Daily Kos: Note to the Religious Right: Beware the Day We Pick Up the Gauntlet

Most Americans are not affiliated with extremist religious-right Christian groups have been sitting on the sidelines while these self-proclaimed culture warriors have waged their war. It has been a one-sided fight for over three decades.

* Jeff Softley's diary :: ::

Picking up the gauntlet (4.00 / 3) by TarheelDem

Let's be clear about who is winning the culture wars. We are. If this were not so Dobson wouldn't be "throwing down the gauntlet" for an essentially diversionary fight. They would not have to lie in order to insinuate themselves onto Boards of Education. They would not have to rig votes. They would not have to put their people on 24/7/365 pushing their agenda through a captive media. They are desperate.

Let me explain. Here is what we've won. Segregation is gone and racism is not tolerated by most Americans. Discrimination exists only where racists can make people feel afraid for their jobs and for their neighbors. So much so, that the Republicans are exploiting charges of racism in order to put black and Hispanic extreme conservatives in office.

Feminism is not at controversy. It has to be mocked as "femi-Nazis" because it is the prevailing thought in America. There is a lot of work left to do here, but essentially this battle is won, but only if we consolidate it.

The corner has been turned for most people in accepting gay rights. This is dramatically different than it was 20 years ago. For the most part, only homophobic gay conservatives are not out of the closet yet. Corporations are extending benefits to same-sex couples. Courts have ruled that same-sex marriage is a matter of equal opportunity under the law. J. Edgar Hoover would have difficulty blackmailing as many people were he to come back today.

Even among the religious, the battles are being won. The Catholic Church denies communion to a group of people wearing rainbow sashes. Don't focus on the reaction of the priest; focus on the fact that there were people willing to force this issue. Even ten years ago, that would be unheard of. The ability of gays in committed relationships to be clergy in the United Methodist Church, once thought impossible and then a dead issue, is still alive.

Art still is controversial; music still challenges culture and politics from diverse angles; literature has not been reduced to the Left Behind series. For science, the evolution/intelligent design controversy is a sideshow among those who don't know science instead of an issue that cuts to the core paradigm of biology.

A national consensus is emerging on abortion: that it is a matter of choice, that government should butt out of intervention, that juveniles need to have some responsible adult as counsel when their family has rejected them, that women should not be compelled to the carry children from rape or incest. That we must all work so that the number of women who have to make these choices is rare. The Catholic Church does not like this consensus; it means that they would have to deal with the issue instead of palming it off on government. They might have to act like a church. So sad. But another sign of their desperation.

Note to the Religious Right: Beware the Day We Pick Up the Gauntlet

by Jeff Softley
Occasional RawStory Columnist

We hear a lot these days about the "culture wars" going in this country. There is currently an intense drumbeat for imposing religious-right views through the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government now that Republicans hold all three.

Essentially religious-right Team Rapture conservatives have demanded of president Bush we brought you now you deliver, with the Arlington Group, a coalition of major conservative Christian groups, and others essentially casting themselves as hardball political operatives and now demanding their quid pro quo.

In fact, culture war is a strategic rhetorical term which has been in use for some thirty years since the Republican Party and affiliated religious right organizations and leaders first chose it as a weapon to use against the Democratic Party and political progressives. In the wake of the 2004 election, which some analysts say was won for Bush with the expanded turnout of religious-right voters the spray of the term as high-energy rhetorical artillery is in full-swing.

The key artilleryman is Focus on the Family's James Dobson, a radio psychologist with no formal religious training. It is Dobson who says, "a civil war of values continues to rage," and has said, "[we] threw down the gauntlet" to those who's politics and version of morality do not fit his.

As the debacle with the Terri Schiavo deathwatch-and-posture Republican legislative fiascos can attest, as well as the evaporation of president Bush's

"political capital" just 100 days after the mandate he claimed, one shouldn't declare war nor attempt to wage one against a sleeping giant.

That giant is the American people. They rose up and slapped down the attempts to use Schiavo as a propaganda tool to impose narrow religious views related to the complicated issue of the right-to-die. By margins as wide as 80% polls showed the public deeply upset at political leaders using the Dobson approach to compel a certain outcome in this case on this issue. It backfired, and the price has been steady erosion in Bush's and the Republican Party's public support and growing mistrust of people like Dobson and their agenda.

Success has gone to the heads of Dobson and his kind. They see some short-term victories in recent elections (electronic vote-tabulators notwithstanding) and the long-term success of their demonizing of certain words (such as liberal) and effectively negative-associating their enemies: progressives and the Democratic Party, and as reflecting some sea-change in public attitudes. You even hear lofty pronouncements that somehow liberalism is dead and conservativism is the only philosophy which will shape America from here on out.

I think I recall hearing that God is Dead back in the late 60s, and that didn't seem to prove true either. There are as many religious zealots today as ever, and some are clearly quite active in American politics.

The point is that most Americans not affiliated with extremist religious-right Christian groups have been sitting on the sidelines while these self-proclaimed culture warriors have waged their war. It has been a one-sided fight for over three decades. There has never been a master plan or some broad array of policy goals by an integrated set of liberals to impose some new moral order upon a reluctant society. What there has been is progress.

Dobson and his ilk are threatened by nothing more than the evolution of society. Oops, did I use the e word?

Yes, that's right, society moving forward from the knowledge and experience it has gained is what frightens Dobson and his fellow culture-war Crusaders. We used to believe the Earth was flat, and we used to believe it was okay to enslave other human beings, and we used to think it was acceptable to persecute the homosexual, or those with disabilities and on and on it goes. Yet we grew, we learned, we owned up to some of our mistakes and we made changes. Conservatives are always afraid of change and the future and, well, anything they cannot completely control. But Dobson and his culture warriors have grossly miscalculated both the public response to their efforts and their effectiveness.

The return of Bush to the White House and Republican control of the Congress and most of the judiciary (most federal judges were appointed by Republicans despite what conservatives would have you believe with their strategic "liberal judges" ranting), is the culmination of Team Rapture's 30+ years of active politicking in close concert with the Republican Party. Yet they are about to learn two harsh lessons: One, that the Republicans will hang them out to dry when they become a liability - which may be soon; and Two, that the dreaded liberals and just regular folks who don't define themselves as liberal or conservative may well pick up the gauntlet Dobson and his gang threw down long ago....

Daily Kos: Note to the Religious Right: Beware the Day We Pick Up the Gauntlet


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