NOW I DON'T WANT TO GET OFF ON A RANT HERE, but don't these radical religious right leaders scare you a little? I'm not talking about good simple religious folk here. I empathize with you people. I know you're frightened. It looks like the bad guys are winning. And I know you want to do the good Christian thing and save some of the bad guys, but you're probably preaching to the unconvertible. This is a long trail ride, and occasionally a satanic heifer or two is gonna head over the ridge and go off on their own. Let them go. Quit trying to set God up on blind dates with people he has nothing in common with. Well, anyway, you're good people and I got no quarrel with you, Atticus. I'm talking about the overzealous ones. The ones with that bloodless, glazed-over "Prophets of the Caribbean" look. You know, the ones who look like the guys who kept Howard Hughes alive those last three years. Let's run down our roster of modern-day Pharisees:

Jerry Falwell, with his big hillbilly grin concealing his hatred for you and the fun you can have with your nasty little genitals.

Then we've got Pat Robertson, the Dixie charlatan who contends he held counsel with God, saw Jesus, and has it on good authority from the Holy Ghost that "Cuber" has an arsenal of nuke-you-ler weapons aimed at the United States.

And our good friend Ollie North, who quivers with religious fervor while conveniently forgetting he was a belligerent liar who abused the authority of his position. You know I have no doubt that God will forgive Lieutenant Colonel North one day. I just don't our courts should have.

These modern-day Torquemadas can't wait to seize the reins and begin slaughtering the nonbelievers. And if you don't think they'll do it -- if you don't think you'll be on the short list for a public roasting a la Joan of Arc, well, you better stop dancing around the pagan Maypole and think again, Caligula.

Now I am sure to many of those in the Radical Right, I probably appear to be a bitter, cranky pragmatist with the mouth of a stevedore, and the soul of a heretic. But I do, believe it or not, consider myself to be a Christian -- and I'm sorry, you just don't go shooting doctors. If a judgment's to be made, God gets to make it. Not you. Him. You are Barney Fife. Keep your bullet in your shirt pocket. All right?

You know, God is Andy Taylor. If abortion is wrong, and I believe in many cases it is, somewhere down the line God's gonna let you know about it. And believe me, God paybacks are an eternal bitch. Somebody else's abortion is none of your business. And listen, if you really believe that your God is telling you to kill an abortionist in his name, then you've got to crush some tinfoil on your antenna, pal, because you're gettin' some heavy interference.

And you know, while I'm at it, I don't care what arcane passage you pull out of the Old Testament and run through your Jeremiah-begat-Jedediah Decoder Ring, one of the definitive tenets of Christianity is tolerance. Trust me, there's no version of the Bible that says Love thy neighbor unless he's a Peter Allen fan. Any supposedly Christian doctrine must have at the core a belief in the concept of unqualified love for your fellow man. Unless of course he proves himself to be a total asshole. Then you can ditch him. Sure, God understands that, who do you think booked Satan's flight? What he can't understand is turning against someone because you don't happen to agree with their sexual preference. Forget your linear, biblical interpretation that tells you to ostracize gays, and follow your heart. It's like when your driving test instructor would tell you to run the stop sign. And you would, and then he'd flunk you. And you'd say, "But you told me to." And he'd say, "Sorry, but you never run a stop sign." And you never carpet bomb a group of people with hate because they're different from you. Case closed, Tailgunner Joe.

And tolerance should extend to ideas as well. A schoolbook cannot corrupt your child, especially one whose main characters are a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion. And if you truly think your kid's character depends on prayer, then damn it, pray with your kid -- at home! Stop fobbing off on the public school system your responsibilities as a parent. The school's are there to teach your kids to read, write, and add -- skills they will need if they are going to apply for and wisely invest their unemployment checks one day.

And if you're sold on prayer as a diving board into the day, get up a few minutes early, forgo the trip to the 7-Eleven for a jeroboam of Colombian blend, sit down with your kids you profess to love so much, and lead them in prayer.

Look, I realize this is America -- everybody has the right to organize. The Democratic Party should try it sometime. But you know something, the members of the Radical Religious Right have to get it through their skulls: Separation of Church and State. Separate. Not together. Apart. Like Burt and Loni. One here and one there. The founding fathers set it up like hat because back home in merry old England they witnessed scenes of theocratic horror that would have made even Quentin Tarantino puke.

I can only hope the Radical Right's grab for political power will eventually prove to be their Holy Waterloo.

I know we don't like to vote -- marking your ballot nowadays is like choosing between the 3 A.M. showing on Beastmaster on Showtime and the 3 A.M. showing of Beastmaster 2 on Cinemax.

But the less we involve ourselves in the political process, the more special interest groups and fanatics move in.

So vote, and remember this when you're alone in the booth with just you and your lever. The Radical Right believes the word "Right" does not simply denote their placement on the political spectrum, but also their sanctimoniously smug assertion that "right" is exactly what they are on any and all issues. Amen.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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