When the Result Enables the Religious Right
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 01:42:55 PM EST
Let me start out by saying that I know the leaders of the liberal, Washington, DC-based think tank Faith in Public Life are progressive people with a record of good works. But there are times when it is important to tell friends and colleagues that we differ on matters of importance. Especially when they are eggregiously wrong.

Writing in response to Sarah Posner's important article at Religion Dispatches, "Katie Paris and The Faith in Public Life Team" issued what amounts to a long press release titled "Common Ground Gets Results."  They say they are "proud" of their "results-based" approach. Results is certainly a fair way to measure any organization's work, but we need to look at the bad as well as the good results, however unintended they may be. In this case, FPL has promoted the ambitions of conservative, anti-abortion, anti-LGTB equality Republicans under the banner of finding common ground. Many question the value of the excercise, but for an organization that stakes it's reputation on dialog and finding common ground with people who do not necessarily agree, their statement in response to Posner's article is a textbook example of the difference between public relations deflection and authentic engagement.

There is much that we could discuss here, but I will develop just one point, (raised by Posner and ignored by Katie and the Team), since it is of such historic consequence regarding the ever-changing role of the Religious Right in American public life.

This has to do with FPL's promotion of Rick Warren, the immoderate evangelical who presides over a growing religious and politically-oriented empire. Posner, in passing, debunks the moderation for which is underservedly famous, noting that "Warren has argued that homosexuality disproves evolution and has compared pro-choice advocates to Holocaust deniers."

But FPL was pleased to help him plan, rather than oppose, the presidential candidate's forum last fall, which was broadcast on national television from the sanctuary of Warren's church.

The event was legal for reasons that go beyond the purpose of this post, but to say that the event sent the wrong message regarding separation of church and state, is as radical an understatement as I have probably ever made.  And Warren's claim during this broadcast -- again, from the sanctuary of  church he heads -- that he supports the separation of church and state, shows how Orwellian doublespeak has come to dominate our public discourse in fresh ways that would probably astound, but not entirely surprise Orwell himself.

After the event, Katie, writing at the FPL blog, stated that while they would have framed the questions differently, and would have emphasized more of the broader agenda for which Warren has been hailed, she had no reservations. She praised the event, declaring that it demonstrated that "the faith community has an important role to play in fostering civil political discourse in America." (She also wrote that they wanted him to work with him some more.)

Katie and the Team ignored Warren's astounding plunge into corrosive discourse in comparing abortion to the "Holocaust." They also ignored his gall when in closing the event he said that people should not "demonize" one another for thier views. This from a man who just minutes before had not very slyly compared prochoice people to the Nazis. Is this the model for how "the faith community" should pursue civil discourse?

Lest one too-generously think that Warren's invocation of the Holocaust was a slip of the tongue or that he was using the term in its more generic definition, consider that in the context of discussion of abortion one does not invoke the Holocaust lightly. (Should one ever?) The abortion-as-Holocaust theme has a long, stormy history that is familiar to anyone who has been involved in, studied or reported on the issue. The anti-abortion Religious Right uses the term to make a direct analogy to one of the great genocides in history (as even the most casual Google seach will show) the protests of Jewish organizations and leaders, among others, not withstanding.    

The day after the forum, Warren once again resorted to the Holocaust analogy in the interview Posner cites -- in which he compared prochoice advocates to Holocaust deniers.   In an interview with Dan Gilgoff at BeliefNet, Warren said:

If they (Evangelicals, among whom Warren counts himself) think that life begins at conception, then that means that there are 40 million Americans who are not here [because they were aborted] that could have voted. They would call that a holocaust, and for them it would like if I'm Jewish and a Holocaust denier is running for office. I don't care how right he is on everything else, it's a deal breaker for me. I'm not going to vote for a Holocaust denier....

But there is more that was spectacularly wrong with the Warren Forum. The man who is celebrated as being a broader agenda, moderate evangelical, did not ask Obama and McCain about any of the broader agenda issues, but highlighted abortion and marriage. The broader agenda approach advertised in advance didn't make it into the conversation. Warren says they ran out of time. How convenient.

Whatever else he may be, he remains an old time litmus-test Religious Right Republican. Often forgotten is that Warren participated in the weekly Bush White House strategy conferences with other leaders of the Religious Right. Warren claimed in his Beliefnet interview he has never been part of the Religious Right.  But I think he doth protest too much.  

A few weeks later, Warren once again distinguished himself by endorsing Proposition 8, the successful referendum that overturned marriage equality in California. This was the first plebecite overturning of a court-ordered civil rights advance in American history.

It is useful to recall that during the presidential election campaign of 2004, Warren wrote a nationally distributed, inflammatory letter in which he equated, among other things, anti-abortionism and anti-marriage equality with his signature notion of the purpose driven life:  

But for those of us who accept the Bible as God's Word and know that God has a unique, sovereign purpose for every life, I believe there are 5 issues that are non-negotiable. To me, they're not even debatable because God's Word is clear on these issues. In order to live a purpose-driven life - to affirm what God has clearly stated about his purpose for every person he creates - we must take a stand by finding out what the candidates believe about these five issues, and then vote accordingly.

The simple fact is that Rick Warren's view of the politics of the "purpose driven life" is unchanged. But one of the "results" of FPL's peculiar approach to "common ground" is a turning a blind eye to Warren's role in the religious right and his self-serving and inflammatory approach to political discourse.  Choosing not to see or not to speak about these facts undoubtely makes it easier to justify facilitating Warren's purpose driven desire to function as a power broker: Warren is the first religious leader in the history of the United States to be allowed to publically and singly question the presidential candidates.  

Much more could be said about FPL's embrace of Rick Warren and their silence in the face of his spectacular betrayal of the spirit and letter of any reasonable definition of civil discourse. But I am afraid we are unlikely to hear it from them.

I'll give Pastordan the last word, from his  response to The Team's PR statement.

It simply doesn't make sense to celebrate the "broader agenda" folks unless you'd like them to control the social agenda. Otherwise, you'd celebrate the faithful Democrats who are already present within the party and don't actually oppose abortion rights or marriage equality.



Display:

If life begins at conception, then that means that there are 40 million Americans who are not here [because they were aborted] that could have voted.

  1. Does life start at conception or at implantation?

  2. If life begins at conception then use of the pill is considered an abortion.

  3. If life begins on implantation, then we see numbers of 40 to 50 million. Where do they or anybody get these numbers? If you include the pill then are the numbers under stating the total?

  4. Ever since the visit of Pope Benedict the Catholic right has changed the tenure of their statements. Losing the elections has only fueled them. You are pointing out that the only thing all of these groups have in common is in their view, our immoral government?

Looks more like the Christian leaders have failed completely in motivating their followers to live their advertised cherished values. Instead of looking at their failures, they blame the government.


by Turfsuper on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 10:37:30 AM EST
Many who are anti-abortion are also against the pill for the very reason you cite -- they believe that in some cases the pill will cause a fertilized egg not to be implanted successfully.

But I suspect that many anti-abortion Christians use the pill regularly even if their leaders teach that it is wrong, just like millions of Catholics use contraception even though they are admonished not to.

The 40-50 million number is simply their best estimate for the number of legal abortions since Roe vs Wade.  I don't even know where they would begin to calculate the number of "abortions" from the pill.  Since most scientists who have studied the issue believe that it doesn't happen, then the best estimate is zero.

by tacitus on Sat Dec 13, 2008 at 12:29:56 AM EST
Parent




WWW Talk To Action


Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (18 comments)
Religious Freedom is Not Just for Christian Conservatives
Religious freedom is one of the central issues of our time. Arguably, it a central issue in any time, and every time, at least......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Dallas and its Historic Connection to the Religious Right
There has been a recent rash of demonstrations outside of the famous First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.  The current pastor appears to be......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Fr. Frank Pavone Claims the 2016 Coughie Award!
Yes, folks it's time for the presentation of the annual Coughlin Award. As always, the competition was fierce. But this year, the gold......
By Frank Cocozzelli (1 comment)
Christmas Broadcasting Traditions
It is time to once again note the preposterous-but-malevolent claims that there is a War on Christmas. The annual revival of this repulsive anti-Semitic......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Steve Bannon: Alt-Right Anti-Catholic or Political Opportunist?
In March 2016 Trump campaign strategist and CEO Steve Bannon made a comment that could be construed as being blatantly anti-Catholic. He accused the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (4 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
How The Election of Trump Made My Life Easier
I might be one of a select few who didn't vote for Donald but would have to say Trump's election made my life easier...I......
By wilkyjr (10 comments)
The Bakke Plot To "Infiltrate" Secular Institutions
Back in 2012-2014 I did a lot of writing and research on The Gathering, the yearly meeting of elite evangelical right philanthropists who collectively......
By Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
The Term "Alt-Right" is All Right
There is a misguided effort underway to not use the term "alt-right."  The effort, currently led by the Center for American Progress, claims that......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
Getting the Low Down on Dominionism
A refresher on dominionism will probably come in handy over the next little while. -- FC I am pleased to report that the task......
By Frederick Clarkson (10 comments)
The New Kochs: Anthology of DeVos Support, Funding of School Privatization and Religious Right
This post from 2-14 will be a helpful resource in the days ahead. -- FC Mother Jones' January/February issue includes an article titled "Meet......
By Rachel Tabachnick (1 comment)
Strategy for Privatizing Public Schools Spelled out by Dick DeVos in 2002 Heritage Foundation Speech
This post about the long term strategy for privatizing the public schools takes on fresh importance in light of the nomination of Betsy DeVos......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Did God Engineer Trump's Win?
Political analysts have postulated a number of theories to explain the victory of Donald J. Trump in the presidential election: Hillary Clinton failed to......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Some thoughts for a Sunday post-election reflection:
Emancipation, Reconstruction, Redemption, the Ku Klux Klan, Jim Crow The struggles of the Civil Rights Movement took us two steps forward Now the "Second......
By Chip Berlet (0 comments)

"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (6 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (4 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (3 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (0 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (13 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (5 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (1 comment)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (11 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.