n 1536 a new religious order was founded by a dissenter of the Roman Catholic Church. His name was John Calvin. It's a name that's not widely associated with modern events, but, in reality, it's a name that is far more relevant to current political and social beliefs than people realize.
Calvin taught that all humans are born in sin and depravity, and most will never achieve salvation regardless of how hard they may try. People are, by nature, morally and spiritually incapable of redeeming themselves with God. The Puritans in early America fully ascribed to this doctrine. While many current religions promote variations of this belief, Calvinism goes a step further.
Calvinists believe that only certain people are elected by God to be saved. It is who these "predestined" or "elected" people are that the working classes should be concerned with. The elect are those who have acquired material wealth and success; and all others, particularly the poor, are loafers or parasites who deserve society's scorn rather than help. Only when these people take responsibility for their own weaknesses will their position in life be changed.
While a majority of evangelical fundamentalists today believe that most sinners can be saved if they submit fully to God, it is the wealthy and successful who are most favored. They have equated this favored status with free market capitalism as the highest order of godliness; and that the sinful of society are the poor, elderly, and most vulnerable because of the choices they made.
It's demonstrated by their strident opposition, particularly in the South, to any government spending on unemployment assistance, health care for the poor, and assistance to the sick and elderly. They continue to elect politicians who seek to eliminate expanded health care, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
It's not hard to see why the religious right and the Republican Party are so close in ideology and religious belief. The agenda of the Republican Party corresponds almost to a word, with the Religious Right doctrine of a predestined elite that must prevail over a sinful and undeserving society. It translates into an agenda of contempt and vilification of any governmental efforts to enact or retain social programs that help the most vulnerable. It's an agenda that demands the least possible government, but supports the wealthy with well-deserved tax cuts and subsidies.
It can also be seen in the scurrilous legislation enacted by Republican-dominated state legislatures to use all means necessary to suppress voter turnout. Its voter suppression is aimed exclusively at those segments of society that the Republican agenda must marginalize. It's an agenda that will one day ensure that a far-right Republican America will have finally succeeded in assuming its firm control over the masses.
They believe that since the Rapture is near, it's OK to plunder our natural resources for their material wealth, defile the environment with unregulated pollution and destruction, and exploit all opportunities for profit and wealth regardless of the negative social consequences. This, of course, will enhance the predestined elite to obtain their well deserved salvation.
All others, including the nonbelievers, loafers, parasites, and us natural born sinners, will be dealt with accordingly when the end-times arrive.
It's remarkable that in the face of what Jesus taught, which was so clearly described in the New Testament, that men can construct directly opposite interpretations to support their own ideological interests and bigotry. This is precisely the case with today's religious right and the Republican Party. Only the wealthy and successful deserve to provide the rightful leadership of the country. The rest of society is predestined to an ignominious life of acceptance.
Anyone who believes that the Republican and religious right somehow reconciled their ideology with the teachings of Jesus has simply chosen to ignore what Jesus actually said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
If the Republican Tea Party succeeds in imposing its agenda on society, we should be prepared to live under a cold, insensitive, and cruel social order comparable to what existed throughout history. While such a draconian society would meet stiff resistance in a democracy such as ours, we should be aware that the forces that strive for these ends are always present.
Jack Allen lives in Roy and is a member of the Weber County Coffee Party.