By Frank Schaeffer
Having circled the wagons and gone inward, the American evangelical community and conservative Roman Catholics now speak their own language, have their own culture, and they despise and fear the country they dwell in as virtual strangers. This is a self-imposed exile.
But when general elections come along the evangelical community, Roman Catholic bishops' et al, like some hibernating creature, are forced (as it were) from their cave. For a brief moment they must interact with the larger world in the full light of day.
When the fundamentalist, anti-modern community emerges the rest of the population gets a rare look at how the conservative reactionary "brain" of fundamentalism works. All of a sudden the larger world is reminded that there really are people like the ultra-conservative Roman Catholic bishops who actually think contraceptives are wicked things. All of a sudden the larger world is reminded that right here amongst us are people who believe that Satan is attacking us, that we should attack Iran to make Israel safe for Jesus' return, that a sperm and egg joined 5 seconds ago is a "person", that evolution is a secularist plot, that the Federal Reserve is of the devil, etc., etc.
And the cry goes up (once again) "How could they believe this stuff?"
It takes training for years to reject what is true. That training starts in a million Sunday schools and carries on through home schooling or private religious "education" and is completed in a hundred alternative Christian "colleges." It is sustained by a network of magazines like Christianity Today, World and many more. It has its own celebrity culture with heroes that no one outside the religious ghetto has heard of but who are selling literally millions of books to their followers.
Is it any wonder that a bedrock article of faith in the Republican Party is now that public schools are evil? Is it any wonder Santorum says he objects to President Obama saying all kids should work to go to college? In fact anything public and open to accountability is to be feared. Education is feared most of all.
We've seen their attempts to dumb down education and preserve the status quo many times. Banning novels. Rewriting or censoring textbooks. Eliminating ethnic studies. Cheering Indian mascots. Celebrating Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Etc.
It's all about control, folks. A liberal arts education teaches people to think liberally. That means questioning authority, which is the opposite of what conservatives want. They want people to worship and obey, not to question and confront. They seek to end public education so they can indoctrinate their children in church and at home.
For more on the subject, see What Conservatives Consider "Objective History" and Ethnic Studies Ban Is Political.