Friday, March 12, 2010

The Evangelical Christian Right, and The Tea Parties

Don't bother reading this rant.  It's not consistent, and I have no idea what point I was trying to make. 
Here's Ben Smith, of Politico:

The rise of a new conservative grass-roots fueled by a secular revulsion at government spending is stirring fears among leaders of the old conservative grass-roots, the evangelical Christian right.

I agree with a lot of what Smith has to say in this post, but he truly screwed up his first paragraph.  The old conservative grass-roots was probably centered around the Taft family of Ohio.  They favored small, small government, but lost influence in the 1950's.  The evangelical Christian right came along much later. 

A reeling economy and the Obama administration’s massive bank bailout and stimulus plan were the triggers for a resurgence in support for the Republican Party and the rise of the tea party movement. But they’ve also banished the social issues that are the focus of many evangelical Christians to the background.

Yet another mis-statement.  The Tea Party movement isn't hierarchical enough to "banish" anything.  You'll see the occasional social issue sign or banner at a protest, but the movement is mostly about the size of government. 

And while health care legislation has brought social and economic conservatives together to fight government funding of abortion, some social conservative leaders have begun to express concern that tea party leaders don’t care about their issues, while others object to the personal vitriol against President Barack Obama, whose personal conduct many conservative Christians applaud.

This is because many "social conservative leaders" aren't perceived as truly caring about their issues.  Raise your hand if you think Newt Gingrich gives a rip about the anti-gay "sanctitiy of marriage" bidness.  I mean, the guy was carrying on with god knows how many non-wives during the Clinton impeachment??? 

“There’s a libertarian streak in the tea party movement that concerns me as a cultural conservative,” said Bryan Fischer, director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association. “The tea party movement needs to insist that candidates believe in the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage.”

Sorry, Bryan.  Texas Republicans had a recent ballot proposition about whether women wanting an abortion should be forced to watch a sonogram of their fetus in the womb.  It got a 68%  "yes" vote, but every other ballot proposition scored in the high 90's.  Abortion is only 18 percentage points away from being a losing issue for Republicans.  It's not a good wedge issue any longer.  It's over. 

As far as I can tell [the tea party movement] has a politics that’s irreligious. I can’t see how some of my fellow conservatives identify with it,” said Richard Cizik, who broke with a major evangelical group over his support for government action on climate change, but who remains largely in line with the Christian right on social issues. “The younger Evangelicals who I interact with are largely turned off by the tea party movement — by the incivility, the name-calling, the pathos of politics.”

Give 'em time, give 'em time.  Let them pay more taxes.  Before long they'll be calling Barack Obama the dumbest dingleberry that God put guts in. 

There’s no centralized tea party organization, and anecdotes suggest that many tea party participants hold socially conservative views. But those views have been little in evidence at movement gatherings or in public statements, and are sometimes deliberately excluded from the political agenda. The groups coordinating them eschew social issues, and a new Contract From America, has become an article of concern on the social right.

They just don't get it.  Government has no business interfering in what we now think of as Social Issues.  People have figured that out. 

The contract, sponsored by the grass-roots Tea Party Patriots as well as Washington groups such as FreedomWorks and Americans for Tax Reform, asks supporters to choose the 10 most important issues from a menu of 21 choices that makes no mention of socially conservative priorities such as gay marriage and abortion.

“They’re free to do it, but they can’t say [the contract] represents America,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a veteran of the Christian right. “If they do it they’re lying.”

Tony Perkins just doesn't get it. (I always wondered what happened to him after he taxidermied his Mama in Psycho.)  Government has no business interfering in what we now think of as Social Issues. People have figured that out.

Groups such as FreedomWorks, said Perkins, bring a libertarian bias that doesn’t represent the “true tea parties.” Brendan Steinhauser, the director of federal and state campaigns at FreedomWorks, responded that the contract represents activists’ priorities.

"People didn’t come out into the streets to protest gay marriage or abortion,” said Steinhauser, who said that he hoped the Republican Party would follow the contract’s cue and “stop bringing up flag-burning amendments and the gay marriage thing when they’re not what people are focused on.”

Precisely !   Flag burning amendments don't go over well with people holding signs that say "SECEDE !". 
And "Wide Stance" Republicans like Larry Craig have shown Americans that it's hard to condemn gay democrats without doing some housecleaning of your own. 

There’s little data on the disparate tea party movement. One small CNN survey of self-identified tea party activists found that 68 percent identify themselves as Protestants or other non-Catholic Christians, as opposed to just 50 percent in the general population. Only 9 percent of the activists say they’re irreligious, as opposed to 14 percent in the broader sample.

Get ready.  Here it comes. 

But an in-depth study of 49 tea party leaders by the free-market oriented Sam Adams Alliance suggested that the leadership consciously avoids social issues and plans to continue doing so.

Here comes proof that the Tea Party movement needs to come out against government involvement in social issues.....

“None of them chose social issues as the sole direction for the movement,” said the group’s marketing director, Anne Sorock, who oversaw the study.

Here it comes.  Proof that the Tea Party has failed. 

She said that while many of the leaders held conservative views on social issues, “they were completely adamant that [the issues] were not a part of their agenda for the long term.”

They may have been adamant, but they weren't adamant enough.  Get ready for proof. 

“Across the board everyone had the same answer: It’s so important that they achieve their goals that social issues cannot distract them, because they need to cast the widest net of consensus with the widest group possible,” she said.

Well, the group really can be too wide.  There's such a thing as a tent that's too big.  Get it comes....

The rise of the fiscal and economic conservative grass-roots has been cause for celebration in the socially liberal wing of the Republican Party.

Don't celebrate yet, guys.  Get ready.....

“The folks who are upset about it are big government conservatives for whom the marriage with the GOP was never a good fit to begin with,” said Chris Barron, the chairman of the board of the gay conservative group GOProud.....

"Big government conservatives" = Republicans.  But, I digress.  Here's proof that the Tea Party needs to come down stronger on social tolerance.  Get ready....

.....It’s easy to overstate the depth of concern on the part of social conservatives. Fischer, Perkins, and other figures were quick to add that they feel an affinity for the tea party movement.

It's finally here.  Here's the money quote, in the next paragraph.  Thanks for your patience.  Here's proof that we need to sponsor gay and lesbian groups at the Tea Party protests.  We need to pay them to show up.  We need Jack Daniels and Budweiser to sponsor a pro-abortion rights tent, with a medical marijuana dispensary off to the side.  Here's proof: 

“The reason for it is fundamentally secular, but a lot of people involved in it are not secular,” said Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. “I don’t see the tea party movement as a threat at all — I see it as additional allies and fellow travelers.”

If Richard Freakin' Land, the biggest headline grabber and media whore in the Southern Baptist Convention, Richard Land, the most pious political back-slapper that ever preached the joining of church and state, Richard Freakin' Land, Richard Land, Richard Land..... If Richard Land approves of what we're doing, brothers and sisters, if Richard Land doesn't fear for his agenda, we have truly failed. 

But while Land and other Christians sympathize with the movement’s limited-government focus, they have been repelled by another aspect of the contemporary right: The vitriolic attacks on Obama.

Well, tax them some more until we're less repulsive.  Do they want to take over my daughter's share of Obama spending?  Do we have any volunteers?  Anywhere? 
Then let the verbal floggings continue. 

A prominent Atlanta evangelical public relations man, Mark DeMoss, recently wrote Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to denounce as “shameful” a fundraising presentation obtained by POLITICO that advised appealing to “fear” and portrayed Obama as the sinister Joker from Batman, over the word “Socialism” — an image drawn from a poster popular at tea party events.

Land said liberals can be equally faulted for demonizing Sarah Palin, but said that if he were an RNC donor, he’d stop giving.

And if I were still a Southern Baptist, I would suggest that Richard Land adhere to the traditional Baptist principle of keeping churches out of politics.  But, I digress. 

"What [liberal blogs] do with Sarah is just really unacceptable and dastardly, but that doesn’t mean we should respond in kind,” he said. Obama, he said “provides a tremendously positive role model for tens of millions of African-American men” and “seems demonstrably fond of his wife and children, which is a positive role model for people of all ethnicities.”

"I would want to be free to attack the character of President Clinton — but this guy, he gives every indication of being a decent guy,” Land said.

Personally, I'd prefer a scoundrel who left me alone to a virtuecrat control freak. 

Worries about being out of step with the rest of the conservative movement surfaced most visibly last month in Washington during the Conservative Political Action Conference, which invited the gay Republican group GOProud to be a co-sponsor, and where one audience booed a speaker who criticized that decision.

Here's Ryan Sorba, the guy who criticized the decision to allow for tolerance:

I'll go ahead and predict that within 10 years, this dude gets caught in a massage parlor with gay prostitutes.  I've seen it too many times. 
Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee denounced the conference (with whose organizers he has feuded in the past) as a gathering that had become “increasingly more libertarian and less Republican.”

Gotta get to work.  Don't have time to unleash vitriol on Mike "The Theocrat" Huckabee. 
GOProud’s Barron, meanwhile, met with a warm reception, as he had, he said, during the giant Tea Party march on Washington last fall.

The veteran conservative activist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he found himself soothing social conservative fears about the Tea Parties at a recent gathering of the socially conservative Council for National Policy.

My favorite Norquist quote:  "Government should be small.  Small enough to drown it in the bathtub." 

“They shouldn’t be nervous,” he said. “When the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement grows, that’s good for everybody.”

Have a good day, everybody !  I feel better now. 

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