constitutional scholar, does not know what he can and cannot do under our laws. Taking extreme measures ought to be reserved for extreme situations; Obama is obviously waiting, hoping that the Republican Party as a whole will get a grip and put itself in order. It doesn't look like that is going to happen, though, which is why I predict that the forced vote in the House of Representatives is going to happen.
After that, the right-wing media will have a field day and I think that their purple prose will finally break down. Most people have seen through the conservative talking heads by now, anyway. It may take one hard slap in the face to the Teabaggers to send them spinning wildly off into nowhere. I mean, they won't actually have to spin all that far; they are almost at Nowhere right now.