A Christmas Confession

Christopher Smith

I persecute Christians. David Limbaugh says so and he's famous radioman Rush's brother, so it must be true. The uncle of Dittoheads across the land came out with a best-selling book this fall titled Persecution: How Liberals are Waging War Against Christianity. Just to make sure you don't miss the point, the black cover features a photograph of a lion in mid-stalk, which, apparently, represents me, along with other sacrilegionists like Ted Turner and Tom Daschle. (Man, am I sick of always being lumped together with those two.)

Having been exposed, it's time to confess: I have more in common with those Christian-eating lions than any of you might think. Yes, I've caused a lot of agony, more pain than even a pocketful of Oxycontin pills could help. But before I reveal my shameful secret, I'll make another rather embarrassing admission: Sometimes I Google myself.

I know that sounds dirty and, in a way, I suppose it is. What kind of outrageous vanity and self-absorption does it take to look yourself up on the Internet? But I don't do it, like, every day or anything. And it doesn't hurt to see what people are saying about you, unless it's really vicious, in which case, sure, it hurts a little.

Anyway, that's how I found out about Persecution. Some guy named Phil Brennan, who works for a rabidly conservative news site called NewsMax.com (which also publishes a weekly column by Rush's brother), included my name in his raving review of the book.

So I called my friendly neighborhood Barnes and Noble and asked if they had it. After a rather long wait on hold, the clerk came back on the line and said, "They're going fast, but I did find two copies."

I knew it had been on the New York Times bestseller list in October and early November, but it was dropping fast on amazon.com's sales list (down to 295 at press time). I drove over to the bookstore, sat down with the hardcover, and found my name in the index. At the top of page 272 was a section titled "The American Taliban," where Rush's brother quoted this passage of mine: "The underbelly of the Christian Right is as scary as anything that ever dwelled in a Tora Bora cave. If September 11 taught us anything, it should have been to distrust religious fundamentalists of any kind, to leave them stranded on the banks of the political mainstream where they belong."

It came from an August 29, 2002, column titled "Plumbing the Depths of the Christian Taliban." Rush's brother also reprinted a couple of paragraphs in which I used the terms "evangelical loonies" and "Christian wackos."

But he forgot to explain the meat of the column. It was about Jerry Regier, the good Christian man from Oklahoma whom Gov. Jeb Bush appointed last year as the head of the Department of Children and Families. Earlier this month, brothers and sisters, the DCF chief proposed that Florida's social workers be "adopted" by church groups, who would pray for them. Isn't that special?

He's way out there, man. The Sun-Sentinel found he'd endorsed fundamentalist Christian doctrines that encourage parents to smite their children with rods -- bruises and welts were welcome -- and for husbands to lord over their wives. For the Taliban column, I dug a bit further and found that Regier had been aligned with a group of what are called Reconstructionists who believe that Christians should take over the world and rule it strictly by the Bible. Some of Regier's former associates believed in such things as the death penalty for homosexuals, blasphemers, adulterers, fornicators, and incorrigible children. You know, pretty much anyone with a pulse. Preferred method of execution? Stoning, of course.

But Rush's brother didn't mention any of that, which was a good thing, since it might have spoiled some good knee-jerk reactions. Context, as we all know, is the devil's playground.

Now, to be honest, I regret calling them wackos and loonies. A friend called me out one night at Kim's Alley Bar on the matter, saying that using such shrill terms only hurt my argument. I agreed. Throwing out insults is not only impolite but it also kills any chance that those who disagree will give you a good listen. And God knows, I want evangelical loonies and Christian wackos to read my stuff.

The outfit that put out the book, Regnery Publishing, would never, ever stoop to such irresponsible hyperbole as I did. It prints only the soberest political research, such as its semiannual Bill Clinton exposés, which detail how the former president murdered Vince Foster, how Hillary decorated America's Christmas tree with little crack-pipe ornaments, and how Bubba was once involved in drug smuggling. Rush's brother is just one more voice of the fair and balanced truth on the Regnery list, which is rife with literary lions like Ann Coulter, William Bennett, and Ollie North.  

These writers are concerned only with the unmitigated truth. None of them, for instance, would ever follow the lead of America's dastardly sports columnists, who have puffed up a charlatan like Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb just because they want to see a black man succeed as an NFL quarterback. McNabb's team is at the top of the NFC, which can mean only one thing: The entire league is in on the conspiracy.

Rush's brother's book has been touted as a classic by such open-minded critics as Sean Hannity, who likes Rush's brother so much that he hired him as his personal attorney. "At last -- some sense in the Church/State debate!" Hannity raves on the book jacket. "Buy this book... and send a copy to every politician, judge, and Supreme Court justice you can find."

While promoting the book on the cable news circuit in September, Rush's brother appeared on Hannity's Fox News Channel show. Alan Colmes, Hannity's little stalking horse on the left, made a vain attempt to defend the Godless media. "We live in a secular country," said Colmes, who often frightens people with his probing insight and searing clarity of vision.

Said Rush's brother, "Well, what about the media and various liberal media people calling, likening Christians, the Christian right, to the American Taliban?"

Even Colmes' incredible brain couldn't defend that one.

"Of course, there are many examples as you point out, where I think people make the wrong judgment...," he mumbled.

Thank you, sir; may I have another?

D. James Kennedy, the national TV evangelist based at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, also hailed the book: "Often the people who clamor for tolerance are among the most intolerant people in our society. David Limbaugh documents this in his new book, Persecution -- in particular, the intolerance against Christians. This book is sorely needed in our day, when the only 'acceptable' prejudice of our day is the bias against Christians."

Tell me about it, D. It's about time that other prejudices, like, say, those against gays and black quarterbacks, become acceptable too. I mean, it's only fair. And everyone knows that Christians have no real power in America, other than their rather inconsequential domination of Congress, the White House, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

People really should be allowed to piss off whomever they damn well please. I myself have gotten hate mail from far-out Christians who believe in killing sinners, way-out Jews who believe in killing Palestinians, and totally gone Muslims who believe in killing Americans. Only Buddhists have left me alone, maybe because they don't plan to kill anyone. Yet.

Oh yeah, I know you're up to something, you Buddhist bastards.

But now it's time to confess my own taste for blood. For many years, I celebrated not what you may call the "Christmas season" but the Christian season. Hunting time. I stalked lovers of Jesus as sport, pinned them down with my rather massive paws, and chewed the life out of them. It was a gory business, but don't judge me too harshly: Like John Kerry, I always ate what I killed. It was great sport, and truthfully, they weren't bad on the old palate, with a strangely pleasing taste of pork and canned corn.

Getting that guilt off my chest feels good. Now if I could only get the blood stains off my floor mats. I want to make it clear, though, that I never cannibalized your average follower of Christ. Some of my best friends are Christians. So are my parents, though they are inactive (my dad, however, used to yell about God quite a bit -- I thought his last name was Dammit until I was 6). Also on board with J.C. are my wife and 8-year-old son (yeah, they got to him too).

My victims, though, had to be the fire-and-brimstone kind, fundamentalist to the core. If they wanted me to track them down and eat them, they had to suggest replacing the Bill of Rights with the Ten Commandments, the Constitution with the Bible, and Swank magazine with The New Testament for Dummies. That kind of thing.

But Rush's brother has made me see the error of my ways. The Jerry Falwell/Moral Majority types aren't the ones waging the culture wars. It's irresponsible liberals. It's time for peace, not persecution. So let's allow them to institute school prayer, jail homosexuals, outlaw abortion, radically expand the death penalty, ban all controversial art, and begin a holy war against the Arab world. It's the Christian thing to do.  

Here's my sacred promise: Christian season, thanks to Rush's brother, is officially closed.

It's time to stop persecuting Christian Righters and allow them to take over America. Then we can all get stoned and find out what the joy of persecution really feels like.

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