Senator Charles Grassley

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) would seem like a natural choice to be part of the voting delegation representing his state for the Republican National Convention in Minnesota this September.

But he was denied voting privileges.

This should be a big story.

Joseph Conn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State writes:

You’d think Grassley, who has served in the Senate since 1980, would be a favorite of the Religious Right. Last year, he scored 100 percent on a scorecard put out by Family Research Council Action and Focus on the Family Action, two of the most militant Religious Right groups. Plus, Grassley is a conservative Baptist.

But the Christian conservatives are taking over and they’re not happy with him:

With a majority of nine out of 17 members on the Iowa Republican central committee, religious conservatives made Iowa Christian Alliance President Steve Scheffler chairman of Iowa’s 40-member delegation in a vote immediately after their state party convention July 12.

“The Republican Party of Iowa is moving significantly to the right on social issues,” the just-ousted Iowa Republican National Committee member Steve Roberts told The Washington Times. “It hurts John McCain’s chances to win this state.”

“[The state's Republican party is] pretty well controlled now by the Christian Alliance,” Mr. Roberts said. “If somebody came to me and wanted to be a delegate to the national party convention, I used to say, ‘Talk to the state party chairman or to Grassley.’ Now it’s very simple. You go to the Christian Alliance, and they determine who is a delegate, and you have to do exactly as they say.”

That’s a (now former) Republican leader saying that.

So why are the Christians unhappy with Grassley?

Probably because he’s the senator who initiated the federal investigation of six televangelists for their strange finances.

Some of those targeted televangelists have responded to all his questions and information requests (including Benny Hinn). Others (like Creflo Dollar) are avoiding him at all costs.

Scheffler denies this is the reason for Grassley not being given the voting privilege:

“That had nothing to with it at all,” Mr. Scheffler said Sunday. He said Mr. Grassley and the other members of the Iowa congressional delegation already had national convention floor privileges – meaning they could walk the floor but not vote.

He was asked if Mr. Grassley had been chosen as a delegate, would he also have been expected to be chairman of the Iowa delegation.

“I suppose it’s true. He would have been chairman,” Mr. Scheffler said. “But the most important point is that we wanted grass-roots activists to attend to help get John McCain and Iowa House candidates elected.”

I don’t buy that explanation. If he’s lying (and the investigation does have something to do with his denial), this is a serious problem. Grassley seems to be getting punished because he wants to make sure Christians aren’t being cheated out of their money by scam artists who are (intentionally or not) posing as faith healers and God’s mouthpieces. He should be commended for his investigations, not punished for them.

AU’s Conn adds:

This little incident demonstrates what we’ve said all along: the Religious Right movement is theocratic, it is extreme and, ultimately, it is about political power.


  • Gabriel

    I know that I should take the high road but I can only hope that this is another sign of the conservative feeding frenzy. I want to watch them turn on each other and tear themselves to shreds. I am so tired of the inter-tribal warfar among the rationalist, atheist, skeptic groups. I can only hope that it is someone else’s turn.

  • Gabriel

    Okay, this has nothing to do with the post but I don’t know any other way to contact Hemnant. Sir, have you noticed how weird the ads on your site are? I’ve been clicking on them to support the site and they are really strange.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Gabriel — I don’t control the ads on this site, but they are placed based on the content of the postings. One post may bring weird ads while others may bring in something worth checking out :)

  • Desert Son

    Following on Gabriel’s comment, this suggests to me one of the inherent problems of fanaticism in organizations: eventually the fanatics in power begin to turn on the fanatics with less power as their enemies fade, change, depart.

    Assuming every fundamentalist zealot of whatever philosophy could see all the infidels and other detractors from the One True Way ™ put to death or otherwise disposed of, they would still need to find someone to hate. Eventually that means turning on whoever is left after the purges. Doesn’t matter how long a supporter, and no matter how long a devoted follower of the One True Way ™ you are, eventually it’ll come down to “Not quite enough of a supporter” or “Suspected of wavering in your beliefs” or just simply “Didn’t have the right haircut.”

    The Terror following the French Revolution, The Inquisition’s various incarnations, The Taliban’s dogma, the Night of the Long Knives, the Stalinist Purges, the Cultural Revolution in China. Pick your era, and your ideology. Eventually it’s never quite enough for the people at the top, because the ideology is ultimately founded on having someone to hate. Without someone to hate, the ideology fails, and the people in power fear that the most.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Darryl

    Oh, what a shock–the religious right are a bunch narrow-minded, power-mongering assholes! Who knew?!

    Too bad for them (dumb shits). They don’t like Grassley because he’s not weird; he’s conservative, like McCain, but he’s honest, has a brain, and is willing to work “across the aisle” to get things done. He’s just old-school enough, and moral enough to think that lawbreakers ought to be punished. Ooh, what a crime!

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  • Richard Wade

    “It hurts John McCain’s chances to win this state.”

    Gee. That’s too bad. How disappointing. Tough break.

    YESSS!!!!

  • cipher

    “It hurts John McCain’s chances to win this state.”

    I’m a little obtuse. How does this hurt McCain? Republicans will vote for him because he’ll be the candidate. Fundies will vote for him because the alternative is, for them, unthinkable. So what is he saying – that liberals, Democrats and left-leaning Republicans in Iowa will come out to vote for Obama rather than sit this one out? Great – let’s notify all twelve of them.

  • cipher

    So why are the Christians unhappy with Grassley?

    Probably because he’s the senator who initiated the federal investigation of six televangelists for their strange finances.

    And I love the “wagons in a circle” mentality.

  • stogoe

    So what is he saying – that liberals, Democrats and left-leaning Republicans in Iowa will come out to vote for Obama rather than sit this one out? Great – let’s notify all twelve of them.

    Thanks for ignorantly mocking the ‘rubes’, you dick. Obama is ten points up in Iowa, and has been ahead for months and months.

  • http://blargen.com/blog/ postsimian

    Wow, that last quote in the post really says it all.

  • Ron in Houston

    The only saving grace is that the Republicans and their religious right wing are consuming one another.

    More and more evangelicals will consider voting for Obama. Many have quite a progressive agenda (i.e. helping the poor, providing health care to everyone, etc.).

  • cipher

    Thanks for ignorantly mocking the ‘rubes’, you dick.

    That’s the second time I’ve been called a “dick” on this site. I’m beginning to think it’s me!

  • Ron in Houston

    Cipher

    I don’t think your comments rise to the level of “dickyness.” I actually found that last sentence rather amusing.

    Besides, it’s the internet. Someone, somewhere is going to believe that you’re a dick.

  • cipher

    I don’t think your comments rise to the level of “dickyness.” I actually found that last sentence rather amusing.

    Thanks, Ron!

  • Polly

    That’s the second time I’ve been called a “dick” on this site. I’m beginning to think it’s me!

    LOL!

    I’ve been on other forums that were so much less “friendly” that practically every declarative statement was casually terminated with an epithet directed at the other partaker(s) in the discussion. No one even thought twice about it.

  • Scotty B

    Despite being a “godless liberal” I have always voted for Charles Grassley and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. In fact, I just finished writing to him to support him in his investigation of the “prosperity gospel” televangelists.

  • stogoe

    I’ve always seen Iowa as part of the Upper Midwest, more kin to Minnesota and Wisconsin and Illinoise than Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. So when someone lumps my beloved Iowa in with places with constitutional bigotry amendments and creationist school boards, it irks me. I mean, we’ve actually had same-sex marriage licenses issued in our state. Have you, Illinois? Have you, Minnesota? Have you?

  • cipher

    Well, Stogoe, you know how it is with us Easterners. We figure that once you get past the Hudson River, it’s pretty much all the same to the Pacific!

  • Darryl

    Hey, I’ve had my dick-ish moments, I admit it, and I won’t promise that there won’t be others. But, at least I know I can be a dick: with knowledge there is power.

  • David D.G.

    Robert wrote:

    Doesn’t matter how long a supporter, and no matter how long a devoted follower of the One True Way ™ you are, eventually it’ll come down to “Not quite enough of a supporter” or “Suspected of wavering in your beliefs” or just simply “Didn’t have the right haircut.”

    I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but this has been LITERALLY true! When Roman Christianity first competed with Irish Christianity in the 7th(?) century for which would become the standard practice in England, one of the things the Roman contingent thought was just unacceptably barbaric was the type of tonsure worn by the Irish monks (shaving off all hair from the midpoint of the head forward), as opposed to the type of tonsure worn by the Roman monks (shaving off a circular patch of hair at the crown of the head). The Irish practice for dating Easter was the biggest issue, but the tonsure was pretty high up there as well.

    ~David D.G.

  • cubiclegrrl

    [Personal aside: Stogoe? The one who used to hang with the RSR crowd? If so, happy to see you again! Small Internet, hey? ;-)]

    On-topic: Sadly, I don’t think we’ve seen quite the last of it yet. And the small-government conservatives will have Mordor’s own time gathering the funding and clout to form a viable political force when the Robber Barons bankrolling the GOP think that all they have to do is push the right buttons (Same-sex marriage, immigration, Muslims, abortion, blahblahblah) to get their base to ignore how they are being blatantly screwed.

    I’d really rather see the “traditional” (read: pre-Reaganite) conservatives have a voice. One one hand, I’d dearly like to see a viable third party. But I don’t think that a Libertarian alliance as the answer for disaffected conservatives or brassed-off liberals.

    But despite what I want, *something* has to put a stake through the heart through the perversion that the GOP has become. The interests of mega-corporations and mega-churches are most definitely *not* aligned with the interests of America. Whether or not America realizes that just yet is another question. The biggest hurdle is getting a slice–even a small one–of the 49% who wrote these so-called “leaders” a blank check in 2004 to admit their error. People are never so intractable–or dangerous–as when they know that they’re in the wrong.

    But my gut sense is that the zeitgeist is sobering up. It’s one thing to wake up in a Vegas hotel room, and quite another to have your kid find you passed out on the back porch. Time to grow up, peeps. The days of following a swaggering frat boy around and pretending to laugh at his tacky jokes are long over. You still think you’re a world power? Then start acting like it. For starters, let’s stop letting folks who think they talk to some bearded dude in the sky call any shots whatsoever.

  • Darryl

    Things will have to get a lot worse before most Americans get real. Sad but true.


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