Saturday, March 28, 2015

Varieties of Christian Right sloganeering

Sarah Posner has an column on the efforts by some Christian Right leaders to put a kinder-gentler face on their cause for the 2016 election, Evangelicals Looking for Walker to "Do Nothing" in 2016 Election Religion Dispatches 03/09/2015.

She talks in particular about Scott Walker's approach to signalling the fundamentalist base voters that he's One Of Them:

Speaking in 2012 to a teleconference with activists from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Walker said his faith has enabled him to rise above the “vitriol, and the constant, ongoing hatred” during the recall election he faced in the wake of his anti-union legislation, which has crippled the state’s once-iconic labor movement. Along with the unmistakable contrast of his church-going family with the profane and progressive activists, Walker cited two Bible verses. He didn’t recite them, but for anyone who knows their Bible—as Walker, the son of a Baptist pastor, does—the meaning was clear. The verses that helped him withstand the hatred were Romans 16:20 (“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you”) and Isaiah 54:17 (“no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”)

Should he run for president, Walker may very well turn out to be the 2016 cycle’s evangelical favorite—not because he ticks off a laundry list of culture war talking points, pledges fealty to a “Christian nation,” or because he’s made a show of praying publicly to curry political favor. Although by no means universal, some conservative evangelicals—those who eschew the fever swamps of talk radio, yet share the same political stances of the religious right—are weary of the old style of campaigning. They’re turned off by the culture war red meat, the dutiful but insincere orations of piety.
But she also reminds us that the "religious liberty" slogan currently so popular with the Christianists is also it's own kind of red meat:

The religious liberty issue is, for evangelicals, a “four-alarm fire,” said Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, part of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He said evangelicals expect the candidates “to have the courage of their convictions to persuade people about what’s going on.”

From the Hobby Lobby litigation to cases involving florists, bakers, and photographers refusing to provide services for same-sex ceremonies, the issue has been percolating in the evangelical community for years. In recent weeks, conservative Christians have talked and written prolifically about Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington state florist found liable under the state’s anti-discrimination laws for refusing to provide flowers for a long-time gay customer’s wedding, and Kelvin Cochran, the Atlanta fire chief fired after revelations about anti-gay comments he wrote in a book. ...

Given the level of division over these issues, it’s not clear that voters who aren’t conservative Christians would view the change in emphasis as a tamping down of the culture wars. Legal exemptions to permit florists, caterers, social service providers, or other businesses to refuse service to LGBT people are hotly contested, both in legal circles and in the court of public opinion. In another context, the Hobby Lobby litigation, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the contraception coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act violated a closely-held corporation’s rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was one of the most scrutinized and debated religious freedom cases in recent memory.

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