As reported here earlier, "sanctity of marriage" amendments are on the ballot in Tennessee, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Yesterday, Focus on the Family's James Dobson rolled in to Nashville to speak out in support of Tennessee's anti-gay marriage ballot initiative. Appearing before a crowd of 3,000 at the Two Rivers Baptist Church, Dobson said:
"We cannot afford to sit this one out, as some people are thinking of doing," Dobson said. "There is corruption in government. What Mark Foley did was unconscionable ... He's gone. But now that he's gone, (the scandal) is still with us. They are using that to suppress value voters, so value voters will stay home and say 'a pox on both your houses. We're staying home.' We cannot afford to do that."
The article notes the rift among Christian conservatives, some of whom are fed up with conservative politics:
Evangelical Christian voters have long been seen as speaking with one voice - a powerful voting block that has elected and helped keep Republicans in office in the past two national elections.
This year, after a high-profile scandal involving Republican congressman Mark Foley and dissatisfaction with the party's leadership on social issues - along with a new push on the part of non-conservative Christian voters to promote an alternative religious agenda - some question whether Christian conservatives remain as strong and unified as they have been in the past.
It probably doesn't help that some of them may be feeling used and betrayed following revelations in a new book by David Kuo, a former high-level official in the Bush administration's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. On 60 Minutes this past Sunday, Kuo said:
In his book, Kuo wrote that White House staffers would roll their eyes at evangelicals, calling them "nuts" and "goofy."
Asked if that was really the attitude, Kuo tells Stahl, "Oh, absolutely. You name the important Christian leader and I have heard them mocked by serious people in serious places."
Specifically, Kuo says people in the White House political affairs office referred to Pat Robertson as "insane," Jerry Falwell as "ridiculous," and that James Dobson "had to be controlled." And President Bush, he writes, talked about his compassion agenda, but never really fought for it.
"The President of the United States promised he would be the leading lobbying on behalf of the poor. What better lobbyist could anybody get?" Kuo wonders.
"The lobbyist didn't follow through," he claims.
"This message that has been sent out to Christians for a long time now: that Jesus came primarily for a political agenda, and recently primarily a right-wing political agenda - as if this culture war is a war for God. And it's not a war for God, it's a war for politics. And that's a huge difference," says Kuo.
Kuo also claims that he went to Ken Mehlman in the White House Office of Political Affairs with a plan to "to hold events at taxpayer expense for Republicans in tight races as a way of energizing religious voters." He says Mehlman (now Chairman of the Republican National Committee) was "thrilled" with the idea and gave him a list of races to target. We will leave it up to you, dear reader, to find the irony in Dobson's claims of "voter suppression" given these revelations.
Back in Nashville, not every Baptist church in town was on board with the Two Rivers rally last night. From the first article quoted above:
Meanwhile, at another Baptist church across town, other Christians gathered to oppose the proposed constitutional amendment before voters Nov. 7. Organizers used it as an opportunity to criticize and question the strength of Christian conservative voters.
More than 300 people came to the "Stand for all Families" event sponsored by the Vote No on 1 campaign and held on the lawn of the Glendale Baptist Church. Organizers hoped the event, which included speeches from local faith leaders and varied types of families, would counteract the message of Dobson's visit.
The Rev. Steven Baines of People for the American Way spoke of his Baptist heritage and his belief that "real Baptists believe in the separation of church and state."
"Real Baptists know that no one voice can claim the monopoly for God in America," Baines said. "I think our spiritual Creator would weep to know that across town, there are some preaching discrimination in the name of God."
The article also quotes state Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden:
"Christians are refusing to let extreme right-wing politicians define what God calls this country to be about," Herron said.
Herron said Tennessee Democrats had told him they are "woefully weary of being told because they are Democrats that they can't be Christians."
The message is loud and clear: faith does not have a political party, and no political party can claim to be the party of the faithful.
At any rate, the anti-gay marriage amendment will likely pass in Tennessee, and likely by a wide margin. The next question is which state will be the first to have to go before the United States Supreme Court to defend a federal civil rights lawsuit stemming from one of these discriminatory amendments.