Religious Right Makes Bid for Tea Party Activists
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.