Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A warning about GOP, religion—30 years ago


By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer

Here's something you probably don't know: The right to bear arms was ordained by God. Also, the Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to protect the planet from pollutants is heading America "on the road to dictatorship."

Must be true. Newt Gingrich said so.

That, and other tripe, was dished up to 400 religious-right pastors late last month during two days of political pep talks in Des Moines, Iowa, by Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee at a "Pastors' Policy Briefing"—"briefing," as in a political teach-in.

To avoid jeopardizing church tax exemptions, Republican indoctrinators told pastors to conceal their political partisanship simply by claiming their political sermons were "biblically informed"—as in (wink!), from the word of God, like gun rights. Can pastors lie?

One speaker slipped up. "The end result (of the briefings) is political," he boasted.

Brazen? Of course. Would the IRS prosecute churches for violating tax exemptions with the phony "biblically informed" dodge? Hah.

Mixing religion and politics is what the crusty conservative Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater began warning his party about 30 years ago. He was ferocious about the GOP's bedding down with the religious right, roaring in a 1981 Senate speech, "I am warning them today. I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'"

I personally saw Goldwater's despair. Over lunch or chatting in his hilltop Paradise Valley house with a view of the Phoenix area or in letters, Goldwater was unrelenting. Something I wrote prompted this Dec. 1, 1992, Goldwater reply:

"It bothers the living daylights out of me too, to watch this Party that I've worked pretty hard on all my life to suddenly level off and head in the wrong direction. To tell you the truth, Pat, (when) these people who are making millions of dollars off of religion ... couple that effort with a more disastrous effort of tying politics into it, then I think we have something that the Founding Fathers foresaw as dangerous ... namely mixing politics."

In another place, Goldwater said: "If they succeed in establishing religion as a basic Republican Party tenet, they could do us in."

Didn't Republican religious fanaticism over Planned Parenthood funding almost shut down the U.S. government?

In Iowa, GOP Mississippi Gov. Barbour blamed "liberals" for trying to remove religion from politics.

In fact, "Mr. Conservative" Barry Goldwater saw the peril and led the way.

Republicans ignored Goldwater. Today they're stuck with the religious right as a partner.




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