CNN is reporting that the GOP moves early to court conservative Christians. We are told that, “The first votes of the 2016 campaign won’t be cast for another year but there’s already a race well underway: The Christian primary.”
Republicans are actively courting white evangelical and born again Christian voters, knowing they will be crucial in early-voting states such as Iowa and South Carolina.
Leave it to the mainstream media to mangle the truth about the unholy marriage of the GOP and the Religious Right. This is not accurate news. It’s not even really news at all, and hasn’t been for decades. Because these days, the GOP and the Religious Right are the same thing.
After all, it was a year-and-a-half-ago that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the Republican Party was their party, that the GOP was, in fact, a religion.
Priebus reassured his audience, however, that the GOP is “a party that embraces marriage,” and that he “is a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that what ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day.”
Even then, this was just stating plainly what was by then an already established fact.
This was the inevitable outcome of a process that began with Goldwater’s defeat in 1964. As The New York Times observed in their September 28, 1996 issue, “Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign brought many evangelicals into active politicking.”
His defeat triggered the recognition by former Goldwater strategist Paul Weyrich that there was the vast, untapped potential of religious conservatives who could vote in the Republican cause. It was then that religious conservatives got a toe-hold in the GOP that they never relinquished.
The process continued in the late 1970s with the formation by Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority. Falwell’s message to his Christian soldiers was to “get them saved, get them Baptized, and get them registered.”
Paul Weyrich said, “We are talking about Christianizing America. We are talking about simply spreading the gospel in a political context.” Once you start spreading the gospel in a political context, you have hopelessly blurred the lines between politics and religion. Which was, of course, the intent all along.
Speaking in Dallas on August 21, 1980, with Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelicals in attendance, Ronald Reagan told a crowd of 15,000 Christian conservatives, “I endorse you.”
The timing of Goldwater’s now famous warning about the Religious Right is not coincidence, saying in a speech to the U.S. Senate on 16 September 1981,
I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’
Yet CNN wants to pretend this is a new development. Where has the mainstream media been while all this is taking place?
It was busy mainstreaming extremism. The mainstream media did not seem to notice any of this until 2012, and even then, Rachel Maddow had to out the MSMs downplay of Rick Perry’s extremist supporters, telling America that contrary to everything they were being told, Rick Perry was anything but a “mainstream” candidate.
Religious extremists, including David Barton, even wrote the 2012 Republican Platform, seemingly without the mainstream media noticing.
Religious Right insider Frank Schaeffer, self-described “former Republican religious right-wing activist,” explains how the two became one:
The 1970s Evangelical anti-abortion movement that Dad (Evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer), C. Everett Koop (who would be Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general) and I helped create seduced the Republican Party. We turned it into an extremist far-right party that is fundamentally anti-American. There would have been no Tea Party without the foundation we built.
And they are the same. As Schaeffer puts it, “The difference between now and then is that back then we were religious fanatics knocking on the doors of normal political leaders. Today the fanatics are the political leaders.”
Anyone who has any doubt of this need only look at our recent slew of Republican candidates, including Colorado’s Gordon Klingenschmitt and North Carolina’s Thom Tillis (another one of those the MSM considers “mainstream”) and Iowa’s Joni Ernst. The MSM ignored all her extremist rhetoric as well. The Religious Right rode a tide to victory in the 2014 midterms on MSM complicity.
Rick Perry has been joined by Bobby Jindal, and Jindal is now the one holding the prayer fast, and busily downplaying the extremism at its heart, and claiming his prayer fast is “not a political event, it’s a religious event.” Never mind that Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis of the group behind the event, the AFA, is very political, saying that the First Amendment (that’s politics, not religion, by the way) applies only to Christians.
We’ve gotten to the point where Bryan Fischer can say that he wants the Religious Right to choose the Republican candidate for president. It’s not clear what’s holding them back more: the fact that they’ve done their job too well and sprout a veritable plethora of candidates each presidential election cycle, fracturing their vote, or the Republican establishment.
But even then, Mitt Romney only got as far as he did by trying to sound more like Rick Santorum and less like Goldwater. The mainstream media took more notice of Romney’s numerous gaffes than his kowtowing to religious extremists by embracing their stance on same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraception.
We must take Reince Priebus at his word: The Republican Party is a religion, or at least a religion with its own political party. And if the mainstream media continues to ignore this fact, American voters must not, at their peril.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.