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 -- sometimes disturbing -- relationships with elements of the Christian Right.
From the origins of Charitable Choice and its offspring, the Faith Based Initiative, the diversion of federal dollars into creating an infrastructure for service delivery by conservative Christian groups is a long term, bipartisan (arguably transpartisan) project. Bogus gestures such as the effort to find common ground on abortion and claims of neutrality on abortion in public policy that marked the early years of the Obama administration diverted attention from the administration's secretive efforts to inexplicably direct federal funds, particularly in foreign aid, to religious groups that were hostile to the administration's stated agenda.
The list goes on, and fortunately, Paul Rosenberg, writing at Salon.com, surfaces some of these contradictions in an essay titled Progressives can't trust Hillary Clinton: What's behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right?: Clinton's mixed record on social and cultural issues might be explained by surprising views on faith and politics
Rosenberg's essay recounts the origins of some of the conservative Christian exceptions to federal laws and policies, how they have evolved, and the role Clinton has played in this. She is certainly not the only one, but she is the one who happens to be running for president.
...however tardy and halting her progress on marriage equality, Clinton has clearly moved in a progressive direction, just as she did much more swiftly and decisively on gays serving in the military. But what of the issue of "religious freedom" and the quagmire of entanglements with right-wing senators hinted at above?
I mentioned that the ACLU had opposed the Workplace Religious Freedom Act that Clinton co-sponsored. Here's a sample of some of what they had to say, in a letter to senators, about specific examples of "some type of harm or potential harm to critical personal or civil rights" that were prevented under existing law, but could be allowed if WRFA became law:
Religious Minorities: The courts have rejected an array of claims by employees claiming a right to proselytize others, or otherwise engage in unwanted religious activities directed toward others, while at work....
A court held that an employer had no duty to accommodate an employee's need to write letters to both a supervisor and a subordinate at their homes severely criticizing their private lives and urging religious solutions....
Racial Minorities: In addition to the claim for an accommodation for the display of a swastika discussed in the religious minorities section above, Kaushal, 1999 WL 436585, a court rejected a claim by an employee in a private workplace to uncover and display his KKK tattoo of a hooded figure standing in front of a burning cross....
Women: Courts have rejected several claims made by male employees claiming that employers failed to accommodate their religious objections to working with women during overnight shifts because they could not sleep in the same quarters as women....
Gay Men and Lesbians: .... A court rejected a claim from a state-employed visiting nurse who, during a nursing visit to a gay man with AIDS and his partner, explained that they would only have salvation through her view of Christian beliefs and that God "doesn't like the homosexual lifestyle." The court held that accommodating the nurse's request to proselytize her patients was not reasonable because it would interfere with the state providing services in a religion-neutral manner.
It should be obvious that--whatever the excuses--the effect of this "religious freedom" law would simply be to empower religious bullies. This makes a lot of sense for folks like Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, but it's a lot harder to square with the public persona of Hillary Clinton. So what's going on?
Rosenberg suggests, and I agree, that it may have a lot to do with Hillary Clinton's relationship to The Family, the secretive conservative Christian, anti-labor group that has quietly -- and increasingly -- exerted influence in the corridors of power in Washington and around the world for a century or so.
Read all of Rosenberg's essay, here. Retweet here.