Political and religious extremes exist in all countries, and right-wing theocratic-tinged populism has become a powerful force in a number of nations, however I was frankly amazed that several presidential candidates for the Republican Party in the United States would attend an event organised by avowedly militant Christian activists in the midwestern state of Iowa. The National Religious Liberties Conference, managed by lunatic fundamentalist preacher Kevin Swanson, was addressed late last week by Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal and Mike Huckabee, with a number of other prominent GOP figures also in attendance. During the course of numerous speeches and meetings the most extraordinary attacks were launched against the members of the Democratic Party, including of course president Obama, women, non-Christians (excluding Jews, who are apparently required for the biblical apocalypse. Otherwise…) and the gay community. Debates ranged from the threats posed to the US by “cannibalism” and “vampires” to the most scripturally correct method for executing homosexual men and women (stoning versus throwing from a clifftop). These were not “fringe” events on the edges of the main conference, the usual outlier stuff you get at these types of gatherings. These debates were the mainstream.
Rachel Maddow, on the liberal-leaning American network MSNBC, examines some of the more hair-raising things said and pledged at the National Religious Liberties Conference, though it is difficult to believe that any candidate for the US presidency would be willing to swap one of the world’s most successful secular republics for a witch-burning theocratic state overseen by a self-appointed council of fire-an’-brimstone preachers.