Fundamentalism springs eternal for GOP
The “Guest Voice” in the article below belongs to Jeff Sharlet, who many of you may know is the author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. I’m currently reading the book, so I found this piece especially interesting.
For anyone who’s unfamiliar with Mr. Sharlet or needs a refresher on The Family, here’s an interview he did with Jon Stewart back in 2009, shortly after the book was released.
Back to the article: Sharlet explains how things have changed for the Christian Right since the 1970’s, why economic conservatism is so appealing to them, how a schism might benefit Perry, and—perhaps most importantly—what things haven’t changed. He also brings up the concept of “male headship”, something not only mentioned in the Daily Show interview above, but also in the AlterNet article referenced in one of Charles’ posts yesterday about Michele Bachmann.
I guess it’s time we started familiarizing ourselves with the basics of Christian Right vocabulary & concepts lest we miss something important due to lack of knowledge. Or not. We could always just sit back and mock them, assuming that they’re a bunch of kooks who could never get elected—until one of them does.
On Faith asks “What do the religious controversies surrounding the leading Republican candidates tell us about the state of the social conservative movement? What do social conservatives want in 2012?”
Sharlet: On the one hand, social conservatives, particularly of the Protestant variety, want out of 2012 what they’ve wanted since H.L. Mencken handed them a shellacking at the Scopes “Monkey Trial” in 1925: respectability. Christian conservatives have either dominated American politics or shouted loudest in opposition for three decades, but the movement’s inferiority complex runs deep. Eighteen years after the fact, fundamentalist pundits still cite a description of fundamentalists in The Washington Post as “largely poor, uneducated, and easily led.” That the characterization is snobby — and inaccurate. It’s also old. But as a movement, these religious social conservatives can’t seem to win enough validation - also known as power - to make them feel better. Exhibit A: The sense of wounded grievance fueling Michele Bachmann’s campaign.
On the other hand, things are changing. The Christian Right has consolidated, fractured, rebuilt, refractured, and revived itself many times now since it became an explicit electoral force in the late 1970s. There’s no longer the same sense of now or never. Activists - and many in the rank and file - understand that they’re part of the American scene, and that means there’ll always be a second act. Sarah Palin flames out? Enter: Michelle Bachmann.