The Family Research Council this week is out with a campaign to “Replace, Repeal, Restore.” That is, “replace liberal politicians;” “repeal the government takeover of health care;” and “restore the founding principles of our nation.”
FRC’s president, Tony Perkins, made clear last week at the Freedom Federation Summit in Lynchburg exactly what that “restore” element of his campaign entails: a Christian nation. In his speech, Perkins issued a threat not just to Democrats, but to Republicans as well. “It’s absolutely essential that we send a message to Washington and the rest of the liberal establishment that we are not going anywhere,” a warning, no doubt against a developing theme that the tea party movement has somehow displaced the religious right.
“Once we replace these politicians who ignore the people and the Constitution, then we must repeal this socialistic time bomb and restore constitutional restraints to Washington, D.C., and we should accept nothing less,” Perkins continued.
But then Perkins emphasized that constitutionalism, as he sees it, is not about politics but about religion. Reading from George Washington’s farewell address, in which Washington maintained that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports,” Perkins twisted Washington’s words to suit his own ends, declaring:
We must never be deterred in our defense of these great pillars upon which this Republic is built. We must defend morality, and we must defend morality supported by religion, and not just any religion, but the Christian religion.
So when Perkins talks about the need to “restore founding principles,” he’s playing to two audiences: one is the anti-“Obamacare” crowd, encompassing various wings of the conservative movement, including the religious right, who maintain that the health care reform law is unconstitutional. But he’s also playing to the narrower audience of the religious right — which is validated to the rest of the conservative movement by politicians like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who didn’t attend the Freedom Federation Summit but happily disseminated its talking point that we’re in the midst of a new Great Awakening — which has been convinced that their version of “Christian” morality should dictate public policy.