A ghost in the high ground of Rocky Mountain politics

coorsWhat we have here is another religion ghost story.

The New York Times has a report today on the announcement that Peter H. Coors will seek the Republican nomination the U.S. Senate seat of Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

The remarkable thing about this news story is that reporter Kirk Johnson managed to do a story on Coors, Colorado and politics without mentioning several interesting subjects, such as the Religious Right and beer and, well, the Religious Right and blond twins in tiny bathing suits. Oh, and don’t forget abortion, homosexuality and the tensions between Libertarians and, well, the Religious Right.

Since this is a family friendly religion news site, I will resist several obvious links that I could add as illustrations. Well, you know, like this one. I would imagine that Dr. James Dobson and members of the Focus on the Family research staff in Colorado Springs are familiar with this material. Rock on.

As a CNN report notes, this is rather obvious terrirory. The media have always burdened the Coors family with a kind of holy wing-nut reputation, although the current generation has tried hard to spin this into a less doctrinaire Coors lite image.

Peter Coors — the son of ultraconservative activist Joe Coors, who was once described by his brother as being “to the right of Attila the Hun” — has worked to reposition the family name on the political spectrum.

When he began taking over the family business, its controversial workplace policies had earned it a long list of aggrieved parties — gays, minorities, women. Coors took steps to rebuild those relationships, including hiring Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary as Coors’ liaison to the gay community. …

And though he is a conservative Christian, beer ads that feature him with the barely clad Coors Light Twins could cost him credibility on the family-values front.

It just isn’t like the New York Times to avoid this kind of rocky terrain. Perhaps there is a longer God, beer and politics feature planned as part of the newspaper of record’s expanded “conservative beat.” At the moment, Johnson leaves us with this sketchy and rather boring hint of debates to come:

The elder Mr. Coors emerged in the 1960′s as a spokesman and financial backer of the conservative agenda that politicians like Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Ronald Reagan were creating. He later helped to found the Heritage Foundation in Washington, which has since become a bulwark of conservative research and thought.

It was during that period that that Mr. Coors became a political totem for the left as well, as labor and liberal groups organized a beer boycott that lasted well into the 1980′s.

Protest by what groups? About what issues? And, pray tell, what are the religious and cultural voices on both sides of that bitter dispute saying about the younger Mr. Coors right now? And then there is the question that all Coloradans will be asking: Will any pro-Democrat soft-money group have the nerve to work up a television ad featuring Peter Coors, lots of beer foam and the twins?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • James Freeman

    Terry quotes CNN:

    “When he began taking over the family business, its controversial workplace policies had earned it a long list of aggrieved parties — gays, minorities, women. Coors took steps to rebuild those relationships, including hiring Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary as Coors’ liaison to the gay community. …

    “And though he is a conservative Christian, beer ads that feature him with the barely clad Coors Light Twins could cost him credibility on the family-values front.”

    The fact of Christians compartmentalizing their faith so that it does no real damage to their lives, businesses or political careers is news only when people suggest this might be somehow unacceptable from a faith perspective.

    Then we realize that this potential rising of a Christian Taliban is a grave and imminent threat to the United States’ continued existence as a democratic republic.

    Actually, the real story is what WOULD happen if Christians and Jews, en masse, allowed their alleged religious convictions to profoundly affect their daily lives and, particularly, their business dealings and EVERY aspect of their political activities (apart from the absolutely foundational abortion issue, where that already happens to some extent).

    I submit that all hell would break loose (pun unintentional). I think all hell would break loose across every economic and sociopolitical category to an extent unmatched since the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. Probably much greater.

    It would be, uh, REVOLUTIONARY. And NO ONE wants that . . . excepting God and a few John the Baptist-type “nutballs” within the church.

  • Rong

    I like Mr. Freeman’s point. I’d really like the Catholic Church to make it perfectly clear to it’s members (all of them not just the public figures) what the Church’s doctorinal positions are and what is expected by it’s members. As a member of an Associate Reformed Presbyterian church I had to make a public decleration of my faith, swear to uphold church law and be willing to subject myself to church authority. In other words, if I say I’m Christian but don’t act it, I will be brought before the elders of the church. Worst case I will be asked to leave.

    Other church’s should stop playing politics and start following their doctorinal writings.

  • http://www.isi.org Tom Harmon

    Hey, if St. John the Baptist was a nutball, sounds like we should all be a bit nuttier.


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