Political Animal


October 10, 2012 3:04 PM Broun’s Crazy-Talk Just About “Religion,” Not Science or Politics

By Ed Kilgore

Faithful readers may recall that I lost it a bit last Friday in reaction to watching a video of Rep. Paul Broun, Jr. (R-GA) speaking to a Baptist Sportsmen’s group and deploring various scientific teachings as “lies from the pit of Hell.”

Now Broun’s office is telling the media they had no bidness publishing his crazy-talk, reports TPM’s Benjy Sarlin:

Now a spokeswoman for Broun, Meredith Griffanti tells CNN Broun will not comment on his remarks. But she added that they weren’t meant for public consumption and that Broun was “speaking off the record to a large church group about his personal beliefs regarding religious issues.” The church group posted a publicly available video of his full speech on YouTube after the event.

Aside from the incongruity of calling a speech “off the record” when its host put the whole unholy mess up on YouTube, I am not assuaged by Team Broun’s claims that this was a non-political address on his personal religious beliefs. For one thing, when your position is that the Bible (and your highly questionable interpretation of same) is a “manufacturer’s handbook for how to run all of public policy and everything in society,” any distinction between religion and politics has obviously been obliterated.

And for another, as I said originally, Broun’s views are highly offensive on religious grounds, not least to Christians who find his view of the Bible as a “manufacturer’s handbook” profoundly unspiritual and perhaps even sacrilegious. If Broun wants to divinize his reactionary social views, he should just construct an idol—maybe in his own self-righteous image. Leave the Bible out of it, and don’t pretend you’re not playing politics, either. You clearly don’t know the difference between religion and politics, Congressman.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • FriscoSF on October 10, 2012 3:14 PM:

    Is he Eva's grandson ??

  • c u n d gulag on October 10, 2012 3:18 PM:

    Jayzoos H. Keerist in a straight jacket!

    This guy's a DOCTOR?!?!

    And, Doctor Bubba Broun, if you allow the host to record your speech, and put it on YouTube, you can't really bitch aboutit when it's seen by people, and criticized.

    It's not like you're some Councilman from East West Bumfeck, you're a US Congressman.

  • Tom Dibble on October 10, 2012 3:30 PM:

    There is an argument to be made that one's religious views do not affect one's standing as a scientist or as a politician. Broun's entourage appears to be trying to make that argument here.

    The problem is, the distinction between personal beliefs and scientific credibility ends when you proclaim your personal beliefs are that science is bunk (and, IMHO worse, that your years of scientific practice have shown that all the rest of the scientific community is either engaged in a widespread conspiracy to keep the truth from coming to light or are idiots incapable of properly reading the plain evidence of a 9,000-year-old Earth). Likewise, the distinction between personal beliefs and political credibility ends when you proclaim your personal beliefs guide your political judgements as opposed to the beliefs of the voters you represent.

    Sorry, Braun. You broke the wall down here when you thought nothing would come of it but good things for your campaign. You can't just pretend the wall is still there now that it is turning into a very negative pull n your campaign.

  • T2 on October 10, 2012 3:35 PM:

    isn't it odd that we don't hear comments like this coming from Democrats? I realize thats a generalization, but really, you don't. And I love how Republicans, all the way up to their presidential candidate, think it's OK to tell a private gathering one thing, then get in front of an open mic or TV and say something quite different. That's not OK, that's being a two-faced sack of duty.

  • LJL on October 10, 2012 3:44 PM:

    WTF, a Baptist Sportsmen's group dedicated to shooting stuff for Jesus. Now I'm in favor of arming the ducks in order to even out the odds.

  • Diane Rodriguez on October 10, 2012 4:03 PM:

    It would seem pretty simple just to not say and do extremist stuff all the time. Most of the people who get caught saying repugnant and ignorant things on tape/camera are older ignorant Republicans. Its just another aspect of their desperate and fading demographic. His statements were quite clear, as to the "pit of Hell", that the world is about 9,000 years old and he follows his own twisted interpretation of scripture to make political decisions.

    Isn't it ironic that the difference between this type of totally irrational thinking and that of Islamic extremists is the reluctance to sacrifice yourself for the cause ala a suicide vest.

  • jjm on October 10, 2012 4:14 PM:

    Woke up this morning with the old tune in my head: "It Ain't Necessarily So" ('the things that you're liable to read in the Bible, it ain't necessarily so').

  • Josef K on October 10, 2012 4:22 PM:

    I have to wonder if the board that certified this clown was not itself certifiable and/or institutionalized at the time (even it if was back in the 1970s).

  • Mitch on October 10, 2012 4:45 PM:

    Ed, you seem to lack an understanding of the worldview of Evangelical Christians. I know that you're a self-described "mainline Protestant" with liberal views, but you seem to fail to account for the large percentage of Biblical literalists in our nation. It's very strange, since you are a child of the South (like me), and I know that you were exposed to Fundies and their beliefs.

    Most of Evangelicals feel EXACTLY the same as Broun. The Bible is the Literal Truth for such people (even if they are not quite aware of it's contents). And anything that disagrees with the Bible is a tool of Satan. Period. Full Stop. Not open to negotiation.

    Millions of our fellow Americans KNOW that Adam and Eve hung out with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden. Millions of our fellow Americans KNOW that the vast evidence in favor of evolution is a lie planted on Earth (and in our bodies, I suppose) by Satan to confuse us. Millions of Americans KNOW that all laws should be based on scripture, and thinking that you know better than scripture is blasphemy. Millions of Americans KNOW that they are at war against the forces of evil, which seek to poison minds with lies and spread sin and discord. Millions of Americans are taught not only that they must not doubt the Truths of the Bible, but that doubting any bit of it at all is a sin against God.

    I know this because I have heard it for my entire life, in churches from Rhode Island to Florida to California. You may be able to reconcile your Christianity with belief in science, but millions of other American Christians cannot and will not.

    Millions of Americans believe these verses from Revelation chapter 20:

    18) For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

    19) And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

    For such people ANY belief that disagrees with scripture is heresy and a sin. And, yes, they will defend Paul's command that slaves obey their masters. They will insist that the Earth was created in seven days.

    YOU, Ed, as a liberal Christian are guilty of heresy and would probably not be considered a true Christian by millions of your fellow Christians.

    That being said, Broun's camp is being extremely disingenuous. Because for believers like him, there is NO line between religion and politics or science or anything else. Their view of religion is the end-all, be-all of knowledge. The alpha and the omega. Every other form of knowledge is wrong and sinful.

    Failing to understand that around 40% of our population feels this way is not only naive, but also dangerous. Because, I assure you, they desire to force their dogmas upon us. They speak of it often and believe that it is their duty as servants of God. They truly believe that they are at war with the forces of Satan. One day some of them will take that war to the next level: Legislation.

    The question is, how many politicians (from both parties) will go along with it to avoid upsetting the zealots and thus losing elections. We are not immune to the perils of theocracy. It is very seductive, since it brings with it a sense of moral superiority and purity of purpose. Humans are capable of the greatest of evils when they believe that they are committing them in the name of a good cause. History has shown us this again and again.

  • Marko on October 11, 2012 8:19 AM:

    Mitch's post is spot-on. Couldn't have said it better.

  • Jameson Burt on October 11, 2012 10:30 AM:

    Philosophy, mathematics, and science come from Satan -- since 391 AD.
    Soon after Christianity became the Roman Empire's state religion, Christians considered philosophy, mathematics, and science evil, so they proceeded to exterminate these other views. They burned libraries of others' philosophies, and even "murdered by tiles" (skinned alive) the leading philosopher of the time, a Greek/Egyptian woman named Hypatia.

    Until recently, espousing other "philosophies" reflected ignorance of its possible consequences -- torture and murder. We should give thanks that today truth gets berated but not murdered.

  • gratuitous on October 11, 2012 2:32 PM:

    I don't know about the percentages Mitch cites (40% of Americans totally agree with "Dr." Broun?), but isn't it curious that the distinguished gentleman will say one thing to his pals at the Christian hunting lodge, yet deny those very things in another setting? I think Matthew 10:33 is on point. Beware!

  • swanieva on October 11, 2012 2:33 PM:

    I am an old straight white male, but I will never support another republican candidate. The attempt by that party to privatize Social Security, the start of two unnecessary wars that endangered America, the bankrupting of America by refusal to fund anything, the encouragment of dividing Americans by race, religion, and guns, and the ridiculous contempt of science in global warming or evolution, the dumbing down of America by its attacks on public education, its refusal to protect us from banksters, its attempt to dismantle clean air and water laws, its support of un-American "show me your papers" laws, its attempt to suppress voter rights, the attack on our civil rights such as habeaus chorpus, etc., etc., etc., need I go On?

    In simpler terms, the Republican party scares me for its lack of support of our Constitutional rights - except for the second amendment - and its general lack of morality while pretending to be Christian.

  • Mitch on October 11, 2012 4:04 PM:


    "40% of Americans totally agree with 'Dr.' Broun?"

    I'm actually being kind in saying only 40%; it's actually closer to half of all Americans who disbelieve in science and the true origin of life and humanity. I am basing my numbers on a Gallup poll from this summer. Other polls from many other sources have been taken that show the exact same thing.

    Here's a breakdown of the percentage of folks who believe that God created mankind in it's present form within the past 10,000 years:

    58% of Republicans, 39% of Independents and 41% of Democrats (yes, Democrats).

    Keep in mind that if Creation occured a mere few millenia ago, then not only biology, but also chemistry, physics, astronomy and archaeology (along with pretty much every other branch of science) must ALL also be wrong, since all of these subjects prove (in varying ways) that Earth, humanity and the cosmos are much older than 10,000 years.

    Here's the link to the poll, it's various breakdons and a summary of it's methodology: