Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The "Christocrats"

Crossposted on the Moderate Republican:

USA Today has an interesting story on the rise of Christian conservatives in Ohio. It paints a not-so flattering portrait of Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is planning to run for Governor of the Buckeye State come 2006. Many conservative pastors in Ohio are supporting Blackwell. He featured in "Ohio for Jesus" radio spots and believes that God wanted him to be Secretary of State in 2004.

Moderate Republicans in Ohio are concerned. Two Republicans are lining up to challenge Blackwell and Neil Clark, a GOP official says that moderate Republicans in Ohio are worried about the state "going back to the Stone Ages of Salem."

The story shows again how narrowminded and exclusionary the far right tend to be. If you don't agree with them 100%, you are deemed evil. Case in point is State Auditor Betty Montgomery, who is running for governor next year. She back the gay marriage ban, but is considered pro-choice. Because of that, she is shunned. She says:

"If you get somebody who is with you 100% of the time and can't win an election, isn't it better to have somebody who is with you 80% of the time and can win?"

She might want to talk to Bill Frist about how he feels. Chargin RINO reports that since his swtich to supporting stem cell research, he has been deemed persona non grata among the Religious Right. He was not invited to "Justice Sunday II" the gathering of Religious Right activists that meets later this month. Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, excoriates Frist in a press release. He notes:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has now publicly supported human embryonic stem cell research and expansion of President Bush's policy regarding funding of such research. The statement from someone who seeks the support of the pro-life community [and who once had Presidential aspirations] is very disappointing but not a surprise. It is reminiscent of the speech he gave to the 2004 Republican platform committee, where he squelched open debate on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, as well as a 2001 Senate hearing testimony where he advocated production of hundreds of human embryonic stem cell lines which would have required destruction of thousands of human embryos. This reflects a unwise and unnecessary choice both for public policy and for respecting the dignity of human life.

These two examples notes a distrubing aspect of the Religious Right and what I believe is their contempt for democracy. Part of living in a democratic society means that you won't get all that you want. There are competing interests and they all want something. This is why compromise is so important. But the Religious Right thinks they are following God's will. If your viewpoint is blessed by God, then why bother listening to others? Why work with them? You could even take it to an extreme that you must eliminate dissenting voices. (No, I am not saying the Religious Right is bumping off people.) There is a name for the type of government that brokes no compromise and deems others who disagree as evil: it's called a dictatorship.

I think mainstream Republicans (moderates and conservatives) need to start organizing and countering the religious right come 2006. If we don't want the Religious Right to take this country back to witch trials, we need to get involved and take back the party.

Update:Charging RINO has an excellent commentary on the same USA Today article. His final paragraph is the kicker:

I've said it many times, but I'll say it again - there are those of us in the Republican Party who do not subscribe to the beliefs of the "Justice Sunday" crowd, who put pragmatism ahead of litmus tests and country ahead of party. We've been ignored for too long, because we've been quiet for too long. That silence must end, and 2006 will be the year to end it. 2008 will be too late.

There is a saying by the lesbian poet Audre Lourde that goes, "your silence will not protect you." If we centrist Republicans remain silent, we will lose our party and maybe our country to those who have confused naked power with faith. These people CANNOT control a major political party. Moderates must come together and get organized and take back the party.


At 4:56 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

I would add: if there are this many disaffected Republicans (and I know there are) what's stopping the Democrats from actively trying to woo them over? The problem is, the Democrats are currently in the thrall of hard-core liberals. And if the Democrats make a move to the right to snatch up moderate Republicans, the hard-core liberals would be left out in the cold. These liberals know this so they are fighting with all their might to keep the Democrats far to the left and far too irrelevent.

It's interesting. It seems that both parties continue to be seized by a small minority of "true believers" while pushing those who refuse to drink the kool aid (read: moderates and centrists) further and further outside the party leadership. But it is not reasonable to think this trend can continue.

Moderates and centrists must fight back in both parties. Some already are. More need to start. And it can't just be a rejection of the inflexible ideologies of the far left and right, but must be a new message that can grab the attention of all those who, through lack of a better option, have fallen in line with the hard right or left.

It's gotten ridiculous. The small minority of Christocrats and the equally as vain and harmful hard-left liberals need to be reminded that they are a small minority.

At 5:53 PM, Blogger Roxy said...

This is a very well thought out post. Thank you for writing the viewpoint that is shared by so many of us...

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our Father who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done,
on Earth, as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous kenB said...

It's interesting. It seems that both parties continue to be seized by a small minority of "true believers"

Blame the primary system. Moderates rarely survive it.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Peter said...

What is so funny is that I go to an evangelical, conservative church every Sunday and I share their beliefs on Jesus Christ.

But, I also believe that gays should be able to find happiness and adopt children, I don't think the 2nd ammendment means you can carry a kalishnokav, and I favor stem cell research!

I guess I'm an abnormality. I believe that I can put faith in Jesus, equality, and common sense all at once.

The ACLU, NARAL, Right to Life, Jerry Falwell, etc. are all too extreme for me.

I lift up the banner with former NJ Governor/fmr. EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman - "It's My Party, Too!"

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Jonathan C said...


Your experience is not unique. Moderate Christians everywhere feel the same as we do. However, for whatever reasons, we pipe down at church. We either belive its not the place to wage political war (it isn't, but it doesn't stop the extremists), or we feel that it would be rude to come in and rain on the parade of the preacher, or we just don't feel like getting shouted down by a gaggle of the righteously indignant.

There's a time and a place for everything, and it's time for moderate Christians to start advocating that you don't have to adhere socially conservative politics to be a Christian. The time is now... I'm just not sure about the place. Honestly, speaking up in church about issues that are best left to the town hall makes me as squeamish as teacher led prayer in public schools.


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