Throwing god Downfield to Win Votes
Republicans are throwing god downfield in an electoral hailmary. Christian voters have been increasingly targeted by Republicans over the past month. A robocall paid for by the Romney campaign aims at Christian voters greets them: “Christians who are thinking about voting for Obama should remember what he said about people of faith: “They … cling to guns or religion.” And remember when Obama forced Christian organizations to provide insurance coverage that was contrary to their religious beliefs?”
According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey Romney already enjoys a significant lead among white evangelical Protestant voters- 76 percent to 17 percent for Obama and 54 percent to 39 percent among Protestant voters. Regardless a number of more fundamentalist evangelicals “will not vote for someone who doesn’t adhere to orthodox Christianity.” Winning these votes will give Romney a boost especially in battleground states.
In recent weeks the Romney campaign has re-introduced issues that resonate with the most socially conservative voters. Opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage have resurfaced as topics as Romney and Paul Ryan have stumped across the nation. Referring to the clause in the Affordable Health Care Act that requires employers to cover the cost of contraceptives and abortions in their health insurance policies Ryan warned Catholic voters that Obama is a threat to “those Judeo-Christian, Western civilization values” and “religious freedom”.
That Republicans are beefing up religious rhetoric to woo voters after the two minute warning is not surprising. Throughout the debates Romney tried to out-Christian Obama every chance he got. “We are all god’s children” he said during the first televised debate and later “we must maintain our commitments to religious freedom.” These calculated confessions of faith reflect the Republican party’s efforts to claim god as their own in this election. With 78 percent of American voters identifying themselves as Christian it’s no wonder Romney has sought to win the souls of America’s largest constituency.
Last month Billy Graham the reactionary founder of the Evangelical Association endorsed Romney for president:
“It was a privilege to pray with Governor Romney—for his family and our country. I will turn 94 the day after the upcoming election, and I believe America is at a crossroads. I hope millions of Americans will join me in praying for our nation and to vote for candidates who will support the biblical definition of marriage, protect the sanctity of life and defend our religious freedoms.”
Hours before Graham’s public endorsement Mormonism was listed as a “cult” on the Evangelical Association’s website. Graham’s endorsement amounts to a last ditch effort to get fundamentalist evangelicals out to vote Romney.
Glenn Beck, the influential charlatan masquerading as conservative pundit has become Romney’s Mormon in crime. Beck has been using his clout with evangelical voters to shore up support for the Mormon candidate among even the most circumpspect evangelicals. In September Beck hosted a one hour special aiming to debunk misperceptions about Mormonism. “Its not wierd to be a Mormon,” Beck assured his audience.
The reticence about Romney’s religious convictions during his campaign stands in odd contrast to the Republican party’s reflexive use of religion to consolidate its base. Romney has successfully outsourced garnering the Christian vote by delegating that role to a network of influential multidenominational Christians. What’s more impressive is how Romney has pulled this off without drawing much attention to the fact that he belongs to a church that believes one must pay a “full and honest tithe” before entering heaven” and that Jesus Christ visited the Americas after his resurrection. That one must pay to enter “spirit paradise” is about the only consistent belief Romney espouses. Paul Ryan, Tony Perkins (he’s finally “comfortable” with Romney) Billy Grahm and Glenn Beck are just a few of the religious right heavy weights who have bolstered support for Romney among Christain voters and in recent weeks all of their voices have poured out into the sound-bite cyclone. All of their proclamations about “family values”, “sanctity of life” and “religious freedom” are fragments of a much broader dialogue about what American society should look like.
Rising above the din of religious slogans is a conversation about restoring the role of god in the lives of Americans. The god invoked throughout this election is apparently one who intends for horrific acts of rape to occur, for homosexual lovers to be kept apart, for creationism to be taught in biology classes at public schools across the country and again for all you ladies out there, the perfunctory transvaginal probing every time you confer with your doctor about having an abortion. On Tuesday America will head to the polls to cast their ballots. Whether or not that ballot will be cast for the president or for the next preacher-in-chief is a good question. Tuesday’s outcome might show us something more than America’s religious freedom. It may instead show us that we are not free from religion.
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