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.