The religious right holds a "prayercast" to stop health care reform

There are simply not enough facepalms in the world to do justice to the lunacy of the religious right and the circus act it has become. Last night, republicans hosted a "prayercast" sponsored by James Dobson's group Focus on Family to protest the health care reform legislation currently working its way through the senate.

"Life and death hinges on the Senate health care bill. We face significant threats to the God-given right to human life through government funding of abortions, our health from rationing, our family finances from higher taxes, and our general freedoms posed by the government plan to take over health care. There have been a number of critical hours in American history. Our nation has struggled mightily and, under God, always risen to the challenges before us. Tonight, we will face this moral crisis by taking action and obeying the Biblical mandate to pray for our nation and its leaders."

There are two disturbing trends here, which mirror the ridiculous "Holiday Tree" fiasco I mentioned a few days ago. Firstly, that these people are simply wrong. Abortion funding has already been explicitly written out of the bill (not that I think it should have been); we already ration our health care through skyrocketing insurance premiums, rescission, and tens of millions of Americans with little or no coverage at all; the CBO has already projected that health care reform would save us money – the whole reason we need health care reform is because the current system is too inefficient and costly; and even if you count the "public option", a single-payer system has never even been on the table. Are these people true believers (and truly delusional), or are they purposefully selling misinformation? I suspect it's a little from column A, and a little from column B. When you repeat a lie enough, you start to believe it yourself.

The other disturbing trend, though, is that the religious right is absolutely convinced of the infallibility of their faith. They are certain that God is on their side, that the Devil wants the health care reform bill to pass, that democrats are, in the word of prayercast attendee Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, "in the spirit of Herod". These people really, honestly believe that their god not only exists and is deeply invested in human politics, but is firmly entrenched on the conservative side of the isle. For them, defeating health care reform is a divine calling. The irony is that this kind of religious grandstanding is exactly the kind of thing for which Jesus scorned the Pharisees. These people don't even seem to have a coherent grasp of their own theology, much less our need for health care reform. And it's precisely this kind of "us and them" mentality – the demonization of those with differing opinions and the unrepentant self-righteousness – that makes religious delusion so divisive and dangerous.

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