With God On Their Side

This BBC produced documentary broadcast on the eve of the 2004 United States Presidential election examines the rise of Christian interests groups inside the U.S. political arena. Starting right after the Eisenhower era, this non-partisan documentary, chronologically access the ups and downs of the religious right as they seek out a political candidate for them to throw their support behind. Arriving at G.W. Bush the documentary focuses on Bush’s own conversion/salvation and his strong personal believes that are closely linked to the same fundamentalist groups that so rabidly seek a political voice to speak on their behalf.

Fair and balanced, the documentary sticks to the facts neither building a case for or against this rising influence of religious persuasion inside the Washington D.C. political circus. One could argue that the selection and use of rather foolish statements made by some of the Religious Right’s most notable figures gives the documentary a left leaning stance. Its true that ridiculous quips made by the likes of Jerry Farwell and Pat Robertson paint a moronic portrait of a group of people of portrayed as zealots and buffoons in editorial cartoons. Though, one could easily argue that their own statements create ready made punchlines for such cartoons and that each clip only exemplifies the most memorable, outlandish statements made by each person. It’s akin to only remembering Nixon for saying, “I am not a crook.” Slightly true, slightly distorted.

The greater fault, but you will never hear those on the right ever addressing, is the documentary’s refusal to show the effects of the Religious Right on American life and laws. So closely focused on the rise of this predominate lobbying group, the BBC fails to show the changes in the American legal system that have been brought about by such lobbying. Too ignorant of such information, myself, I cannot say if the religious right has made any changes. Surely, they have tried and the documentary addresses those key issues of abortion and school prayer that the Religious Right has carried a torch for, but these are big issues. Certainly smaller battles have been won, but they do not appear in the documentary.

This omission helps give the documentary a unbiased perspective, but it also leaves the entire experience open and flat. All documentaries do not need to take a political stance, but inherently they do. This one sits on the fence, pretending to be in neither party’s camp, but all fences do fall on someone’s property. Clearly, this is on the left.

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