May 24, 2005

The Naivete of the Christian Right

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 8:24 am

I have been accused of being naive, a charge to which I freely admit my guilt. But my naivete is by choice, not ignorance; while I am reality-based, I decide to take the naive view on this blog that politics and religion in the US can dramatically change for the better. Not so the Christian right. Their naivete reflects a blind faith in their own political power.

Now that the center has reasserted itself in the Senate, here are some leaders of the Christian right, as quoted in the LA Times:

“Unfortunately, 14 senators are allowed to speak for all of America, and they’re able to pick and choose the nominees they find acceptable,” said Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America. She predicted that senators would face political fallout from both sides of the issue.

Of the seven Republicans who signed the compromise agreement, [Rev. Louis P.] Sheldon [chairman and founder of the Traditional Values Coalition] said: “They didn’t have the backbone and the fortitude to stand up for the fact that we are the majority.”

James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family, which had been lobbying GOP senators to hold firm, expressed his “disappointment, outrage and sense of abandonment.”

Come election day, he said, “voters will remember both Democrats and Republicans who betrayed their trust.”

The naivete of these Christian right leaders is rather comical. They seem to think they have the power to dictate their will to the Senate. What they haven’t noticed is that the majority of Americans oppose abolishing the judicial filibuster. With such a highly visible issue, and with voters strongly against the conservatives, the Christian right’s mailing lists and fund-raising engine can’t compete with the electorate. The centrist Republicans understand that they will gain support in their districts by standing up against the nuclear option.

The Christian right hasn’t made their case to the American people. Intoxicated with their perceived proximity to power, they don’t bother trying to persuade the average American that their stands are in our interest. Instead, they presume they can call the shots regardless of what we think. This is naive.

This is what happens when religious leaders become political hacks. The target of political advocacy should always be the electorate, and not just a thin slice of activists, but the majority of Americans that decide which way the wind blows. Then the politicians with their fingers in the air will decide it is in their interest to support the majority. Perhaps not at first and not always, as political favors and campaign donations are traded. But power based on political capital from the last election will evaporate. Power based on truth, and public opinion, won’t.


  1. how did so few ever ‘speak’ for so many?

    love your blog – found you through karen @ kinesis

    Comment by bobbie — May 24, 2005 @ 2:32 pm

  2. It’s time for Democratic Christians to take a stand on the right to life that clearly separates those who claim to be pro-life for political benefit and those opposed to abortion strictly on moral grounds. First of all, NO ONE IS PRO-ABORTION. By that I mean that no one believes that abortion is the preferred method of birth control. The difference between extremists and moderates is that the exremists want to make it a legal/political issue while the rest of us prefer to keep the US Constitution intact and oppose abortion as being immoral. This point needs to be repeated every time the issue is raised. (WE ARE NOT PRO-ABORTION)

    There is growing evidence that the extreme fundamentalist position on abortion is based on grabbing political power rather than on morality. One of the clearest examples of this fact occurred on Wolf Blitzer Reports – CNN, when Pat Robertson became an apologist for the forced abortion policy of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) arguing,
    “I don’t agree with it, but at the same time they’ve got 1.2 billion people and they don’t know what to do…If every family over there was allowed to have three or four children, the population would be completely unsustainable.”

    Besides being morally bankrupted, this statement is just not true. Other countries have much higher population densities and seem to manage to avoid mass murder while maintaining their quality of life. So how is it that the founder of the Christian Coalition can overlook government forced abortions and infanticide? It’s because the majority of the wealthy Republican right wing enjoy the economic benefits of cheap imports and a growing market with 1.2 billion potential consumers. The next time you are criticized for being pro-choice and a Christian, suggest that if the fundamentalist right-wingers were serious they would show a bit of concern about the more than 1 million government forced abortions and the estimated 30,000 female babies drowned or starved to death each year by their parents in Communist China.

    So what can we do, you ask? Suggest to your favorite right-winger that they should check the labels in the clothes they buy before they check the price tags. Make the point that anyone unwilling to spend a few dollars more for a tee-shirt in order to send a messagen to the Godless Communist baby killers, would have to be the lowest form of self-serving hypocrite. My guess is, the typical Republican won’t be able to claim that their morality is more important than their money. Thousands of American textile and garment workers are being laid off in the US while Chinese textile/garment exports are growing at as much as 700% a year. Talk about a wedge issue…
    US State Dept Report on Human Rights Abuses in China
    BTW: Make sure you explain the difference between ROC (Republic of China – Taiwan) the good guys, and PRC (Communist China) the bad guys.

    Comment by amir — May 24, 2005 @ 8:10 pm

  3. the majority of Americans oppose abolishing the judicial filibuster

    I’m more struck by your sense of irony than by your naivete.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — May 25, 2005 @ 5:18 am

  4. Tom – that is funny! It didn’t even strike me when I wrote it, but the irony is rich.

    Of course, there are two issues at stake — majority rule, and minority rights. The filibuster is intended to protect the latter, and a majority of Americans agree with protecting the rights of the minority. But then explaining it doesn’t remove the unintended irony!

    Comment by Bob — May 25, 2005 @ 8:37 am

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