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Religious Right Makes Bid for Tea Party Activists

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As the populist influence of the religious right finds itself eclipsed by the vitriol of the Tea Party movement, religious right leaders are courting the Tea Partiers, seeking to introduce their notions of America as a "Godly nation" into the neo-libertarian ideology of the Tea Partiers.

I first saw the seeds of this phenomenon sown on the eve of the 9/11 march on Washington, when religious right co-founder Richard Viguerie offered a free organizing seminar to Tea Party activists. Just weeks later, at the Values Voter Summit hosted by the Family Research Council, Tea Party leaders were featured on the agenda, even as FRC tried to damage-control the newcomers' racist image.

Now, reports Bill Berkowitz at BuzzFlash, Pastor Rick Scarborough, working through his S.T.O.P. Obama Tyranny National Coalition, Tea Partiers are being encouraged to sign a " Mandate to Save America," a 10-point manifesto that begins with a demand to "Acknowledge the centrality of faith in America." In fact, it's not until you get to point no. 4, "Stop judicial tyranny," that one gets to one of the priorities of the more secular Tea Partiers. (Points 2 and 3, respectively, decry abortion and same-sex marriage.)

I first learned of Scarborough in the reporting of  journalist Sarah Posner, author of God's Profits.  On her Religion Dispatches blog, Posner yesterday interviewed Alan Hardage, founder of tvTown Hall, the organization that Webcast a right-wing response to Obama's State of the Union address. In his courtship of the Tea Party crowd, Hardage has no patience for those who embrace a purely secular agenda:

Hardage said today that some people in the tea party movement -- not referring to the political veterans who joined his webcast, who know that an alliance with the religious right has been an essential element of conservative victories for decades -- fear division resulting from bringing issues like gay marriage and abortion into the tea party fold.

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Will Religious Right’s ‘Mandate to Save America’ corral the Tea Party crowd?
Submitted by BuzzFlash on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 8:51am.
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BUZZFLASH COMMENTARY
Religious Right leaders are hoping to fuse its social agenda to the Tea Party’s focus on economic issues

By Bill Berkowitz

In the end, despite the laughs generated by Sarah’s Palin’s hand-o-prompter speech to the National Tea Party Convention in early February, there wasn’t a heck of a lot noteworthy about the event. Prior to the convention Tea Party groups from around the country aired their displeasure with what appeared to be a money-making venture. However, despite the inside-the-Tea-Party-turmoil, the convention did manage to attract some 600 Tea Party supporters from across the country; it received a bevy of mainstream media coverage; and, it had its fair share of outrageous moments – Tom Tancredo’s immigrant-bashing opening remarks being chief among them.

At this point in time, as People for the America Way’s Right Wing Watch pointed out days before the convention, it is clear that “tea party activism has become the driving force of the entire right-wing movement.”

One convention development that might have slipped past the mainstream media’s coverage was a new effort by some longtime Religious Right leaders to hoist them-selves aboard the Tea Party bandwagon. Keep in mind that in recent years, the relationship between religious conservatives and economic conservatives has not always been copasetic.

Back in 2006, before there was a Tea Party movement, Dick Armey, the head of FreedomWorks – a major sponsor of the Tea Party movement – called one of the Religious Right’s most revered figures, Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, and his comrades “nasty bullies”:

“I pray devoutly every day, but being a Christian is no excuse for being stupid. There's a high demagoguery coefficient to issues like prayer in schools. Demagoguery doesn't work unless it's dumb, shallow as water on a plate. These issues are easy for the intellectually lazy and can appeal to a large demographic. These issues become bigger than life, largely because they're easy. There ain't no thinking."

Rick Scarborough, the founder and head of a small, but disproportionately influential, Texas-based outfit called Vision America, has come up with a plan to try and fuse the Religious Right’s “traditional family values” agenda to the economic concerns that have thus far mostly dominated the Tea Party movement.

At a workshop at the National Tea Party Convention given by Scarborough, the senior pastor of Harvest Point Church in Nacogdoches, Texas, unveiled what he’s calling the "Mandate to Save America," a plan that might, as Devin Burghart of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights who attended the convention recently reported, signal “a shift taking place … transforming the focus from bailouts and deficits to the culture war.” (For Burghart’s complete report on the convention see “Revival and Revolt: Inside the Tea Party Nation Convention."

Scarborough is a former Southern Baptist pastor from Pearland, Texas, who in addition to Vision America, also heads up Vision America Action and the Judeo-Christian Council for Constitutional Restoration. According to Burghart, Scarborough told a crowd of 200+supporters at the Tea Party Nation convention that it was time that differences between “fiscal and social conservatives … cease[d].”

“In addition to attacking the Obama administration for its commitment to ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and supporting the inclusion of gays and lesbians into federal hate crimes protections,” Burghart reported that “Scarborough warned that we ‘now have a government of thieves’ and that we are moving towards a ‘collectivist’ society. We have a Godly duty to defend ‘American exceptionalism.’”

Apparently Scarborough’s remarks were intended as a kind of launch-party for his new campaign, called the “Mandate to Save America,” a project of the S.T.O.P. Obama Tyranny National Coalition.

“We, the undersigned, and millions of other American patriots, including many who comprise the growing TEA Party movement, are no less determined than patriots of the past, who fought for our freedom,” a pamphlet Scarborough distributed read. “We will make any sacrifice, endure any hardship, and confront any foe to keep the flame of freedom burning bright; so help us God.”

Signers of the document included much of the old guard of the Religious Right including, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, Gary Bauer of American Values, Janet Folger-Porter of Faith2Action, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, and Richard Viguerie of ConservativeHQ.

The “Mandate to Save America” is a 10 point manifesto:

1: Acknowledge The Centrality Of Faith – We call for the right to publkicly acknowledge God;

2. Protect human life – We call for the protection of human life from conception to natural death;

3. Save Traditional Marriage – We call for marriage to remain the union of a man and a woman and we further call for families and parental rights to be strengthened;

4. Stop Judicial Tyranny – We call for judges to be constrained by the Constitution and laws of the land;

5. Protect The Rights Of Parents to control the education of their children – We call for educational expenditures to follow parental choice;

6. Limit the size of government – We call for honesty in our government, limited to constitutional functions;

7. Protect our economic freedom – We call for a free-market economy, because it rewards hard work, creates jobs and maximizes human potential;

8. Practice fiscal responsibility, lower taxes and reduce spending – We call for lower taxes, less spending, an affordable government and the end of runaway deficits;

9. Focus on national security – We call for a foreign and military policy that protects Americans, maintains our national sovereignty and secures our borders;

10. Secure energy independence – We call for more exploration, development, production and use of all energy resources.

The only thing new about Scarborough and friends’ efforts is that it may be the best organized effort yet at the Religious Right’s attempt to latch onto the nascent Tea Party movement.

In a late-January column in The Philadelphia Bulletin, titled “A 10-Point Plan To Save America,” Herb Denenberg wrote that the “Mandate to Save America” “was not intended to choose sides politically; it was intended to reaffirm the principles of our Founders.” Denenberg’s non-partisan credo was clearly in evidence in another of his columns, this one headlined, “Obama’s Seven Mental Disorders from Pathological Liar to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and More; The Emperor Obama has no Clothes … and also is on the Whacky Side.”

And, if the “Mandate to Save America” doesn’t do the trick, on February 17, on the eve of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., the “Mount Vernon Statement” will be unveiled.

“A Who's Who of the conservative movement's leaders will unveil and sign the Mount Vernon Statement: a document defining the movement's principles, beliefs and values in light of the challenges facing the country and the need for Constitutional Conservatism since the Obama administration came to power," CRC Public Relations said in a press release announcing the document.

And, if the “Mount Vernon Statement” doesn’t do the trick, on April 15, Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks plans to introduce a “Contract from America” (a takeoff on Newt Gingrich’s 1994 “Contract with America”).
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Religious Right's Mandate to Save America
Submitted by MtnWolfGrlq on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 4:33pm.
This is laughable (with the exception of number 10) after the last 30 years of downward economic spiral (the trickle-down theory and supply-side economics) brought to us by republicans with the biggest mess occuring under the bush administration. Every time I hear or read some of this crap, it is my opinion that it is racism, covertly diguised racism. I will say one thing about Obama: he has an incredibly thick skin. Much thicker than Clinton or Carter although the attacks from the right on them weren't nearly as scurrilous.
One of the things that these people don't get is that young people are far more tolerant in their views of gays, gay marriage, immigrants, multiple ethnicity, etc. And this was the group that voted for Obama.
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Can't Kill In God's Name Anymore
Submitted by neoconned on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 1:28pm.
I may be wrong (Rush: of course you're wrong! You're not Right!), but doesn't "We call for the protection of human life from conception to natural death..." mean that these wackjobs would have to refuse to conduct executions, whether judicial or ad hoc by volunteers like the killer of Dr. George Tiller? How then can they justify the infliction of "divine" retribution on their self-defined list of enemies of their God?
Hypocrites!
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Mandate to Save America?
Submitted by HarveyY on Tue, 02/16/2010 - 11:20am.
http://TheHarvView.blogspot.com
I have seen movies with warewolves, mainiacle killers, huge monsters, and those emerging from the grave, but none of those can touch the scary nature of these people.
Republican elected officials are seemingly interested in money and power, not necessarily in that order, but the Religious Right feels the need to foster their beliefs on everyone else and it smacks like they are unfettered by use of discrimination and misinformation.
From their hatred of our President, to the hatred of gays, to their wanting to move the country closer to a theocracy and promote greater division they have learned nothing from their heroes, the Bush duo, who gave us the worst judges and the worst economy since 1929. This embarassment did nothing to change their minds, and like most ideologies, it has blinders on and would not matter if we went down in flames.
http://TheHarvView.blogspot.com

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