1. Signs Point to an Evangelical Revival for Romney; Prince of Darkness Thinks Christians Heart Giuliani
With the Family Research Council/Focus on the Family "Values Voter" Summit just days away, FRC President Tony Perkins hinted to reporters that Mitt Romney's Mormonism isn't such a big deal after all. Perkins' cult-shmult conference call came on the heels of evangelical public relations guru Mark DeMoss sending a five-page letter of support for Romney to evangelical leaders. (DeMoss, who has worked with many major evangelical figures, including the late Jerry Falwell, has volunteered for Romney's campaign since last year.)
In the letter, DeMoss invoked Falwell, suggesting that his old mentor never would have sat out an election (i.e., voted for a third-party candidate) when two, and possibly four Supreme Court appointments were on the line. "I believe we can make a difference -- the difference in this election," wrote DeMoss, "and if Mitt Romney should become the 44th president of the United States, I'm confident he won't forget how he got there."
John Hagee, president of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), said on Glenn Beck's television program that he could vote for Romney despite his religion "because I know him to be moral, I know him to have high principles, I know him to believe in a work ethic, I know that he has a family orientation that is very devout, and very pure, and that is basically the social problem that's destroying the fabric of this country right now. The family is coming unraveled." (Take that, twice-divorced Giuliani, from the once-divorced pastor!)
Focus on the Family came under fire from its own grassroots supporters for James Dobson's agitation for a third-party alternative to Rudy Giuliani, which they believed would amount to a Hillary Clinton victory. On his radio program Friday, Dobson protested, "I'm only one person. I don't tell other people how to vote." Where in the world did anyone get that idea?
Mike Huckabee, who thus far has been deprived of Dobson’s stamp of approval, politely called Dobson on his “who, me?” routine. He lamented in a PBS interview, "I think that some of them [Christian conservative leaders] frankly are more intoxicated with power than principle."
Bob Novak insisted that Giuliani is the Christian right's guy because he's the one who is tough on security, the new "values" issue. (Perhaps Novak should ask New York City firefighters what they think about that.) Beliefnet's God-o-Meter asked, "Is God-o-Meter the only one who still doubts that most churchgoing evangelicals will back America's Mayor?" I'm with God-o-Meter. “Churchgoing evangelicals” (or churchgoers in general) are not necessarily conservative.
2. Debunking the Myth of the Evangelical Monolith
Last week, Third Way and a group of moderate and liberal evangelical leaders unveiled a position paper intended to forge new political dialogue between progressives and evangelicals by finding common ground on issues like abortion and gay marriage. Recognizing that just half of white evangelicals put themselves in the conservative camp, the Third Way group is hoping to tap those who find Christian right rhetoric alienating.
Perkins fired back: "[The report] says that homosexuals deserve the same 'public benefits' (i.e., marriage or civil unions) as others. It also suggests uniting around the goal of reducing abortion by distributing contraception -- even though abortion has skyrocketed in the years since the introduction of the birth control pill. If this is 'common ground,' we'd prefer to stand our own ground in defense of the natural definition of marriage and family and the unalienable right to life of every unborn child. However, we do take comfort in the fact that the 'culture wars' are not shooting wars, and that civil dialogue is possible."
Would that civil dialogue include this piece by FRC's Tom McClusky, which called gay rights "appalling" and maintained that "homosexual activists are looking to destroy religious liberty in the name of sexual licence [sic] -- and they will abuse our system of government in any way possible to make sure it happens"?
3. From the Strange Bedfellows Department
At his Feast of Tabernacles celebration in San Antonio this weekend, Hagee hosted T.D. Jakes, the most popular black preacher in the country. Jakes, whom Barack Obama has called a friend and a role model of a Christian who puts his faith into action, has been hot for endorsing various end-times oriented activities lately, including the Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem. Jakes' sermon to a packed house at Hagee's Cornerstone Church was all about Jesus, even though the Feast of Tabernacles is allegedly about Christians embracing the "Jewish roots" of Christianity by "celebrating" Sukkot. For Hebraic Christians, though, Sukkot marks the time during which Christ will make his second appearance.
Although Jakes is loath to get heavily involved in partisan politics, candidates crave any kind of appearance with or connection to the preacher, televangelist, and best-selling author. He has a huge audience, which has been courted by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove as part of the GOP outreach to African-Americans. (It's the black vote in neo-Pentecostal churches that the GOP is after, since neo-Pentecostals tend to be more conservative.) At the Values Voter Summit, Perkins and Bishop Harry Jackson, himself a neo-Pentecostal, will lead the panel discussion, "The Future of the Conservative Movement in Black and White: Racial Reconciliation in the Church."
Other strange bedfellows this week included country singer Randy Travis and Sen. Joe Lieberman. Hard to fathom? CUFI’s Executive Director, David Brog, wrote in the October issue of the group's magazine, The Torch, that the two CUFI supporters were "separated at birth."
And finally, odd pairings are lining up in both defense of and in opposition to Ann Coulter: David Horowitz, the Jewish crusader against "political correctness" on college campuses, and organizer of the upcoming Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week, defended her anti-Semitic remarks that Jews need to be "perfected." The Christian New Man magazine's Drew Dyck wondered, "did Ann Coulter go too far?" In response to some comments defending Coulter, Dyck added, "Even if all her views were perfectly in line with the gospel, her attitude certainly isn't. Just look at the title of her books: 'How to Talk to a Liberal ... If You Must' or ‘If Democrats Had Any Brains They'd be Republicans.' Answer me honestly -- do those sound like things Jesus would have us say?"
4. "Undivided Jerusalem" Continues to Be Rallying Cry
With next month's U.S.-sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace talks on the horizon -- and possibly on the ropes -- the trashing of diplomacy is taking center stage for Christian Zionists. Jim Hutchens, head of Jerusalem Connection, a former Army chaplain, and a CUFI regional director, called the peace talks the "diplomatic lynching of Israel." Rabbi Scott Sekulow, a Messianic Jew and brother of Jay, called the possible sharing of the holy city "against God's word." On American Family Radio, Hagee labeled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "an appeaser from the top of his head to the bottoms of his feet." And here at home, Gary Bauer's Campaign for Working Families has launched an effort "to identify and expose anti-Israel politicians" and "defeat those who would have us abandon our ally Israel."
5. John Hagee Quotes of the Week
Top sound-bites from Hagee's media appearances promoting his new book, In Defense of Israel, and his ongoing drumbeat for war with Iran, included:
- "I don't believe in global warming."
- "I don't think we'll get past 20 years" before the end times.
- In response to radio host Dennis Miller, who asked whether Hagee would endorse a U.S. assassination of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: "whatever is required is necessary and in the best interests of the United States of America."
- "Giving Jerusalem to the Palestinians would be like giving it to the Taliban."
- And finally, in response to Glenn Beck's question, "What is the single most important rule in life to follow?" Hagee, the self-appointed BFF of the Jews and Israel, responded: "I believe that every person must come to a saving knowledge of the Lord, Jesus Christ, because the Bible and the Lord, Jesus Christ, are the foundations of faith."
Predictions for this weekend's Values Voter Summit: Mitt Romney will still regret governing Sodom, no one will care that Huckabee has a hick name, Rudy Giuliani will not be in drag, John McCain will plunge into a water baptism in the Washington Hilton pool, Fred Thompson still won't kiss Dobson's ring, and Ron Paul will mobilize an army of supporters to skew the straw poll.
Contact me at tapthefundamentalist AT gmail DOT com.