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The Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party

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Appeal of the Religious Right
A Sense of Belonging

The goal of dominion is alien to moderate Republicans and may not be shared by many members of fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches. These church members should be made aware of how they are being politically manipulated by their leadership.

It's important to note that there are good reasons why so many people join fundamentalist, Pentecostal and charismatic churches. First of all, many of the churches I visited had very lively services which I enjoyed; that is until the preacher started talking about Satan, the role of women, the biblical call to beat children, the Rapture, or God's mandate to get involved politically.

These churches have been very successful in helping people give up drug addictions. And people have told me that the quality of their lives improved significantly once they took Jesus Christ as their Savior. This personal relationship with Christ can be a very positive experience, especially when it infuses one's life with a sense of a loving light.

And most of all, the churches offer practitioners a real sense of belonging. Whenever I attended church services, I was always warmly greeted by people who gave me a sense that if I joined, I would never feel alone. This sense of belonging goes right to the core of one of the most troubling aspects of our modern, affluent society - a feeling of alienation. It is this need to belong and have a higher purpose to life which is, unfortunately, being politically exploited by the Religious Right.

Some of the Church services I have attended have been very emotional. Sometimes members seem to be ecstatic. Some of the churches appear to offer a kind of group catharsis, not unlike some forms of therapy. In a time of great stress, the Holy Laughter Movement, which encourages deep belly laughing and weeping, is growing rapidly. The Holy Laughter Movement makes me think of the physician, Patch Adams who advocates healing through laughter. There is a reason so many people are drawn to these ministries, and it's useful to understand the appeal.

Read story by Joan Bokaer called Getting Saved in Amarillo.

This article about the popularity of the Passion Experience for young people demonstrates the appeal of the form of Passion Experienceworship found in Pentecostal and charismatic churches. This worship can be a positive experience if it is not overlain with a political message that is anti-women, anti-environment, anti-arms control, anti-social justice, and anti-democratic. Unfortunately, a joyful experience becomes grounds for political manipulation. Photographer: Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times.

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Last updated: July- 2003