Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thou Shalt Not Support Liberal Positions

Like the infamous fifth Beatle, you could call this the long-lost eleventh commandment. Lost, that is, until the Christian Coalition and others on the Religious Right discovered its political power in the last quarter-century.

Just last month, the Christian Coalition brought on a new leader, Rev. Joel Hunter, who is pastor of a large nondenominational megachurch in Florida.

Rev. Hunter wanted to broaden the Coalition's agenda to include other issues of Biblical importance like addressing poverty and protecting the environment. As he puts it: "My position is, unless we are caring as much for the vulnerable outside the womb as inside the womb, we're not carrying out the full message of Jesus."

The Coalition's board didn't agree, so a little over a month after hiring him, they fired him. Well, the Washington Post says he was "removed," Hunter says he resigned.

Either way, this episode demonstrates the deceitful nature of many groups in the Religious Right. Although well known as political entities, groups such as the Christian Coalition still try to portray themselves to supporters (and potential supporters) as Christian-first.

In other words, as they like to put it, the positions they hold are Christian ones that happen to be backed by the GOP, which is why they, in turn, back Republicans. Indeed, they would never try to argue that they first pick GOP stances on issues and then look to the Bible second for a defense of them.

And if you ask just about any member of Christian Coalition why abortion, for instance, is opposed by the organization, they'll tell you because the Bible says it's wrong. I'd venture to guess the RNC doesn't come up once in the response.

But, yet, here we are confronted by other issues that the Bible implores its readers to address, and the Christian Coalition doesn't want to touch them.

What's perhaps most eye-opening in this is that the Christian Coalition board, in defending its decision to let Hunter go, actually put the blame on its rank and file for the move, claiming they feared their membership would revolt if other issues of Biblical importance were included in the group's agenda.

(Side-Note: Considering the Christian Coalition is currently over $2 million in debt -- after amassing revenues of $25 million per year just a decade ago -- it's questionable whether the base hasn't already revolted.)

It's amazing the board didn't think of how its membership would (supposedly) feel about Hunter in early October when it hired him. After all, the reverend is very open about his goal to broaden the agenda of the religious right. He even wrote a book titled, Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why the Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Fly with Most Conservative Christians. Yet, evidently, it took the board until a November 21 conference call with Hunter to determine his views were too threatening to the group's support.

This begs the question, what (or who) really caused the board's 180 degree turn on Hunter? Was it the Religious, or was it just the Right?

Of course, there is nothing newsworthy about the hypocrisy of using the Bible for the defense of certain positions while ignoring other positions the Bible speaks at least as strongly about (if not more).

But what makes this episode notable is that it's a concrete example of the hypocrisy in action. That is, rather than passively side-stepping the Bible's positions on issues like poverty and the environment, this move by the Christian Coalition actively rejects them.


Blogger James Wigderson said...

Actually Seth, Robertson and the Christian Coalition have in the past taken positions in stark contrast to those normally thought to be conservative, often because of Robertson's business interests. The Christian Coalition has been a factor on the right for a while, and Robertson has been thoroughly discredited.


November 30, 2006  
Blogger Seth Zlotocha said...


Thanks for your comment.

There is a significant difference between taking positions on particular incidents that help Robertson financially and the board's refusal to take stands on broad Biblical issues.

There is nothing stopping the Coalition from advocating on poverty and environmental issues as they do other Biblical issues except for the fact that they're not up the GOP's alley.

December 01, 2006  

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