On Saturday morning I received an “urgent” e-mail from a conservative Christian activist who quoted a recent letter from Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, claiming full agreement with the most horrid example of hyperbole I’ve yet to hear in a year filled with overstatements, misstatements, and big-fat-lie statements.

In an e-mail blast to supporters, Wildmon claims “If the liberals win the upcoming election, America as we have known it will no longer exist.” Rather, the nation “founded on Judeo-Christian values” will be “replaced by a secular state hostile to Christianity.”

As if that overblown specter is not enough, Wildmon asserts that a “liberal” victory would mean “This ‘city on a hill,’ which our forefathers founded, will go dark,” creating permanent damage that can never be repaired.

After reading that, I noticed a distinctive odor and checked my shoes, even though there’s not a bull left within miles of my house.

Wildmon’s shrill nattering has to appear as complete and utter nonsense to anyone who doesn’t share his delusion that America under the current administration is a model “city on a hill.” America has never been perfect or loved by all, but there was a time when America was the world’s most respected nation and a model of values respecting human rights and national sovereignty. In a deeply divisive eight years, the “Christian values” Bush administration has squandered America’s value capital and surrendered the moral high ground the nation had enjoyed for many years. Huge portions of the world now see America as a nation that invades, that tortures, that imprisons without charges or trials, that cares only for its own interests and torpedoes the global economy with its undisciplined profligacy. If we are to regain our place of respect in the world, our crying need is for a truly moral and intelligent president who understands the value of diplomacy and the priority of respecting human rights and others’ beliefs.

Single-issue readers may respond that anyone who supports abortion rights or gay rights cannot claim to be Christian, just, or concerned with human rights. Such matters are important and must be a part of our national discussion, but all morality cannot be defined on the basis of one or two issues.

Is there clear evidence that John McCain would be a strong Christian leader? Other than a tired story about his Vietnamese prison guard drawing a cross in the dirt one Christmas, I’ve heard McCain say little about his personal faith. He wallows in riches that were — and continue to be — made of profits from a family beer distributorship led by his wife, whom he dated while his first wife lay gravely injured. I wonder how many children and adults have died and will die from the drunken drivers whose beer purchases could be traced directly to the family business? How many homes will be ruined by alcoholism fueled by beer sales that fatten the family purse? Is this a moral icon?

It’s not my place to judge the sincerity of John McCain’s faith, of course. Likewise, it’s not Don Wildmon’s place to make unsubstantiated, fear-mongering claims that Barack Obama — a professing Christian who talks easily and often about his faith — would transform America into a secular nation that is hostile to Christianity.

As it is, such frantic alarms reveal more about the would-be prophet’s narrowness of vision than the clarity of his perception.

Calm down, Chicken Little: the sky is not falling.

[Image from disney-clipart.com]

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