Will Religious Right's `Mandate to Save America' corral the Tea Party crowd?
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Feb 18, 2010 at 11:41:35 AM EST
Rick Scarborough comes up with a document aimed at fusing the Religious Right's social agenda to the Tea Party movement

In the end, despite the laughs generated by Sarah's Palin's hand-o-prompter speech to the National Tea Party Convention in early February, there wasn't a heck of a lot noteworthy about the event. Prior to the convention Tea Party groups from around the country aired their displeasure with what appeared to be a money-making venture. However, despite the inside-the-Tea-Party-turmoil, the convention did manage to attract some 600 Tea Party supporters from across the country; it received a bevy of mainstream media coverage; and, it had its fair share of outrageous moments - Tom Tancredo's immigrant-bashing opening remarks being chief among them.

One convention development that might have slipped past the mainstream media's coverage was a new effort by some longtime Religious Right leaders to hoist them-selves aboard the Tea Party bandwagon.

'Tea party activism has become the driving force of the entire right-wing movement,' says PfAW

At this point in time, as People for the America Way's Right Wing Watch pointed out days before the convention, it is clear that "tea party activism has become the driving force of the entire right-wing movement."

Keep in mind, however, that in recent years, the relationship between religious conservatives and economic conservatives has not always been copasetic.

Back in 2006, before there was a Tea Party movement, Dick Armey, the head  of FreedomWorks - a major sponsor of the Tea Party movement - called one of the Religious Right's most revered figures, Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and his comrades "nasty bullies":

"I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they're easy. There ain't no thinking."  

Along comes Rick

Rick Scarborough, the founder and head of a small, but disproportionately influential, Texas-based outfit called Vision America, has come up with a plan to try and fuse the Religious Right's "traditional family values" agenda to the economic concerns that have thus far mostly dominated the Tea Party movement.  

At a workshop at the National Tea Party Convention given by Scarborough, the senior pastor of Harvest Point Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, unveiled what he's calling the "Mandate to Save America," a plan that might, as Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights who attended the convention recently reported, signal "a shift taking place ... transforming the focus from bailouts and deficits to the culture war." (For Burghart's complete report on the convention see "Revival and Revolt: Inside the Tea Party Nation Convention."

Scarborough is a former Southern Baptist pastor from Pearland, Texas, who in addition to Vision America, also heads up Vision America Action and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. According to Burghart, Scarborough told a crowd of 200+supporters at the Tea Party Nation convention that it was time that differences between "fiscal and social conservatives ... cease[d]."    

"In addition to attacking the Obama administration for its commitment to ending Don't Ask Don't Tell and supporting the inclusion of gays and lesbians into federal hate crimes protections," Burghart reported that "Scarborough warned that we `now have a government of thieves' and that we are moving towards a `collectivist' society. We have a Godly duty to defend `American exceptionalism.'"

Apparently Scarborough's remarks were intended as a kind of launch-party for his new campaign, called the "Mandate to Save America," a project of the S.T.O.P. Obama Tyranny National Coalition.

"We, the undersigned, and millions of other American patriots, including many who comprise the growing TEA Party movement, are no less determined than patriots of the past, who fought for our freedom," a pamphlet Scarborough distributed read. "We will make any sacrifice, endure any hardship, and confront any foe to keep the flame of freedom burning bright; so help us God."

Signers of the document included much of the old guard of the Religious Right including, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Gary Bauer of American Values, Janet Folger-Porter of Faith2Action, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, and Richard Viguerie  of ConservativeHQ.

The "Mandate to Save America" is a 10 point manifesto:
 

1. Acknowledge The Centrality Of Faith - We call for the right to publkicly acknowledge God;

  1. Protect human life - We call for the protection of human life from conception to natural death;

  2. Save Traditional Marriage - We call for marriage to remain the union of a man and a woman and we further call for families and parental rights to be strengthened;    

  3. Stop Judicial Tyranny - We call for judges to be constrained by the Constitution and laws of the land;

  4. Protect The Rights Of Parents to control the education of  their children - We call for educational expenditures to follow parental choice;

  5. Limit the size of government - We call for honesty in our government, limited to constitutional functions;

  6. Protect our economic freedom - We call for a free-market economy, because it rewards hard work, creates jobs and maximizes human potential;

  7. Practice fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and reduce spending  - We call for lower taxes, less spending, an affordable government and the end of runaway deficits;

  8. Focus on national security - We call for a foreign and military policy that protects Americans, maintains our national sovereignty and secures our borders;

  9. Secure energy independence - We call for more exploration, development, production and use of all energy resources.  
         

The only thing new about Scarborough and friends' efforts is that it may be the best organized effort yet at the Religious Right's attempt to latch onto the nascent Tea Party movement.

In a late-January column in The Philadelphia Bulletin, titled "A 10-Point Plan To Save America," Herb Denenberg wrote that the "Mandate to Save America" "was not intended to choose sides politically; it was intended to reaffirm the principles of our Founders." Denenberg's non-partisan credo was clearly in evidence in another of his columns, this one headlined, "Obama's Seven Mental Disorders from Pathological Liar to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and More; The Emperor Obama has no Clothes ... and also is on the Whacky Side."

Coming attractions

And, if the "Mandate to Save America" doesn't do the trick, look out for the "Mount Vernon Statement" which had its own launch party on  February 17, the eve of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.

More on that tomorrow.




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