Who is framing the way you think?
Have you ever asked yourself that question? That set of beliefs that you hold, the principles that give direction to your life, who is sharpening those for you? Who is framing the box in which you find yourself?
Have you ever watched someone lay concrete? The mixture of sand, concrete, and water cannot become a sidewalk without a box-like frame constructed to give the ooze a chance to harden.
People are like that, too. Without a solid framework around us, the knowledge that we acquire will ooze in all kinds of different directions. In order to control the flow, we need a framework, a box if you will, to give us shape. The more you read, the more you listen, the more you ponder, the more the concrete of your foundation begins to harden.
But it is not the concrete that shapes the sidewalk. No, it is the frame.
Who is framing the way you think?
I cut my political teeth on Rush Limbaugh. Like most Americans, I really didn�t become interested in politics and politicians until I was well into my thirties. When Rush burst onto the scene in the late 1980�s America was ripe for a rightward turn, and he became the purveyor of a new political ideology, modern conservatism. A product of the hippie generation, and recently born-again, I was drawn to the new-truth that Rush was espousing. Rush Limbaugh, more than any other American, has helped to steer the nation back to sanity.
Speaking of sanity, Sean Hannity burst onto the scene a few years later. A fresh voice with all-American good looks, Sean began to invade our living rooms nightly on the start-up Fox News Channel. Full of enthusiasm and chanting the �Republican good, Democrat bad mantra,� he began to �Hannitize� America and helped us focus our guns at the evil �liberals.� �Conservative good, liberal bad� became the second stanza of the song he sang in galvanizing America�s rightward drift.
Enter the �No-spin zone� a safe haven for independent thinkers, or so we were told. �We�re looking out for you� was the tag-line upon which Bill O�Reilly hung his hat, and by the millions we tuned in every night to hear Bill bloviate on the problems of the day.
Like a pressure value in a steam engine, these three men took to the air-waves and provided a �venting station� where average Americans let of stream. This triumvirate, as much as anyone else, gave us President Bush and his new form of government. �Compassionate conservatism� became the magic carpet that carried President Bush into the Whitehouse.
Fast forward to 2006. The same Republican cheerleaders, (O�Reilly claims to be independent), who greased the skids for Bush�s magic carpet ride, today are the same voices that pooper-scoop away the debris the Bush presidency has left on the rug. Rush leads the pack with over 500 radio stations. Hannity is no slouch with hundreds of stations and a nightly nationally-broadcast TV show. O�Reilly is the darling of Fox News Channel, and for three hours a day sits behind a microphone and broadcasts his radio show all across America sharing his spin on the news of the day. These three men dominate the AM airwaves in most American cities.
Invariably, if you are having a conversation around the water-cooler at work, the names of these three opinionators are sure to come up as well as a �Did you hear what Rush said� introduction to an opinion about to be offered by a talk-radio sycophant prepared to tell you all that is bad about the � Liberals.�
Here is the problem. Most church-going Christians are more likely to quote Rush, Hannity, or O�Reilly, than they are Mathew, Mark, Luke, or John. As many Christian leaders have gone silent on the great issues of the day, choosing instead to focus on �your best life now,� or �a purpose driven life,� or the latest Dr. Phil drivel, slowly but surely The Three Puppeteers, (Rush, Sean, and Bill,) have become the American-cultural thermostat, explaining to us who and what is right. Trusting in their �gospel of conservativism� we have found that the magic carpet was nothing more than an old throw-rug.
Most pastors and church leaders are Johnny-Come-Latelies to the idea of Christian involvement in politics. Convinced for years that the church should stay away from political influence, their recent engagement with the culture has been steered by veteran �conservatives,� and the novice church leaders have been unable to spot a fraud. Unsure of their role, and uncomfortable in the battle, they have hired mercenaries to fight the battle for them. These mercenaries come to the church speaking Christian-ese, and unknowingly the �evangelicals� have allowed the salt of conservativism to frame their principles.
You see, conservativism is counterfeit salt. It looks like salt, sounds like salt, reacts like salt, but it is a phony. Conservativism is not Christianity. Christianity challenges evil. Conservativism blends in with evil. Christianity is dogmatic. Conservatism is pragmatic. Christianity draws a line in the sand. Conservativism wants to own the sand. Did you ever wonder why some folks call themselves �Christian� conservatives?
Unfortunately, thanks to The Three Puppeteers, more Christians are likely to identify themselves as conservatives, than Christians. Why not? They get most of their ideas from the Puppeteers.
I�ve heard Rush slyly associate himself with the name Christian. Hannity is a �Catholic Christian,� and the O�Reilly�s religious foundation is also Catholicism. Only God knows the condition of their soul, but I think it would be safe to say that Bible reading is not high on the list of priorities of any of the three as they guide their flocks. They are conservatives who identify with Christianity. They are not by any stretch of the imagination Bible-believers. They are spreading a gospel that is void of the Spirit. Yet the foundational beliefs of millions of Christians are being formed by the �gospel of conservatism� from Pastor Bill, Pastor Sean, and Pastor Rush.
How else can you explain the fact that so many Americans think that President Bush is Christian-in-Chief? In a startling survey of 614 Senior Pastors by George Barna, President Bush was ranked third when pastors selected those having the most influence on the church. That�s right, President Bush, according to the survey, influenced the church more than, Dobson, Maxwell, Robertson, and Falwell. Pardon me, but shouldn�t the church leaders be influencing President Bush? Don�t we have it backwards? Is it any wonder �conservativism� is the new religion, and Christianity has moved to the back of the bus? Conservativism, as preached from the pulpits of The Three Puppeteers has become the salt of the church, and President Bush has becomes it�s pope.
I spent five years hosting a talk-show on a large �Christian� radio station in Columbus. Pass The Salt was billed as a �look at today�s issues from a Christian perspective.� From 2000 to 2005, I spent my energy railing against the un-holy alliance between the church and the Republican Party. Calling the church to stand for Truth, to come out of their stained-glass fortresses, to oppose evil, and to be God�s spokesman, made me scores of enemies. The final straw came when I began to question the Christian golden-boy, G.W. Bush. That was almost too much for the church to take. Pointing out where his walk did not match his talk, and chastising Christians for blindly toeing the party line, bordered on blasphemy. He was God�s man, and compassionate conservativism was our new religion. Why would they want to hear me point out land mines when they could listen to The Three Puppeteers tell them everything was all right? Weary of fighting the �church of the status quo� I happily moved on to a less �republican� station.
Put on your dreaming cap with me. Imagine Jesus Christ was president of the United States. What would his presidency look like? What would his agenda be? I would wager, (oops, not very Christian) that his first executive actions would involve:
Where do President Bush and the conservatives stand on these issues?
When South Dakota passed a ban on all abortions President Bush opposed it because he is �pro-life with exceptions.� In other words, he is pro-choice, same as O�Reilly.
When Americans in eleven states passed marriage amendments defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman, President Bush said he was for civil unions.
When a terrorist in a black robe in Dover, Pennsylvania said that teaching creationism in public school was unconstitutional, President Bush talked about appointing judges who were �originalists,� whatever that means.
Shortly after Judge Roy Moore lost his job over the posting of the 10 Commandments, President Bush appointed Judge Moore�s prosecutor, Bill Pryor, to the Federal bench.
And, in the name of compassion, the Bush administration has spent money in a way that would make Michael Jackson quiver. Instead of tax and spend, it has become borrow and spend.
To steal a line from the president, the conservatives are either with us, or they are against us.
Now all of the polls say that the Republicans are in trouble. Compassionate conservatism turned out to be nothing more that �Democrat lite.� No matter how much The Three Puppeteers tell us everything is great, that the Republicans have a plan, that the economy is booming, and that we are winning the war, the counterfeit salt has been exposed for the fraud that it is.
But the Republicans do have a plan. As the election draws near they will once again back their trucks up to the doors of the church and beg their �conservative� friends to please help them fill their trucks with genuine salt. They�ll begin to talk about abortion, gambling, marriage, and spending and watch the pastors open the tipples and fight to prevent the evil �liberals� from gaining control of the government.
The Three Puppeteers will sing the praises of the Republicans �finally finding their message,� warn us of the evil Democrats and their diabolical plans for this nation, and urge us to fall in line and keep �conservatives� in power. Appealing to our need to be important, they will enlist the aid and support of evangelical leaders, and hold on to the House and the Senate. In the meantime, unborn babies will continue to die, perversion will continue to be legalized, and our nation will continue to slowly drift into the sunset. �Conservatives� will be in power, and Christians will be left holding the bag. We will be told, once again, to move to the back of the carpet, er bus.
But all will be fine. Hannity will continue to paraphrase the only Bible verse he knows �let not your heart be troubled,� Rush will announce to us that his �talent is on loan from God,� and O�Reilly will assure us that he is �looking out for us.� The �gospel of conservatism,� spread by The Three Puppeteer-pastors, is rapidly becoming the foundation upon which the American church is built.
A former FBI agent once told me that when they are learning to spot counterfeit currency they spend most of their time studying the real money. Once you become familiar with the authentic, it is easy to spot a fraud.
Conservativism is counterfeit Christianity. Why can't Christians spot a fraud?
Who�s framing your foundation?
the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do�? --Psalm
� 2006 Dave Daubenmire
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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.
In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.
Now all of the polls say that the Republicans are in trouble. Compassionate conservatism turned out to be nothing more that �Democrat lite.�