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Culture War Watch: Cognitive Dissonance Edition

January 9, 2008, 12:32 pm | By Beth Dahlman

This week, Culture War Watchers learn what happens when events occurring in the real world do not fit neatly into preexisting categories. (Hint: we take a strange journey into an alternative universe where Mike Huckabee is the “religious left”.)

(Pst. Hey You, yeah you, the Media, I have a secret: some evangelical voters vote for Democrats! Shh don’t tell anybody) After goofing up big-time in its coverage of evangelical voters in Iowa, the media missed an opportunity to correct itself in New Hampshire. Despite the best efforts of so many people in the common good faith movement, the MSM is still learning that neither party “owns” the faith vote. People of faith, including–gasp–Evangelicals are diverse in political opinions. They are liberal, conservative and moderate and vote for independents, Democracts and Republicans. While the poor polling and ridiculous reporting continues (“pious” people apparently only vote Republican) the chorus of voices crying “foul” is steadily increasing. We’ll give the MSM the benefit of the doubt one last time though. I mean, it’s not like there are any nationally known progressive and moderate religious leaders or a simple place to locate progressive people of faith like, say, a map.

Focus on the Family soldiers on in noble quest to “help families”; Reluctantly spends millions on political action Culture War Watch appreciates Culture War icons like Focus on the Family because they keep us in the blogging business. Confronted with the hard facts that a new generation is turning away from its agenda and embracing new leaders, does Focus throw in the towel, admit it was wrong and adopt a new agenda? No! Focus President and CEO Jim Daley vows to keep up the good work and claims Focus still has its finger on the pulse of youth culture due to the young folks (the women at least) recognizing that “nothing is more important than being there for your kids.” (No word on James Dobson’s involvement in trying to keep the environment–a huge priority for young people of faith–off the Evangelical agenda). Daley also seems to be trying to take the emphasis off Focus’ political activities by saying Dobson was reluctant to enter the advocacy realm. (Again, no word on how once they got in, they seemed to like it just fine. Or at least, enough to spend millions of dollars a year through Focus on the Family’s political action arm.)

I’m sure Gov. Huckabee appreciates this

Since the Iowa caucus, several conservative commentators, troubled by some of Mike Huckabee’s economic record, have labeled him the leader of the “religious left“. This label is most likely confusing for Huckabee, who describes himself as conservative, and for those who actually self-identify as the religious left, who have serious differences of opinion with Huckabee. But wait, there’s more. Mark Steyn thinks that a general election match-up between Huckabee and any of the Democrats would end up being a contest between the “secular left” and the “Christian left.” Steyn does not seem to take into account the fact that the two Democrats currently leading in the primaries are people of strong faith or that Mike Huckabee is actually pretty conservative on several issues (other than the great liberal cause of creating a flat tax). But, no matter. Our handy stereotypes have served us so well so far. That’s how we know that Democrat=godless and that Mike Huckabee=as far left as you can get while still being “Christian.” If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The Scorecard: This week goes to the Common Do-Gooders, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are showing that they are taking serious looks at all the candidates and defying the conventional wisdom on what kind of voters vote for what kind of candidates. The culture warriors do get an “A” for effort, however, for doing their best to resurrect their familiar themes and to keep on culture warring in the face of an ever unfriendlier reality.

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Culture War Watch: Absolutely 100% not about Iowa Edition

January 3, 2008, 4:07 pm | By Beth Dahlman

Politically astute Culture War Watch readers may have heard that the good people of Iowa held caucuses last night. You have heard correctly…and since we don’t want to contribute to the media saturation of that topic, that’s the last we’re going to say about it. (Culture War Watch wants to note that this has nothing to do with her Minnesota roots making her passive-aggressively jealous that her home state’s neighbor to the south is getting all this attention.)

The First Story not about Iowa: Since Legislative Solutions for the Abortion Issue have Worked So Well in the Past…

Oddball residents of the Show-Me state are “divided on the abortion issue.” Wonder what’s wrong with them.

The Second Story not about Iowa: New Hampshire Shocks Neighbor State with Calm Demeanor

Oddball legislature of New Hampshire institutes civil unions for the state’s gay and lesbian citizens. This seems to have occurred without threats of violence or either side questioning the other’s basic humanity. Nobody’s head exploded, either. Wonder what’s right with them.

The Third Story not about Iowa: Robertson Announces Predictions for 2008, nobody cares

Despite having a perfect track record (we’re all still recovering from the 2007 nuclear bomb detonation), Pat Roberston’s predictions don’t seem to have gotten a lot of attention so far this year. Perhaps it was that he mostly focused on (sadly) pretty safe bets like worldwide violence and high oil prices. Or maybe the press is just focused on last night’s activities in the state-that-must-not-be-named. Who knows? But I like it.

The Scorecard (also not about Iowa): Culture War Watch likes the fact that culture warrior Robertson seems to be getting ignored, so we’re going to give this round to the common do-gooders. Although, this begs the philosophical question: If a televangelist makes a false prediction, and the media do not cover it, how will he ever make a fool of himself?

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Culture War Watch: Appearances can be Deceiving Edition

December 12, 2007, 3:21 pm | By Beth Dahlman

Telling Culture Warriors and Common Do-Gooders apart sounds easy, but can actually be really tricky. Luckily, you have Culture War Watch to interpret for you.

Whereas, We have no problem wasting tax dollars on pointless resolutions

On the face of it, a Congressional resolution commending Christmas seems rather harmless, festive, even. However, the resolution “Recognizing the Importance of Christmas and the Christian Faith” seems to be designed exclusively to put some more ammunition into the mythical “war on Christmas” Especially as its sponsor, Rep. Pete King, said that those who didn’t support the resolution “voted ‘no’ on Christianity” (note to the sponsors: didn’t you know that Bill O’Reilly single-handedly saved Christmas last year? you don’t have to worry about this any more). This exaggeration of the power and malicious intents of your opponents, however, is the first step in spotting a Culture Warrior. You’re likely to identify a Common Do-Gooder by their focus on the poor and vulnerable and the real meaning of the holiday (from any tradition). Meanwhile, actual wars are destroying actual lives, and taking down Christmas too.

Irony overload

So, we are considering renaming this series “Tony Perkins Watch” as the Family Research Council never seems to disappoint us in our search for new material. We should probably get over it already or go get some therapy, but we just can’t seem to let his absurdity go without comment. This week he got in a one-two punch by gloating over how he helped defeat anti-hate crime legislation and then using the church shootings in Colorado to take a jab at the “secular media” for stirring up anti-Christian sentiment. Just so we’re all clear, after twisting the truth to re-label hate crimes legislation “thought crimes,” and claiming that it would be completely unjust to hold somebody who had preached against homosexuality accountable if one of their flock committed a violent act against a GLBT person (even though that’s not what the bill was going to do in the first place), Mr. Perkins essentially makes the case that the Colorado Springs shootings were hate crimes against Christians and the “secular media” is responsible. Makes perfect sense, right?

An Inconvenient Statement

Pope Benedict is something of a culture war wild card, as those on both sides are likely to appropriate things he says to serve their own purposes. For instance, his remarks on prioritizing environmental stewardship and the poor over military spending will probably go down well with the Common Do-Gooders. But we have a feeling the Culture Warriors will find something to love in some of his other recent remarks about the family.

We smell a theme for the National Organization for Marriage’s new ad campaign

The Scorecard:

Sadly, looks like the Culture Warriors have this week. Common Do-Gooders better step up their game!

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Culture War Watch: Turkey Edition

November 28, 2007, 1:02 pm | By Beth Dahlman

Could it be? Did the Culture Warriors get so wrapped up in the spirit of Thanksgiving that they called a brief cease fire? (I’d blame the tryptophan, but I guess that’s out now) Hard to believe, but all was (relatively) quiet on the Culture War Front this week, allowing the Common Do-Gooders more time to shine. This week’s highlights:

I’d go just for the crab cakes: Middle East peace talks are currently being held in Annapolis, the one-time home of the federal legislature and the current home of tasty crustaceans. Expectations for the outcome are relatively low, but regardless, Culture War Watch thinks it takes a lot of courage to sit down with your enemies, and we hope for the best.

Washington hearts Bono; is it because “U2″ is the ideal band name for blackberry users? Pulitzer material? Probably not (no offense), but this Washington Post piece on the rock star turned rock star/activist was encouraging nonetheless. Best quotes: “I think knowing the Scriptures helped,”– Bono on conversations with legislators and “I like him because he’s a cool guy,”–former (very conservative) Republican Congressman John Kasich.

Did you know it’s really hard to make stem cells funny? New technology looks like it will be able to diffuse some of the conflict over stem cell research. To be sure, it doesn’t solve the underlying ideological issues, but it might help us get closer to some groundbreaking cures regardless.

Finally, a few desperate shots from the culture warriors: so, there were a few rumbles near the front lines, but nothing too significant. Rev. Ken Hutcherson announced plans to take-over Microsoft due to some of their pro-gay rights stances. Clearly, this is the best use of everybody’s money.

Oh, and Tony Perkins sent us some weird notes.

The Scorecard: Common Do-Gooders have it. I mean, they’ve got Bono.

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Maybe he needs glasses?

November 27, 2007, 3:50 pm | By Beth Dahlman

Apparently, Tony Perkins and I don’t read anything the same way. Not Scripture, not articles in the Washington Post.

The latest example is in today’s “Washington Update” which began with an analysis of a piece in yesterday’s Washington Post. Perkins claims that the article is evidence of, “how major issues like abortion and marriage are uniting African-Americans and allowing the Republican Party to make potential inroads into this community.”

Well, that’s true I guess, the article (featured on yesterday’s Daily Faith News Reel) does touch on how anti-gay marriage initiatives in 2004 helped Bush win a higher percentage of the African-American vote than Republicans normally do, but it seems a bit ridiculous to suggest that’s what the entire piece was on.

In fact, most of the article focused on how African American evangelicals have traditionally, and continue to, give strong weight to a whole range of issues including education, civil rights and poverty, as well as abortion and same sex marriage.

Like in this quote:

“Morality is different in terms of the way we see it and white evangelicals see it,” said Pastor Lyle Dukes of Harvest Life Changers Church in Woodbridge, … who supported Bush in 2004. “What we think is moral is not only the defense of marriage, but we also think equal education is a moral issue. We think discrimination is immoral.”

Dukes is looking at candidates in both parties this year.

and this one:

On his way out of the noon Bible study at Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in the District the other day, Stephen Peagler, 27, said he is a faithful churchgoer who believes that abortion and same-sex marriage are wrong. But, he said, when it comes to voting, he’s looking for a candidate who will address issues that are more relevant in his everyday life. And Democrats are more likely to deal with the high incarceration rates of black men and underperforming inner-city schools, he said.

But all this seems lost on Perkins who somehow sees this article as an opportunity to bash Democrats’ faith outreach initiatives claiming it is, “ironic is that while some leaders of the Democratic Party have started embracing the language of faith with the hopes of attracting religious voters, most still want to hold the party line of abortion on demand and remain estranged from traditional marriage.”

Of course, Perkins has some words of caution for Republicans too, especially if they nominate somebody who has a less than perfect (in his eyes) record on abortion and gay rights (I have not idea who that could be).

According to Perkins (emphasis mine):

While the Republicans experienced the powerful pull of social issues on African-Americans in 2004 because of the marriage issue, they are increasingly distancing themselves from these key issues that speak the true language of faith and bring Christian voters into the fold. If issues that are important to so many Christians, both black and white, are ignored by both parties then ultimately both parties may find they are ignored by many Christians.

Well, kudos to Perkins for “standing up” to Republicans, but he never really grasped the concept that there are other issues important to people of faith which influence voting behavior.

You know, like, poverty. Which is discussed in over 2,000 verses in the Bible. But I guess, to Tony’s eyes, that’s not enough words to form the “true language of faith.”

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