Republican electoral defeat leaves religious right largely intact
By JewsOnFirst.org, November 20, 2006
The Republican defeat was hardly an unmitigated disaster for the religious right. Christian nationalists will continue to pose an extreme danger to the First Amendment's guarantees regarding religion.
Right-wing Christians control many of the state Republican parties and dominate state Republican legislative majorities. Given the loss of opportunity on the federal level, there will probably be more, not fewer, state legislative attacks on science, gay rights and reproductive rights. Additionally, there will probably be an increase in state legislation deliberately breaching the separation of church and state in school and public life.
We should expect state- and local-level efforts to:
As in the past, when advocates of pluralism object or successfully oppose their projects, religious right campaigners will resort to vilification.
On the national level and, in states where Democrats gained legislative seats or governorships, we should expect the religious right to wage aggressive, bullying campaigns to defend their gains, most notably:
Meanwhile, the religious right can build on its successes of recent years. The success of anti-marriage amendments presages a new round of electoral "wedge" issues (and the continued viability of gay bashing as an organizing tool).
Even more threatening are initiatives by lavishly funded religious right legal groups like the Alliance Defense Fund and the Rutherford Institute. These groups encourage local governments and school boards to fight lawsuits involving church-state issues with the avowed purpose of eviscerating the First Amendment.
Similarly, the religious right legal groups encourage individuals to sue schools and local governments that won't permit religious practices in violation of the First Amendment. This is very intimidating and sometimes the threat to sue is enough.
Amplifying this line of attack on pluralism are courts packed with Republican judges, plus a sympathetic Supreme Court.
The religious right continues to enjoy unrivaled media support for its agenda. That includes the sympathetic support of the aggressive radio and television hosts, not to mention the unfair, unbalanced Fox networks. Additionally, there are the hundreds of Christian television and radio outlets, the latter of which dominate the airwaves outside of major urban areas.
Moreover, the religious right enjoys a weapon unavailable to the mainstream: the authoritarian nature of their churches allows "patriot pastors" to regiment and mobilize their congregations for political purposes. In his book Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean argues that authoritarianism – and a constituency disposed to follow the leader -- has been an important dynamic of the political right.
The Republican majorities of the last decade presented the religious right with splendid opportunities for growth. Even if the legislative majority wasn't big enough, or religious enough, or right enough to enact their complete Christian nationalist agenda, it gave religious right leaders visibility and power, especially with their followers.
As it was in 1980 and 2000 for the anti-corporate wing of the Democratic Party, for the religious right the fall of the federal majority means a resumption of business as usual – the steady growth that increasingly crowds diversity out of public spaces. Religious right groups are already using the "threats" posed by a Democratic Congress to mobilize their constituencies and add to their bank accounts.
Are evangelicals losing influence in GOP?
Party eyes middle ground in battle with Democrats
By Kyle Henley, The Gazette, (Colorado Springs, Colorado), November 21, 2006
Evangelical Christians in El Paso County can take some good news and some bad news from the recent election.
The good news is that the Ted Haggard debacle a week before the election appeared to have little impact on results.
In El Paso County, Republicans won by the same kinds of margins they always have, despite the fall of Haggard -- a GOP insider who had led the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the National Association of Evangelicals. He lost both posts after acknowledging he had a long-term relationship with a gay prostitute and had bought methamphetamine.
The bad news for evangelicals who remain loyal Republicans is that their influence may wane in a party that is looking to swerve to America’s middle so that it can better compete with Democrats. Continue.
Christian evangelicals: Enablers of the wayward Republicans
Out of step with the American people, right wing religionists looked past GOP corruption. Next they'll probably be going local.
Bill Berkowitz, Media Transparency, November 26, 2006
Top shelf conservative Christian evangelicals, GOP political leaders, and a host of right wing pundits, columnists, and radio and television talk show hosts have just about finished hashing out the whys and wherefores of Election 2006's "thumpin." Much post-election talk has centered on both the actions of the so-called "values voters," and what the election results might means for the future of the Christian right. Continue
Election '06: Big Changes in Some Key Groups
Scott Keeter, Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, November 16, 2006,
Post-mortems on the election have rightly focused on a few big themes: the impact of the war, opinions about President Bush, and the strong Democratic performance among moderates and independents. But the shifting allegiance of some other important voter groups has gotten relatively less attention. One of the biggest stories is about young people. Another is what really happened to "The God Gap." And a third is about the one-fifth of voters who aren't white. Continue
Advocates Expect Democrats to Avoid Culture Wars
Andrea Stone, USA Today and The Pew Forum, November 22, 2006
Advocates for abortion rights, gun control and gay rights say they are thrilled by the Democratic takeover of Congress. Even so, they admit their issues aren't likely to be addressed early -- or at all -- during the legislative session that begins in January.
"I'm aware of political reality when you're coming up to a presidential election," says Caroline Fredrickson, Washington legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union. "I'm afraid (Democrats will) be a little too cautious." Continue