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Religious Conservatives Righteously Indignant Over Apparently Gay-Friendly Old Party

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In the midst of the media coverage and ongoing investigations regarding the Mark Foley scandal — during which several key Republicans have been questioned about what they knew and when they knew about the disgraced former Congressman who sent sexually explicit internet messages to young, male Congressional pages — the GOP has been revealed to be far more "gay-friendly" than religious conservatives have previously been lead to believe.

A number of social conservatives, who have been loyally voting Republican in the hope the GOP will work to preserve America's moral fabric and fiber, have been shocked and surprised to learn several key people in their beloved political party (Jim Kolbe, a Republican congressman from Arizona; Jeff Trandahl, the House clerk in charge of the page program; and Kirk Fordham, Mr. Foley's chief of staff, to name just three) are openly gay.

The revelation that there are more than just a few "token" gay Republican staffers on Capitol Hill has shaken Christian conservatives, who feel homosexuality — which the Bible tells them, in Leviticus 18:22, is an "abomination" — should not be so openly accepted in the party supposedly championing the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would enshrine, in the Constitution, the exclusive definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

Former Congressman Foley resigned from the House of Representatives on September 29, after the messages he sent to the pages were made public. Mr. Foley has since confessed he is gay; disclosed he is an alcoholic with behavioral problems, and divulged he was molested by a priest when he was an adolescent.

Gay-Friendliness in Protocol

The Religious Right was fittingly vexed by remarks made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the swearing-in ceremony of Ambassador Mark Dybul, the new U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator.

As First Lady Laura Bush looked on, Dr. Dybul was sworn in by Secretary Rice on October 10, while his partner, Jason Claire, held the Bible. However, what was most disturbing to the sensibilities of religious conservatives was that both State Department Deputy Chief of Protocol, Raymond Martinez, and Secretary Rice recognized Mr. Claire's mother as Dr. Dybul's "mother-in-law."

Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, said the secretary's comments were "profoundly offensive" and fly in the face of the Bush administration's endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

"We have to face the fact that putting a homosexual in charge of AIDS policy is a bit like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Mr. Sprigg. "But even beyond that, the deferential treatment that was given not only to him but his partner and his partner's family by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is very distressing."

Mr. Sprigg said, in light of the Mark Foley scandal, "it's inexplicable that a conservative administration would do such things."

After reading many news stories about Mr. Foley, in which the number of gay staffers on the Republican payroll have been discussed, the "pro-family" movement is starting to wonder about the party's lack of action on conservative social issues.

FRC President Tony Perkins said one of the questions that needs to be asked is: "Has the social agenda of the GOP been stalled by homosexual members or staffers?"

The ongoing Foley investigation and Secretary Rice's perceived faux pas at Dr. Dybul's swearing-in ceremony are revealing the politically awkward fact some GOP leaders are practicing a sort of tolerance other Republicans have not conveyed on the campaign trail — and lending credence to the charges made in a new book by David Kuo, the former second-in-command of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, about how the White House has used conservative Christians for their votes, but has consistently given them nothing in return.

In the book, Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction, released on October 16, Mr. Kuo wrote, in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove, some of the nation’s most prominent religious leaders were known as "the nuts."

"National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as 'ridiculous,' 'out of control,' and just plain 'goofy,'" Mr. Kuo writes.

Mr. Kuo also alleges then-White House political affairs director Ken Mehlman knowingly participated in a plan to use the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, as well as the taxpayers' money, for ostensibly "nonpartisan" events actually intended to mobilize religious voters in 20 targeted races — 19 of those 20 races were won by Republicans.

Where's the Love?

It is widely believed Republicans owe their 2004 election victories to the Religious Right, whose highly motivated "values voters" went to the polls, in droves, to vote for anti-gay-marriage measures in 11 swing states — and to cast their ballots for GOP candidates while they were at it.

However, the Republicans Party blatantly neglects the issues most important to its largest voting bloc. The GOP leadership talks mostly about terrorism and economics while paying just enough lip service to social issues to ensure evangelicals will campaign and vote for Republican candidates.

The controversial events of the last year, especially those of the past few weeks, have begun to cause the GOP's carefully constructed image as the party of "family values" to crack and crumble to the point where an increasing number of religious conservative voters are beginning to suspect they've been duped by Republican platitudes.

Greg Cain, in an October 17 Chattanoogan article entitled, "It Is Time For Christians To Leave The Republican Party – And Replies" writes, "Jesus wasn’t riding an elephant into town."

Mr. Cain then goes on to suggest "it is time to build an ark. It is time to leave the Republican Party."

It has become increasingly apparent to Mr. Cain the core values of the Republican Party are not Tennessean or Christian values. "The Mark Foley Branch of the Log Cabin Republicans has seen to that," he wrote.

An Opportunity for Redemption?

On October 25, New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals, but left it up to lawmakers to either rewrite the state's marriage laws to include same-sex couples, or to create a new system of civil unions for them.

Before the decision was handed down, conservative Christian groups were meeting with far less success in trying to motivate their supporters with the issue of same-sex marriage than they had during the 2004 election cycle.

Focus on the Family founder Dr. James C. Dobson held "Stand for the Family" rallies in three cities, but the turnout was much lower than anticipated, with only 3,000 people attending a Pittsburgh rally held in a 17,000-seat arena. The next two rallies had to be moved from stadium-sized venues to smaller auditoriums, and the tickets, which had been on sale for $7, were given away.

Now the leaders of the Religious Right are holding out hope the 4-3 court ruling will re-energize disillusioned and battle-weary social conservatives in the 10 days before the November 7 midterm elections, especially in those eight states with constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage on their ballots — five are currently expected to pass in Idaho, Virginia, South Carolina, South Dakota and Tennessee, while three appear close in Colorado, Arizona and Wisconsin.

Dr. Richard Land, head of the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention said, "Pro-traditional-marriage organizations ought to give a distinguished service award to the New Jersey Supreme Court."

Republican Congressional candidates who are in competitive races in conservative states and districts are likely grateful to have something with which to re-energize their religious conservative base, but the GOP itself has lately met with disapproval from an increasing number of those fickle moderates, who are quite displeased with the progress of the war in Iraq, worried about the stability of our economy, and disturbed by the state of our health care system.

Those masses of moderates — a 54%-65% majority, depending upon which poll one consults — also think "civil unions" for same-sex couples are a reasonable compromise (they can have the civil rights, as long as they don't get to use the word "marriage"), and place the issue very low upon their lists of priorities when deciding their votes — and they, of course, greatly outnumber the Religious Right.

The GOP's balancing act, in which it tries to please its evangelical base while, at the same time, trying to avoid offending the sensibilities of moderates, is not as easy today as it was in 2004, when the war in Iraq was still popular.

Republicans who are in close races in moderate districts and states are likely to ignore the subject of same-sex marriage and/or civil unions as they face constituencies that don't like the way things are going in Iraq, are afraid that the economy will not improve, and are concerned about the high cost of health care.

Turn to God

Maybe it's time for the good people of the Religious Right to get out of this sinful business known as "politics," and to acknowledge, once and for all, the GOP is not ever going to create the sort of Heaven on Earth it keeps promising, but has failed to even marginally deliver to the earnest, hard-working bloc of people who helped to elect them because they were lead to believe a Republican government would work to alleviate the temptation of humankind's ungodly perversions, vices, and weaknesses.

The Scriptures say: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

The trouble with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people is that it is ultimately comprised of our fellow sinners whose mortal flesh is just as susceptible to temptation as anybody else's.

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About Margaret Romao Toigo

  • Isn’t it interesting that when judges agree with republicans on such things as abortion and stem-cell research, they’re responsible and educated, and when the disagree they’re unelected reactionary aPpointed for life judges trying shove their decisions down the american throats?

  • Seven Star Hand (LW Page)

    Hello Margaret,

    Here’s some more red-hot ink for your pen. Now help me “vanquish the sword.”

    The time has arrived for those blinded by religion to open their eyes, see the light, and help me vanquish the sword they have been deceived into supporting and wielding. How can Judeo-Christians blindly support rich and powerful leaders who rule using great wealth, deception, war, destruction, torture, and injustice when the messiah is supposed to deliver truth, wisdom, and justice, vanquish the sword, and dethrone the unjust, rich, and powerful? What is wrong with this picture?

    No leader of an empire ever truly believes the religions used to manipulate subjects. That would be like a drug dealer hooked on his product; its bad for business…

    Understanding why religion is strong delusion

    Christians often quote things like “know them by their fruits,” yet after millennia of being duped into abetting blatantly evil scoundrels, many still don’t understand the meaning or import of much of what they read. The same canon paradoxically propounds “faith,” which means the complete opposite of “know them by their fruits,” i.e., to discern the truth by analyzing deeds and results (works) and to weigh actions instead of merely believing what is said.

    The deceptive circular logic of posing a fantasy messiah who urges both discernment of the truth and faith (belief without proof) clearly represents a skillful and purposeful effort to impose ignorance and confusion through “strong delusion.” Any sage worth his salt could understand the folly of this contradictory so-called wisdom. This and mountains of evidence demonstrate that faith and religion are the opposite of truth and wisdom. It is no wonder charlatans like Rove, Bush, and others have marked Christians as dupes to be milked as long and as hard as possible. Any accomplished con artist easily recognizes religion as the ultimate scam and fervent followers as ready-made marks and dupes.

    We now live in an era where science has proven so much about the vastness, rationality, mathematical preciseness, and structural orderliness throughout every level of our 11-dimension universe. Nonetheless, large percentages of people still conclude that these flawed and contradictory religious canons are the unmodified and infallible “word of God.” People who can’t (or won’t) discern the difference between truth and belief are easily misled about the differences between good and evil, wisdom and folly, perfection and error, reason and irrationality, and right and wrong.

    The fact that political leaders have always had close relationships with religious leaders while cooperating to manipulate followers to gain wealth and power is overwhelming evidence that the true purpose of religion is deception and delusion. People who are unable to effectively discern basic moral choices or to reason accurately are easily indoctrinated to follow the dictates of national and imperial leaders who wrap themselves in religious pretense. Truth and wisdom are direct threats to the existence and power of empires. That is why imperial leaders always strive to hide so-called secret knowledge and impose deception and ignorance upon their subjects.

    What then is the purpose of “faith” but to prevent otherwise good people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom?

    Read More…


  • Steve

    Well, I wouldn’t call Bush’s appointments to the Supreme Court as ‘nothing’. Better than the nothing the Democrats offer.

    Looking at the Dems., it doesn’t seem to me they are any more honest with their voter base. They talk a good game but rarely deliver either. So I guess one can be conned whether one is religious or not. Politics do emphasize the point that people are sinners at the end of the day, which actually backs up the Christian observation about human nature.

  • Bill B

    Better than the nothing the Democrats offer.

    Not having the narrow view of the fundies shoved down my throat is an offer I’ll take anytime.

    Besides, the author makes the obvious point that the repubs are too afraid of losing the middle by following through on their promises to the base. They’re not stupid. Just opportunistic.

    Great point about how their past methods are not as successful when there are some real issues that leave a bad taste in thinking folks mouths front and center. Would that it were true more often.

  • Bliffle

    That the religionists were Seduced And Abandoned by the repubs, is sad, but no sadder than the rough damning treatment that the religionists themselves have aimed at everyone else from their sanctimonious heights.

  • Great article, Margaret. I hope this is the issue that finally drives the religious nutcases out of the GOP. They need their own party and they can take the Neocons with them. Gooid riddance.

    That the religionists were Seduced And Abandoned by the repubs, is sad

    No, it’s ironic and inevitable. I can’t believe they managed to be so willfuly ignorant for so long.

    How Kolbe being gay could be a revelation to them is a mystery, since he’s been out of the closet for years.


  • I beg to differ, Jet. I think it’s typical when people cry foul over judicial decisions with which they do not agree. It is human nature.

    In sports, when the referee makes a call that is advantageous to team A — even if it was fair and in keeping with the official rules of the game, as well as verified by slow-motion instant replay — the fans of team B call the referee nasty names and question his eyesight, intelligence, and judgment; while the fans of team A will think that he is sharp, attentive and fair.

    But I don’t think the outrage over “activist judges” is going to be very outrageous as times have changed since 2004.

    Outside of their most conservative evangelical base (if they even have a significant one in their state/district), Republican candidates aren’t going to get much traction with the New Jersey decision; not only because it is more like Vermont in 2000, than Massachusetts in 2003, but also because the GOP is going to need every moderate vote they can get this time, if they wish to prevail.

  • Seven Star Hand (LW Page), the true purpose of religion for the faithful is not deception or delusion, even if that is true of those who manipulate the doubtful to satisfy their own vices.

    Faith is impervious to the plying of politicians and other panderers, for they are mere flesh, just like the rest of us.

    If one has faith, one doesn’t depend upon government or any other Earthly entity for delivery from temptation, inspiration to repent, inner peace, and salvation.

    It is the doubtful who are susceptible to such machinations because they are lost and confused in a world that frightens and angers them, and they are looking for something in which they can believe — or at least be part of.

    Hypocrisy is as old as humanity, and that it always seems to rear its ugly head in matters concerning the exploitation of human weaknesses for the attainment of wealth and power is part of our human nature.

    Faith is also part of human nature, however — and where we place it is a matter of free will. Religion is not faith; it is the institutionalization of scriptures and fellowship by temporal beings, who can be both good and evil.

    Truth and wisdom are not virtues (so they cannot be the “opposite of faith,” BTW) for they can be both good and evil.

    The evil truths and wisdom we cannot help but encounter in this life will test our virtues. When we fail those tests, we become more susceptible to our weaknesses, which makes us vulnerable to those who are looking to take advantage.

    It is cowardice that prevents people from seeking to understand truth and wisdom, not faith. And it is cowardice that makes people “easily indoctrinated to follow the dictates of national and imperial leaders who wrap themselves in religious pretense.”

  • duane

    It’s not cowardice. It’s just plain ole laziness.

  • There’s omething that bothers me about this whole thing, and a lot of republicans too… I hope. What makes them think that voting repbulican this November is going to stop gay marriage initiatives in the future, when the party obviously hasn’t stopped it in the last 12 years?

  • Les Slater

    Homosexuality is out of the closet. The awareness of gays in our mist is pervasive. As time goes by it becomes harder and harder to run with homophobia as a reason to elect a government.

    It ran its course.

  • wanted to touch base on a Margaret thread before i fade back into Obscurity, and i had found something that relates to this particular Subject…

    when Literalists talk out against homosexuals, they are always quoting good old Leviticus, well a tiny portion of it at least

    yet they seem to conveniently forget a lot of the rest of the stuff in the same book and chapter, narrowly focusing on the one Verse that suits their purposes

    i got a little video link that completely refutes the entire basis of their mewling far better than just about anythign else i’ve come across on the subject… from a fictional character who was Jesuit educated….


    give it a look, and remember it next time you run across some Westboro Baptist or the like

    thanks for the Thoughts and exchanges, Margaret.. and while we may not always Agree, know that i’m rooting for your Sane and Reasoned approach


  • dreck..the link doesn’t seem to work properly…so here it is…



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