MSNBC's Chris Matthews made a remark yesterday comparing the Tea Party of America to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt.
"So the Muslim Brotherhood has a parallel role here with the Tea Party," he said. "They're the ones who keep you honest and decide whether you've stayed too long?"
That's what you might call a backhanded compliment. Mr. Hardball could have gone so much further with the comparison.
The truth is that the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tea Party have a lot in common, starting at the most basic level. Both movements are dedicated to driving the world backward into a religious state, one for Allah, the other for God.
The difference is that the Muslim Brotherhood is very clear about its intention to bring strict Sharia law from the Qur'an to the world. The Tea Party, on the other hand, likes to keep itself wily and undefinable. It would like to deny that its movement is rooted in religion -- namely messianic Christianity -- but the evidence is undeniable.
This isn't an attack on religion. The majority of Christians and Muslims are moderate and good people who want to coexist peacefully (thank God). The problem is that in the Tea Party and the Muslim Brotherhood, you have similar extremist, dominionist goals that aim to wrap the world up into eternal conflict between the two. It's not just backward, it's dangerous.
Both have the right to be heard -- and then to be put on the fringes where they belong.
All you have to do is look at the leaders to see what the Tea Party, at its core, is really all about. Here's a quote from U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, a leader of the tiny Tea Party Caucus. DeMint is a fundamentalist who recently said he didn't believe gay people or unmarried women who are unchaste should be allowed to teach in public schools. Here's a key DeMint quote: "Turning back to God in effect is our salvation, and government is not our salvation, and in fact, more and more people see government as the problem, and so I think some have been drawn in over the years to a dependency relationship with government, and as the Bible says, you can't have two masters."
Rand Paul and his dad have ties to Christian Reconstructionists, who are the absolute counterparts to the Muslim Brotherhood. Reconstructionists believe in bringing archaic and savage Biblical law to America (think death penalty for adultery). Reconstructionism is very much like Sharia, including the utter subjugation of women, only it comes under the Christian brand.
How about Tea Party's matron saint, Sarah Palin? She's a Wasilla Assembly of God fundamentalist who has said that God told her to get into politics and that the Iraq War is a "task from God." Read here for more on that.
And finally, we have Fort Lauderdale Tea Party leader Gabriel Jose Carrera, an ordained Pentecostal minister who is very open about his religious motivations.
"The difference between me and a liberal-slash-Obama lover is that I believe my rights come from God," he told me. "The Constitution says it comes from God."
Inside, more religious musings from our resident Tea Party leader.
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When Carrera claimed that the Constitution said that American rights come from God, I told him that it said no such thing.
"The first right is the right of religion," Carrera continued. "Not freedom of the press. The freedom of religion is the first one in the framer's mind."
Actually the framers, of course, wrote in the First Amendment that the government "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." In other words, they were protecting our rights from religion.
"Right," said Carrera when I brought this up. "No religion of the United States. That does not mean that you throw out all religion."
I asked him why he wanted to impose his religious views on the country.
"It's been there since the 1700s, and it's only recently that people are coming out against it," Carrera answered. "People who are atheists are coming out against it: 'I'll take the Ten Commandments off the wall just to piss them off.' They are trying to take the Ten Commandments off the wall instead of trying to clean up the street of pedophiles and other things they should be doing. They are so focused on taking God out of the public square, and the thing is that religion has been part of America for 200 to 300 years, and now it's being wiped away. And you see this in the leftist nations that are being socialized... Russia, Venezuela. The first thing you do is take God out; then you strip the people from their guns."
Carrera then defined what he sees as "reality."
"There are other creatures up in heaven, and they are looking at us, and they are like shaking their heads: 'What's going on down there?'" he said. "That's reality. This is not reality. Look around. What somebody farted and the world came into effect? No. Look around and you see the glory of God. Jesus and everything in the Bible is true, compared to Darwinism."