Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Crusading Crackpots Push The Envelope


October 01, 2007

The Christian Right Takes a Splendidly Odd Turn

Oh, happy days. One can almost believe in Dennis Kucinich's chances, when, in this vastly demoralized land, there can still occur blessed miracles like this:

"Alarmed at the chance that the Republican party might pick Rudolph Giuliani as its presidential nominee..., a coalition of influential Christian conservatives is threatening to back a third-party candidate in an attempt to stop him."

Rudy -- who reflects "very, very often" and quite negatively on such Christian judgmentalism, since he has "very, very strong views" on the subject and knows it "really, really well" -- was already looking weak as the GOP standardbearer in the general election. So this materializing rebellion by the powerfully Holy could -- it is very, very likely -- find him really, really up an electoral creek without a prayer of a paddle.

The furtive coven of Christian conservatives that announced the joyous news Saturday contains most of the usual suspects: Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson; Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council; direct-mail guru and part-time evangelist Richard Viguerie; and "dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians."

Reported the New York Times' The Caucus, "Almost everyone present expressed support" for the group's tentative fatwa that 'if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate.'" Only "consider," for now, but only because they ain't nobody in mind to run as a sacrificial elephant. I would suggest core-values guy Ted Arthur Haggard, but he might be otherwise occupied, what with all that self-exploratory counseling and all.

Still, whoever it may be, should whoever come to pass, there is simply no downside to this "revolt of Christian conservative leaders."

First, the very, very obvious: It "could be a significant setback to the Giuliani campaign because white evangelical Protestants make up a major portion of Republican primary voters." However, in polling done by the Pew Research Center, "Mr. Giuliani has received a plurality of support" -- but only a plurality -- "from white evangelical Protestant voters despite a rising chorus of complaints from Christian conservative leaders."

And that sets the stage for the second upside -- the rapturous leadership's "threat is risky for the credibility of the Christian conservative movement," since "some of its usual grass-roots supporters could still choose to support even a pro-choice Republican like Mr. Giuliani, either because they dislike the Democratic nominee even more or because they are worried about war, terrorism and other issues."

Yet -- and third -- even if a large plurality stuck this time around with the GOP supplicant, "nominating a Republican candidate who supports abortion rights," noted the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land, "would make white evangelical votes 'a jump ball' between the Republicans and Democrats, with other issues taking the fore."

In short, in overestimating their influence and pushing the ultimatum envelope, Christian conservative leaders could force the merciful retirement of social conservatism as a robust political movement. They could send it reeling backward, dooming it to somewhere around Prohibition Party status.

Perhaps all real Christians could then start thinking about those little secular tidbits that concern the rest of us, and, wild guess here, Jesus Himself -- you know, like decent jobs, liveable and educated communities, maybe even peace and the health of our childrens.

P.M. Carpenter

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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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