The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100%. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. . . . Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some god-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism.
And I use the term "kickass" with authority, as Hitchens also quotes Goldwater saying he wants to "kick Jerry Falwell in the ass."
Though I think Hitchens overstates how much of a grip the religious right had on American politics, I agree that they've overplayed their hand. He also aptly assesses the distance between the capitalism we rely on and the most fundamental statements in the New Testament, which "tells us to forget thrift and saving, to take no thought for the morrow, and to throw away our hard-earned wealth on the shiftless and the losers."
UPDATE: Well, "shiftless" and "losers" is not Jesus talk. You never get the impression, reading the New Testament, that Jesus thinks the poor are poor because they're lazy. There are some images of laziness in the New Testament, but they are about spiritual laziness. Still, as long as you repent in time, you will get the same reward as those who worked hard at their religion all their lives. And if those who did all the hard work complain, they are the ones who look bad:
"Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him." And he said to him, "Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's an excellent article on the connection between Protestantism and capitalism. (Via A&L Daily.)