Ron Paul's Fresh Faith Outreach in Iowa
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Dec 09, 2011 at 04:52:30 PM EST
The Religious Right vote is always split among various GOP candidates for president.  And every candidate has their own approach to maximizing their share.  As the critical Republican Iowa caucuses draw near Yahoo News has an eye-opening profile of Ron Paul's efforts to craft his own image as a Christian conservative, to reach out to conservative Christian voters, and how this is central to his campaign this year.  

One of Paul's senior advisers is faith outreach specialist Doug Wead who quoted his boss to a reporter for Yahoo News:  

"You know, the libertarians are just baffled by me.  They didn't think it was possible for someone to come this direction.  A person of faith."

The article also underscores how the Religious Right's theocratic policy agendas on reproductive and gay rights tend to emphasize national policy. And while Ron Paul's theocratic views are compatible, he insists that these matters should not be enforced via national policy but at the state level.   (Like leading Christian Reconstructionists, Paul emphasizes that generally government functions should be handled at the most local level possible.)  Interestingly, Yahoo News adds but does not detail how "Paul often articulates a biblical foundation for his economic policies."

Yahoo News further reports:  

In stark contrast to how he campaigned four years ago, Paul has made a concerted push during this presidential campaign to emphasize how religion has shaped his policy ideas.  Through public addresses, campaign advertisements and conversations with voters, Paul has engaged in an intentional effort to articulate the biblical roots of his philosophy.  These efforts are most on display here in Iowa, where most Republican caucusgoers align themselves with socially conservative views, and where Paul is building what has become a robust organizational machine to connect with them.

Two key people in the effort are: Wead, the man who advised two presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush in their own efforts to craft an explicitly evangelical Christian political image and identity as detailed in Russ Baker's 2009 book Family of Secrets; and Michael Heath, his Iowa campaign director who has been a leading anti-gay rights activist in Maine.

I discussed the book's revelations about Wead's role in a review titled "New Book Reveals How Faith is Like a Covert Operation":  

The story of the reinvention of the religious identities of two presidents and their faith-based political strategy...  

emerges in the wake of the growth of the religious right political movement within the GOP in the early '80s. In this context, what was a starchy, Episcopalian heir to a blue-blooded Yankee political pedigree to do?  And what of his reckless, apparently non-religious, playboy son?  These were the intertwined questions faced by Vice President Bush and George W. in the 1980s as they planned Poppy Bush's run for president in 1988--and W.'s political future.

Baker's chapter titled "The Conversion" features startling revelations that challenge the well-known narratives of the Bush family's religious history-- including the way they crafted a strategy for winning over the religious right, and the creation of a conversion legend for George W. Bush.  The purpose of the latter was not only to position him as a religious and political man of his time, but to neutralize the many issues from his past that threatened to undermine his future in politics (and possibly that of his father as well).  The plan probably worked far better than anyone could have hoped.  "I'm still amazed," Doug Wead, a key architect of the Bush family's evangelical outreach strategy told Baker, "how naïve so many journalists are who have covered politics all of their life."

The story begins with Doug Wead, a former Assemblies of God minister turned what Baker terms a "hybrid marketer-author-speaker-historian-religious-political consultant," who by 1985 had apparently been vetted and groomed to shape the Bush approach to the religious right.  "Instinctively," Baker writes, "he [Poppy Bush] was uncomfortable with pandering to the masses, and uncomfortable too with ascribing deep personal values to himself.  For that matter, he didn't like to reveal much of anything about himself, which was partly patrician reserve and partly perhaps an instinct reinforced by his covert endeavors over the years."

If Poppy was going to be president, Wead advised, he needed to learn about "these people."  Eventually, Wead drafted a lengthy memo outlining a way for Bush to surf the rising wave of the religious right to the presidency.  "This was the beginning," according to Wead.

Of course that was then, and the times and the candidates are different.  But the task is no less significant as Ron Paul seeks to reinvent his public persona to better or at least differently reflect how his religious views relate to his politics. Indeed, he seems to be making it a central part of his effort to break out beyond his famous hard core of supporters that number under ten percent in most polls.

Paul's other point man on faith outreach is his Iowa state campaign director Michael Heath, best known as the veteran former anti-gay rights leader from Maine.  He was the longtime head of the Christian Civic League of Maine, which was and still is, the Maine political affiliate of Focus on the Family. Although there has been some reorganization of FOF's political operations since then, it is still a full member of the FOF political family.   (Heath supported Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa in 2008).  Heath's role underscores the political heterogeneity of the Religious Right, since The Family Leader, the Focus on the Family political affiliate in Iowa will not consider supporting Paul because of his state-based approach to abortion and marriage policy.  

It all remains to be seen of course, how well it all works for Paul.  But the Yahoo News piece, and the realities of his campaign should demolish any ideas that Paul is anything other than a candidate of the Religious Right.




Display:

What a thoughtful article on Ron Paul's devious theocratic appeal to so Libertarians and RRR people. I have several aquaintences who really like him and I am trying to show them what he really is.

by JerrySloan on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:36:10 AM EST
I do hope this story helps your friends sort through all this. Meanwhile, it will be fascinating to see if Paul's faith outreach strategy works for him in Iowa.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 08:36:30 AM EST
Parent


Thank you for the article.
It appears that after so many years of war those opposed to war in the U.S. are really getting tired of conflict and are willing to ignore pretty much everything else about Ron Paul's platform in exchange for ending the wars and even shutting down overseas bases. He really is the only one advocating such a national policy course.

Ron Paul is also the most popular candidate with the military : "In this campaign, Paul is getting more donations from people who work for the military than either President Obama or any of the other Republican presidential candidates. That analysis comes from Paul's campaign and was confirmed recently by Politifact, the fact-checking project of the St. Petersburg Times."
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/onpolitics/post/2011/07/r on-paul-military-campaign-donations-/1#uslPageReturn

Maybe the evangelical officers corps might find in Ron Paul common ground with the soldiers and their families who are weary of fighting.

by COinMS on Sat Dec 10, 2011 at 02:36:04 PM EST



WWW Talk To Action


The JFK Speech That Made Santorum Want to Throw-Up
On February 26, 2012, (when I first published this post), the heated GOP presidential primaries were getting hotter as the Christian Right sought to......
By Frederick Clarkson (9 comments)
The Religious Bigotry of Rick Santorum
Now that Rick Santorum has announced that he is running for president, again, it is worth reminding ourselves that he is a coarsely obvious......
By Frederick Clarkson (24 comments)
Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Religious Right Rabbi: Christian Coalition Favorite Daniel Lapin Resurfaces
Back in the 1990s when I was regularly covering the antics of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, one part of the job was......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right leaders escalate anti-LGBTQ threats
As marriage equality has advanced around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue in June, threatening language......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Could Support for LGBTQ Rights Disrupt the Coalition of Jews and Evangelical Christian Zionists?
Some might say that the relationship between the conservative US Jewish community and Evangelicals is inviolable, with support for Israel being the cement that......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)
Whine Festival: Second-Tier Religious Right Leaders Still Don't Like Marriage Equality
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.In preparation for this, a sad collection of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Whither the Christian Right in the Democratic Party?
You don't have to be a Hillary hater (and I'm not) to recognize that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders have had long and......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 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)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 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 (0 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 (0 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 (10 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 (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (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.