Further Adventures in Religious Rightism in the Democratic Party
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 01:43:39 PM EST
Great stinks used to be raised when, during the Bush administration, ideologues whose religious views conflicted with the basic science, law and even the constitutional underpinnings of the offices to which they were appointed.  Today, not so much.  

This was certainly the case when Catholic antiabortion, anti-contraception ideologue, Alexia Kelly, the executive director of the Democratic Party oriented Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good was appointed head the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the federal Department of Health and Human Services.  While there was a certain amount of initial outrage, it soon stopped, did not spread very far, and we have hardly heard a peep about it since

But journalist Sarah Posner writes in The Nation, that the Obama administration is on a full-boat pander to antiabortion evangelicals and Catholics in ways that concern not only abortion rights supporters, but separation of church and state watchdogs; and  Catholics for Choice has issued an investigative report on how the views of Kelly and her Catholics in Alliance cohort are far more in tune with the Religious Right than with the Democratic Party.  (PDF)

Posner writes:

At HHS, under Alexia Kelley's purview, tens of millions of dollars in grants are available to faith-based groups for projects including substance abuse treatment, mental health services, HIV prevention, family planning and even research on the influence of religiosity and spirituality on health-risk behaviors in children and adolescents. Although the Obama administration eliminated federal funding for abstinence-only sex education, the HHS website directs potential grantees to abstinence-only funding available through state governments.

Kelley's appointment is the latest in a series of alarming developments at the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (OFBNP), which oversees a network of faith-based and neighborhood partnership centers at eleven federal agencies (including the one Kelley will head). During the presidential campaign, Obama said he would expand George W. Bush's faith-based initiatives because "the challenges we face today...are simply too big for government to solve alone." But he also promised to end the constitutional violations of Bush's faith-based programs by requiring that federal dollars that go to churches, temples and mosques "only be used on secular programs" and by forbidding programs that accept federal money from proselytizing or discriminating against people in hiring on the basis of religion.
Since he has taken office, however, Obama has backtracked or stalled on these pledges. Perhaps more disturbing, Obama's OFBNP, while still a work in progress, is plagued by a lack of transparency and accountability and has seemingly already been exploited as a tool for rewarding religious constituencies with government jobs--exactly the problems that marked Bush's faith-based initiative.

It is this constituency--center-right evangelicals and Catholics--that Obama continued to appease through the creation of a twenty-five-member advisory council to the OFBNP. The council's mission is to provide policy guidance on poverty, abortion reduction, responsible fatherhood and global interfaith relations. Church-state separation advocates see the council's mandate, which frames major policy issues in religious terms and institutionalizes an outside council of advisers, as a step beyond even Bush's faith-based initiative. "This council either comes dangerously close, or it is a kind of institutional intertwining of religion and government," says [Interfaith Alliance president, Welton] Gaddy.

[Former Catholics for Choice leader, Frances] Kissling calls the OFBNP's mandate to address abortion "shocking." Expanding the role of the faith-based office to include abortion policy "sends a very clear message about what the administration thinks religion is and what the philosophical underpinnings of the administration's approach to abortion is. The administration's approach is religious."

Here are a few exerpts from "The Trouble with Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good," (PDF)

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good (CACG) ...  may just seem like another Catholic social justice organization, focusing solely on traditional Catholic social teaching such as care of the poor, environmental sustainability and economic justice. However, a closer look reveals that a key aim of CACG is to oppose the availability of legal abortion.

As it seeks to develop a higher media profile, the antichoice beliefs of CACG become more apparent. For example, in November 2008, one CACG letter to the editor in the Washington Post in response to an article entitled "Some Abortion Foes Shifting Focus from Ban to Reduction" stated, "[Pope John Paul II's] language about building a "culture of life" addressed the need for a broad response--legal, social, and cultural--to prevent abortion."2 This letter did more than all the public pronouncements of Catholics in Alliance to reveal its true colors: it is at one with one of the most antichoice popes in the modern era on abortion.

In concentrating on reducing the number of abortions, rather than the need for abortion, CACG is simply repackaging the antiabortion stance of the most conservative elements of society and denigrating those who argue for full sexual and reproductive rights. At an event launching what it called its "multi-year public education campaign" in July 2006, Executive Director Kelley noted: "At the core of Catholic teaching is a moral obligation to promote the common good. This includes looking out for the least fortunate and creating a society in which we as citizens care about our neighbors as ourselves."8 Other speakers mentioned "great moral matters" such as poverty, war and torture, and global climate change, but abortion was never mentioned, as CACG began the process of decoupling abortion from core Democratic values. CACG's position on abortion is firmly planted on the far right.  It mirrors the language of the very Christian conservatives CACG hopes to rebuff in its belief that abortion can never be a moral option for women nor should it be an essential part of social justice. In its own words: "Catholics in Alliance is prolife.

We support full legal protections for unborn children, as a requirement of justice and as a matter of essential human rights."

CACG asserts that voting for a prochoice candidate is moral, even though abortion is evil. Ignoring church teaching on conscience, the organization incorrectly frames voting for a prochoice candidate in terms of prudence, asserting that one can vote for a prochoice candidate if the voter is voting based on "proportionate reasons" and not on the candidate's position on reproductive rights. Nonetheless, CACG still holds that the act of abortion is immoral. As Alexia Kelley wrote in the book she cowrote with Catholics United executive director Chris Korzen, A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division, "Performing an abortion or driving someone to an abortion clinic to have one would be a clear example of formal cooperation in evil. But voting for a candidate who does not believe abortion should be illegal would constitute only material cooperation."

The report also discusses a voter guide issued by Catholics in Alliance:

More disturbingly, the guide equates abortion with the horrors of torture and war, saying that Catholics have a duty to "build the essential conditions for a culture of life, to end affronts to human life such as poverty, abortion, torture, and war."   By equating abortion with torture, CACG shreds any idea that abortion can be a moral choice or that women who have an abortion are moral human beings.

The Religious Right, which has always had a presence in the Democratic Party, is expanding its role by exploiting such contemporary ( and dubious) fashions in the Party as "faith outreach," and "common ground."  If progressives continue to ignore the trend, it may turn out to be an error of historic proportions.




Display:
State/church separation? No. National healthcare not based upon insurance companies? No. Punishing corporations who illegally snoop on its citizens for the gov't? No. Violating a treaty and becoming a war criminal himself? Yes. Is Obama just a different face for the same group that wants to turn us into a theocracy? So far a strong yes! Sadly, I think the cabal of Christian nationalists have taken over both allowed parties in our two party (only) system. That includes all of the Red Dog Democrats. The Republicans changed to red remember? Obama is touted as a Constitutional scholar, what has he written? He taught it but in what way? The David Barton way? One thing is you wouldn't want Machiavelli to be the one who is expert in you Constitution being in charge would you? We know many of them see where Machiavelli is of great use to them. He is no use to us.

by Nightgaunt on Sun Jul 26, 2009 at 01:44:39 PM EST


WWW Talk To Action


Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (2 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (0 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (4 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (5 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (0 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (4 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (6 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (7 comments)
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 (21 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (4 comments)
Fear
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (4 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 (4 comments)
"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 (5 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 (3 comments)
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 (2 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 (7 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 (2 comments)
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 (2 comments)
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)

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.