Religious Right Starting to Eat its Own

One of the criticisms often leveled at the gay and lesbian rights movement is that we’re often too busy fighting one another to actually get organized enough to fight against our oppressors. Often, it’s a fair cop – and many of us despair over our community’s seeming inability to put aside our own disagreements in favor of a larger goal of unity and equality.

The right-wing has not had that problem as often. They seem to pretty much walk lock-step toward their goals, quashing internal disagreements in favor of keeping their eyes on the prize.

So, it’s kind of refreshing to see the right wing start to eat their own. Case in point: Sex scandals on the Republican high moralizing side of the aisle are becoming increasingly common and the usual playbook of excusing or “forgiving” the transgressor doesn’t seem to be working anymore.

Elijah Friedman, on the American Family Association Web site, takes Republican leaders to task over their recent moral failures, listing ancient transgressions from former Florida Congressman Mark Foley and Senator Larry Craig, along with the more recent sins of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign.

Now back to the man of the hour, at least in regards to political sex scandals, Mark Souder. He certainly rivals John Ensign for biggest hypocrite on this list. Souder joined Ensign in criticizing Larry Craig for his sexual misconduct, becoming one of very few House Republicans to call for Craig’s resignation. And if that’s not enough, Souder had the hutzpah to appear on an interview with his mistress during their affair to preach about abstinence education. It’s almost sickening.

Almost? No, Elijah, it is sickening. As he points out, there are enough hypocrites to go around on both sides of the aisle, but Friedman holds Republicans to a higher standard because “Republicans have, at least in theory, subscribed to a higher moral standard than their Democratic counterparts.” What? How is that so? I have yet to see any Democrats advocating for adultery or messing around with same-sex partners while publicly preaching against gay and lesbian rights. How in the world does Friedman think Republicans are morally superior to Democrats? The answer is because “the GOP has long championed legislating morality.” So, as Friedman’s logic goes – if you stand for legislating morality then you, by definition subscribe to “a higher moral standard” than someone else who believes coercion and force don’t create morality but access to liberty and equality do.

Friedman complains that all these indiscretions do more than harm a political party, “they can ruin a Christian’s witness.” Very true, but most often they reveal that the transgressor wasn’t very much of a Christian in the first place.

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