“Non-partisan” Values Voters Summit shows its true partisan loyalty
The supposedly non-partisan Values Voters Summit sponsored by the Family Research Council this weekend was rife with slurs against Democrats–who had apparently been forgotten when the invitations were sent out.
James Dobson told the values voters that shouldn’t be afraid to admit that their country is at war with Muslims who are out to kill Americans. “We’re in a war and it’s time that we recognized it,” he said.
Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana felt certain that “conservative Americans are beginning to awaken to the perils of a Democratic Congress,” but seemed less certain about where his alliances lie in the immigration debate. After invoking the Bible to show that illegal immigrants ought to be treated with respect, he went on to say that they should all be expelled so as not to prove a threat to the American culture.
A certain bias was apparent even in the agenda for the summit. One workshop outlined a Get Out the Vote tactic for churches which instructed people to go through their church directory and to pretend they were pollsters from ABC News in order to find out how the members of the congregation were planning to vote. Also on the schedule was a discussion about health care titled “The Future of Health Care: HillaryCare or Values-Driven Health Care?â€ referring to Senator Clinton’s 1993 plan for national health care–a plan which Republicans rejected for its “socialist” tendencies.
And in an attempt to show up Chavez, Jerry Falwell informed a cheering crowd that for values voters, Hillary Clinton is a foe even greater than the devil: “I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate. She has $300 million so far. But I hope she’s the candidate. Because nothing will energize my [constituency] like Hillary Clinton. If Lucifer ran, he wouldn’t.”
Yet Falwell had no worries about Republicans turning out to vote even without Clinton–or the devil–in the race:”I think we’re going to keep the House and the Senate,” he said. “I think the Lord will take care of that.”
Others were less confident. James Dobson feared that Republicans might be swayed by their dissatisfaction with President Bush: “There is disillusionment out there with Republicans. That worries me greatly.â€ Bishop Harry Jackson of College Park, MD echoed Dobson’s concerns saying that “if they [Christian Conservatives] don’t come to the polls, we’re in trouble.â€
Rev. Don Wildmon even went so far as to critique the Republican Party, though it’s apparent he won’t be giving up on them any time soon: “We’re disgusted somewhat with some of the Republicans,â€ he said, “but we’d be in a whole lot worse shape with the Democrats. So, if you can’t get the whole loaf, take a half a loaf.” Talk about a non-partisan event.
This seemingly blatant violation of church-state separation has been called “just plain wrongâ€ by Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who claimed that the summit “violates tax law, it damages the integrity of religion and it harms our democracy.” Yet it seems strange coming on the tails of the IRS investigation of All Saints Church in California for a single sermon against the war in Iraq that this partisan display hasn’t earned more criticism.