Leaders of Religious Right groups are fond of telling us that if we elect more fundamentalist Christians to office, we’ll have less corruption. Biblical literalists must be more ethical, right?
These are challenging times for the Religious Right. The movement seems to be rapidly losing ground on one of its signature issues, same-sex marriage, and polls show large numbers of young people recoiling from the theocratic agenda of ultra-conservative fundamentalists.
So these groups must be ready to pack up their tents and go home, right?
When the Religious Right started to become a prominent force in American politics in the late 1970s, its advocates had a major impact on the country’s largest Protestant denomination: the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
Younger readers may be surprised to read that the SBC, which claims 16 million members, used to be fairly moderate on social issues. It strongly supported the separation of church and state, citing historical Baptist leaders like John Leland and Isaac Backus.
On Saturday, I received a letter from my old acquaintance Ralph Reed.
Reed, you might recall, ran TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition throughout the 1990s. After leaving the group, he started a political consulting firm that became mired in the Jack Abramoff casino lobbying scandal. He also tried unsuccessfully to launch a political career and even wrote some political potboilers.
None of these ventures gave Reed the payoff he wanted, so he came slinking back to the Religious Right. A few years ago, he formed a group called the Faith & Freedom Coalition.
The role of the Religious Right in the Republican Party and national political life is under a lot of scrutiny these days.
Everyone from Ralph Reed and Richard Land to Billy Graham and Tony Perkins did everything in their considerable power to steer the election to Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates, and they failed miserably. These folks even lost a string of referenda on issues such as taxpayer funding of religion, reproductive rights and marriage equality.
Like a lot of you, I got way too many political calls in the lead-up to the election. In fact, I stopped answering the phone.
If you’re a political junkie you might be following a story out of Florida centering on a man named Nathan Sproul. Sproul stands accused of engaging in voter registration fraud.
The other day a reporter from Florida called to ask me some questions about Sproul. I was surprised to hear from her because I didn’t think I knew anything about him, other than what I had read in the papers.
My wife and I are fans of the Sunday New York Times, and yesterday as we were enjoying the paper over a leisurely breakfast, she nudged me to make note of a story on the front page. I looked and was a little taken aback. Glaring up at me was a photo of an old Americans United nemesis – Ralph Reed. The headline read, “An Evangelical Is Back From Exile, Lifting Romney.”
The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, self-proclaimed messiah, founder of the Unification Church and funder of various Religious Right political causes, died on Monday.
Moon, who was 92, was familiar to many Americans because of the rather esoteric beliefs of his church – the mass weddings, the flower sellers on the streets and the allegations that the church was really a “cult.”
Loose morals abound in an election year.
Ralph Reed’s Faith & Freedom Coalition is holding its annual conference in Washington, D.C., today and tomorrow. That means Religious Right devotees have descended on the city to discuss “training and equipping” themselves to “advance conservative legislation” and prep for the 2012 election.