Now social moderates are not taking prisoners when is comes to flip-flopping when pandering to the Religious Right.
The Times, (Washington that is), writes:
The 30-second ad, airing in Iowa and on Fox News for the next 10 days, portrays the former Massachusetts governor as changing his positions on abortion, gun rights, even his opinion of former President Ronald Reagan. Paid for by the Log Cabin Republicans, a homosexual rights organization, the ad uses Mr. Romney’s own words from a 1994 debate.
Last night James Dobson appeared on Hannity & Colmes to reiterate that he is gravely serious about opposing Giuliani’s nomination, even going so far as to say he’d prefer another President Clinton. She would set the “pro-family” cause back, Giuliani would doom it.
Sean Hannity, ever the sycophantic shill, was begging Dobson back into the fold, but he appears to be off the reservation, maybe for good.
Note the portentous signoff:
DOBSON: Sean, this is a matter for prayer. I’m sure you agree with that.
HANNITY: I pray everyday, and I absolutely agree. Prayer and fasting, that’s all the help I need. Thank you for being with us.
The issue of abortion, I don’t think has gone away. People think about it a lot, obviously you do and you feel impassioned. I think that the American people struggle with two principles: There’s the principle that a fetus is not just an appendage, it’s potential life. I think people recognize that there’s a moral element to that. They also believe that women should have some control over their bodies and themselves and there is a privacy element to making those decisions. I don’t think people take the issue lightly. A lot of people have arrived in the view that I’ve arrived at, which is that there is a moral implication to these issues, but that the women involved are in the best position to make that determination. And I don’t think they make it lightly. I don’t think they make it callously.
The senator was responding to a questioner who asked: Why is there so much outrage over Michael Vick’s abuse of dogs when thousands of babies are being aborted each day with very little discussion?
This demonstrates what many in politics, especially progressive faith and politics, already know: abortion is a deeply complicated moral issue that does not lend itself easily to legislative solutions. Despite what the some conservative religious leaders would have us believe, the “culture war” approach has failed and Americans are looking for new ways to frame this issue and for creative, common ground solutions. Leaders, both political and religious, who fail to speak to these concerns do so at their own peril.
Beyond the recent debate over the third party threats of the religious right, there exist some subtle and long-term changes affecting evangelical Christianity. Here are two examples on poverty/urban sprawl as well as homosexuality.
Justice in the Burbs
And Zack, of Revolution in Jesusland, recently attended an evangelical leadership conference. It appears more and more religious leaders might be waking up to the fact that constructive engagement with homosexuals is a moral value — and a church growth value too.
. . .one thing really stood out, and subtly became the main focus of the evening forum. Apparently, all the anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives and other anti-gay campaigning have really been ravaging the perception of Christianity among the general public, and even among young Christians. He [Dave, of the Barna research group] showed one graph that showed favorability ratings over the past several decades for gays shooting up from low single digits to 33% today. (That might have been just among young people, I can’t remember.)
Meanwhile, right along with that, the favorability rating for “evangelicalsâ€ among the same group plummeted from high numbers to 3%! David didn’t argue for a direct correlation between those two numbers. But he talked about how today most young people know openly gay people, and they are having a hard time reconciling what their church says and their valued relationships.
If Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination and a third party campaign is backed by Christian conservative leaders, 27% of Republican voters say they’d vote for the third party option rather than Giuliani. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that a three-way race with Hillary Clinton would end up with the former First Lady getting 46% of the vote, Giuliani with 30% and the third-party option picking up 14%. In head-to-head match-ups with Clinton, Giuliani is much more competitive.
Over this past weekend, several Christian conservative leaders indicated they might back a pro-life, third-party, candidate if Giuliani wins the nomination.
…I firmly believe that the selection of a president should begin with a recommitment to traditional moral values and beliefs. Those include the sanctity of human life, the institution of marriage, and other inviolable pro-family principles. Only after that determination is made can the acceptability of a nominee be assessed.
The other approach, which I find problematic, is to choose a candidate according to the likelihood of electoral success or failure. Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles. In the present political climate, it could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades. Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.
Whether the Religious Right is playing chicken with the Republican party or genuinely pushing away from the table is anybody’s guess right now, but bluff or no, the very public nature of the fight is a sure sign that the Republican coalition is cracking. At issue is whether the party’s strongest bloc can force upon the party a nominee with dimmer general election prospects than the favorite. That is no mere quibble. The future of the party appears to be at stake.