Proposition 8 : A Proving Ground For The New 'Rainbow' Right
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:23:33 PM EST
It was a both a proof-of-concept and a prophetic warning for the Democratic Party. In the minds of many on the American left, the GOP, dominated by the Christian right, is a dwindling revanchist bastion of retrograde white supremacy. Although that faction still is significant it is well on the way to political irrelevancy within the party because, in 2008, an emerging ethnically and racially inclusive form of the Christian right flexed newfound electoral muscles and won.

The left has not noticed, and so the new tendency appears to be laying plans for a Republican resurgence in the 2012 presidential election. As described in Charisma Magazine,

"Noting that the black and Latino vote was critical for passing Proposition 8, California pastor Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said the ballot measure was a perfect example of the power churches have when they work across ethnic lines."

"Here's what this election demonstrates--white evangelicals by themselves cannot win elections," Rodriguez said. "White evangelicals by themselves cannot preserve a biblical world view or a biblical agenda within American political and public policy arena. It is impossible. 2008 said it is over."

Indeed - because Rodriguez helped make it happen and, over the course of the next three years, the new tendency will probably come to prevail within the GOP and then launch the second bid, from Third Wave and New Apostolic Christianity, for the United States presidency.

[map, below: the Proposition Eight push was most notably fronted by "Renewalist" Christians. Here's a definition of that term, from World Christian Trends AD 30 - AD 2200 : "The largest and best-known renewal today is often described by the single word Pentecostal, but is more accurately depicted by the title the Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal in the Holy Spirit. In this survey we also term it, even more accurately, the Pentecostal/Charismatic/Neocharismatic Renewal. This refers to its 3 massive historical surges -- First Wave, Second Wave, and Third Wave."]

General wisdom from the left now holds that the right will work to whip up populist discontent. But, neither Democratic Party nor progressive political activists on the left seem fully aware of the nature of an emerging threat, that Republicans will increasingly gain support among ethnic groups which have traditionally voted for the Democratic Party.

Sammy Rodriguez is an exceptional powerful public speaker who has, it would seem, studied at length the oratory of Martin Luther King Jr. and intends to try brand the anti-abortion movement as equivalent to the Civil Rights Movement. The leadership of his NHCLC is on most issues except immigration hard right and so Rodriguez' organization serves to pull the 10 million Hispanic evangelicals and 5 million Hispanic charismatic Catholics the NHCLC purports to represent in towards right-wing ideological positions.

Many commentators have focused on Mormon activism and Mormon funding as important in passing California's Proposition Eight and support, by Catholic leaders, for anti-gay marriage initiatives is generally taken for granted.

But there was another force in play which may have had a greater impact in Florida, Arizona, and California, in getting religiously based social conservatives to the polls - including evangelical and Catholic charismatic constituencies that swung towards Barack Obama in the 2008 election but also voted in opposition to gay marriage.

A number of news stories covered efforts by evangelist, prophet, and founder of The Call, Lou Engle, to pass Proposition Eight in California. A few even noted the catalytic role played by Jim Garlow of the Skyline Church in La Mesa, California, in pulling together a network of pastors who formed the broad national coalition which blocked gay marriage in California and two other US states in the 2008 election. But both the gay activist press, the wider alternative press, and mainstream media as well almost fully missed the specific nature of the anti-gay marriage effort.

Signed onto The Call's advisory board was much of the top leadership of the New Apostolic Reformation and Third Wave Christianity in America, as well as the top leadership of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference which claims to represent roughly ten million Hispanic American evangelicals and five million charismatic Catholics. Samuel Rodriguez has suggested that abortion will be, in future elections, a much more salient issue for his voting block.

Because pro-gay marriage activists were not fully aware, if they were aware of its existence at all, of the makeup of Engle's and Garlow's coalition they did not capitalize on it's inherent deep fissures in order to disrupt the effort. The New Apostolic Reformation leadership is virulently anti-Catholic to the point of claiming that a global demon spirit blocks Catholic prayers, it is structurally anti-Jewish and spreads anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, and it considers the Mormon faith to be "cultic".

The antigay marriage coalition which successfully helped to pass gay marriage bans in Florida, Arizona, and California was launched, in July 2008, during a several hour conference call in which organizers outlined a multilevel campaign that utilized existing church infrastructure, viral marketing, Internet marketing, New Apostolic prayer networks, traditional Christian conservative media, and a range of methods, and communications channels, both traditional and unorthodox.

The November 1st, 2008 anti-gay marriage Qualcomm Stadium rally in San Diego was the public capstone of the antigay effort in California for the national coalition pulled together by New Apostolic prophet Lou Engle, California charismatic Methodist pastor Jim Garlow and leaders of the currently obscure but enormous, global and rapidly growing New Apostolic Reformation movement which so far has almost completely escaped media scrutiny despite having fielded a vice presidential candidate reported to be in a prayer network under the religious authority of the man who in 2001 founded the NAR: C. Peter Wagner.

Towards the end of The Call's stadium event, a speaker called for acts of Christian martyrdom to reverse what Engle, Garlow and other event speakers had depicted as an immanent moral apocalypse in America that would call down the wrath of God.  

The effort in California represented the emerging face of a new type of fundamentalism in America that is multiethnic, multiracial and, because of that, can appear pseudo-progressive but which is in many ways farther right than traditional fundamentalism. The new axis of bigotry is no longer defined by racial and ethnic distinctions. It is religious supremacy.

All who will not submit to the New Apostolic and Third Wave Christian demon-haunted version of Christianity will be cast as demonic or under the sway of demons - by a new 'rainbow' fundamentalism that is informed by far right conspiratorial ideology characteristic of the John Birch Society, bitterly opposed to gay and reproductive rights, and bent on expelling all the demon spirits and witchcraft that its leaders claim lie in the way of achieving political power to establish a utopian Christian theocratic government, and a millennial age of heaven brought to Earth.
[note: next week I'll be releasing specific, detailed evidence concerning the little-chronicled effort, from the Protestant Christian right, which provided massive volunteer and infrastructure assistance for the successful pro Pro 8 effort.]

Relevant Background : In my new story, Fighting Demons, Raising the Dead, Taking Over the World, published by Religion Dispatches, I describe Sarah Palin's strange new Christianity, which is rapidly becoming the face of the new, globalizing Christian right. In tandem with the story, Religion Dispatches also features my recent interview with Bill Berkowitz, The New Christianity: What the Mainstream Media Has Missed

And this is indeed scary news, and something I hadn't really thought about or even made aware of before. The religious right is seriously working to undo everything that is good about the US.

Any thoughts I might have entertained about moving to Canada to escape the theocracy here, have been completely erased by my learning about how the Harper Administration is just as committed to theocratic rule as anyone attending a Hagee sermon.

by trog69 on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 04:32:02 AM EST
I guess fear - or alarm, which I think is more productive - are natural responses to unexpected threats. But, later with familiarity those emotions change - to the better.

by Bruce Wilson on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 06:54:11 AM EST

"The new axis of bigotry is no longer defined by racial and ethnic distinctions. It is religious supremacy."

Try wearing traditional non-European descent garb to one of their churches.  Unless that specific church is one meant for steeplejacking the culture associated with your garb, you will be thrown out on your ear (if you don't suffer violence on the way!)  I know people who have had this happen to them- and a steeplejacked Episcopal church DID throw us out (told we weren't to come back in so many words) when the rector learned that we were American Indian.

Even then, I should mention that the "churches" meant for steeplejacking other cultures push for the European-descended suit and tie as the norm... along with all other European norms of dress and behavior.

My observation- the racism is still there, but hidden behind a facade.  Once they've got people in their power, only those with the right "look" (read: European genes) will be allowed to advance.  Racism doesn't have to be overt to still be racism.

I might add that liberal thinking generally goes with higher education, and because most minority people haven't had access to higher education, they are often more conservative in thought... they probably voted for Obama because the Republicans are notoriously hostile to minorities and minority issues.  At the same time, the anti-gay message has been playing loud and clear in most churches- not just in the fundamentalist/dominionist ones.  That falls right in line with the conservative thinking.  And then there is the way the gay rights issue has been so misrepresented for so long- many people don't realize that it is a civil/equal rights issue and not people just wanting the right to have their "favorite type of sex".

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Apr 06, 2009 at 06:58:14 PM EST

There is a certain white racism at the core of this movement which may mean that when or if they suceed in their 'Great Work' they may 'separate the races' as part of 'God's Plan' but of course they will still be 'equal in the eye of God' after all, won't they? Even if that hypothesis is wrong having a theocracy of many colors is no better than one of one color if you or I are on the receiving end of their narrow views of life, liberty and happyness with their pointed sticks?

by Nightgaunt on Tue Apr 14, 2009 at 02:42:03 PM EST

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