Economic news, the possibility of health-care reform and even the death of "king of pop" Michael Jackson have dominated the headlines lately. But quietly, beneath the surface, the "culture wars" continue to percolate.
Leaders of the Religious Right aren't real happy with the current situation. President Barack Obama remains popular. Same-sex marriage is now legal in six states, and others are considering it. Abortion is still legal, and public schools aren't pushing fundamentalist Christianity.
What to do? Form a federation!
Several Religious Right organizations came together June 30 here in Washington to announce the formation of the "Freedom Federation" and to unveil a "Declaration of American Values," a document reflecting the same obsessions that have animated the Religious Right for decades: opposition to abortion, opposition to gay rights, xenophobia, opposition to church-state separation, etc.
The event didn't get much ink in the secular press, but The Christian Post ran a piece quoting several of the major players. I was amused by former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's insistence that the Federation is interested in "a process of addition and multiplication, not subtraction and division."
So the Religious Right now intends to bring people together by highlighting the same issues it has exploited for decades to divide Americans? Call me skeptical.
Groups joining this effort include the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Liberty University, the Family Research Council, Liberty Counsel, Vision America, Concerned Women for America, the American Family Association, Catholic Online, the Traditional Values Coalition and a host of lesser lights. The federation doesn't plan to hire a staff or open and office, and it's unclear what the next step will be. I have been unable to even find a Web site for this federation.
Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, who specializes in a daily dose of snark, seemed under whelmed. Dredging up the inevitable "Star Trek" comparison, Milbank seemed suspicious of the Federation's claims that it is politically neutral.
"While 'we have no allegiance as a federation to either party,' as Blackwell put it, federation politics are no secret," wrote Milbank. "Among the many others signed on to the federation are Gary Bauer's Campaign for Working Families, which is at the moment working on a campaign to 'stop Obama's socialism'; Lafferty's Traditional Values Coalition, which is trying to stop 'Obamunists' from destroying private health care; Exodus International, which promises 'freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ'; Morning Star Ministries, which recently hosted the Spiritual Warfare Conference; and the American Family Association, which is promoting a boycott of Pepsi for supporting 'homosexual activists.'"
In other words, despite the fancy name and all of the rhetoric, this really is your father's Religious Right. Yawn. Nothing new here.
Milbank noted that several of the speakers at the event made "Star Trek" comparisons, trying to hitch their movement to the popular summer film. I haven't seen the movie, but as a kid I did enjoy the original "Trek." I have some advice for activists interested in opposing the tired and repressive agenda of the Religious Right: Ready the photon torpedoes.