Religious right splits: Hucksters say double down; true believers want to try something new

Religious right splits: Hucksters say double down; true believers want to try something new November 14, 2012

The religious right — with the support of a huge majority of white evangelicals across America — got hammered on Election Day.

It was, as Southern Baptist leader Al Mohler said, “an evangelical disaster.” In ballot measures in four states, the religious right vigorously opposed marriage equality. It lost all four. The president whose re-election the religious right opposed won a second term with a solid majority of the popular vote and an electoral landslide. Many of the most vocal supporters of the religious right’s agenda lost congressional elections. And across the country, polls and ballots both confirmed that the central issues for the religious right — criminalizing abortion and restricting LGBT rights — weren’t just on the losing side, but were important causes of that loss.

NPR’s Barbara Bradley Hagerty summarizes the scope and scale of the religious right’s defeat:

Mohler says white evangelicals moved in lockstep: Seventy-nine percent voted for Republican Mitt Romney, the same percentage as voted for President George W. Bush in 2004. He says they boldly telegraphed their concerns about Obama, and “our message was rejected by millions of Americans who went to the polls and voted according to a contrary worldview.”

“I think the messaging was working,” said Frank Schubert of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, “we just didn’t have enough of it.” (AP file photo by Diane Bondareff)

Mohler says there’s a danger that evangelicals won’t see this larger lesson — that they will say Obama won because of his unique story and personality.

“No, it was far more than that,” he says. “Four states dealt with the issue of same-sex marriage and after 31 to 33 straight victories, we’ve been handed a rather comprehensive set of defeats on the issue of the integrity of marriage.”

That, and the legalization of marijuana in some states, are examples of what Mohler calls “a seismic moral shift in the culture.”

Others say 2012 revealed another shift.

“The understanding that the evangelical vote is a kingmaking vote, I think, is now dead,” says Shaun Casey, a professor at Wesley Theological Seminary and a former Obama adviser. He says evangelicals pulled out all the stops to unseat the president.

“Billy Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association bought full-page ads in newspapers; that made no difference,” he says. “Ralph Reed spent tens of millions of dollars getting out the vote in battleground states; that didn’t make the difference. And you add all of that up, and it was not enough because of the changing demographics of our country.”

How, then, should the religious right respond to this “comprehensive set of defeats” and the “seismic moral shift” it signifies?

Broadly speaking, the hucksters of the religious right are advocating one response while the true believers of the religious right are advocating another.

The hucksters are urging their followers, supporters and partisan patrons to double down on all the same things they’ve been doing all along. They want the same stances, same agenda, same strategies, same tone — but a different result. That different result, they say, will come from doing all the very same things even harder. There’s no evidence that would work, but the hucksters don’t measure success by political outcomes. They measure success by fundraising outcomes — and an Obama win was probably more potentially lucrative for them than a Romney win would have been.

The true believers, on the other hand, seem to realize that more of the same approach won’t produce the societal changes they had hoped for. They’ve begun re-evaluating their political tactics, agenda and tone, considering if there might not be a better, more effective way of advancing the values they care about.

Every response to the election that I’ve seen falls into one of those two categories: Double down vs. something new. We’ll look at more specific examples in future posts, and we’ll examine some of the options being discussed as the “something new” toward which some on the religious right are stumbling.

Here’s a hint of that direction from Jim Daly of Focus on the Family. Daly is an intriguing fellow — a true believer who has taken the helm of a huge operation created by a huckster. Mitchell Landsberg of the Los Angeles Times reports that Daly has taken on a “conciliatory tone after election”:

Daly threw the considerable resources of his organization — which fiercely opposes abortion and same-sex marriage — behind the campaign to defeat President Obama, paying for millions of mailers that listed the presidential candidates’ positions on issues that were important to “values voters.”

In the aftermath of the election, however, Daly is willing to say things that few conservative evangelical leaders are likely to say. He believes, for instance, that the Christian right lost the fight against same-sex marriage in four states in part because it is on the losing side of a cultural paradigm. He says the evangelical community should have been considering immigration reform years ago, “but we were led more by political-think than church-think.”

And, along the same lines, he argues that evangelicals have made a mistake by marching in lock step with the Republican Party.

“If the Christian message has been too wrapped around the axle of the Republican Party, then a) that’s our fault, and b) we’ve got to rethink that.”

For a classic example of the “double down” approach preferred by the hucksters, see the conclusion of Erik Eckholm’s New York Times article, “Push Expands for Legalizing Same-Sex Marriage“:

Frank Schubert, a consultant to the National Organization for Marriage who managed all four state campaigns to block same-sex marriage, said, “I think the messaging was working; we just didn’t have enough of it.” He said he expected to continue running advertisements warning that “changing the definition of marriage” would have negative effects on society.

But Zach Silk, the campaign manager of Washington United for Marriage, an advocate for same-sex marriage rights, argued that what he called “scare tactics” had fallen flat this time, and he predicted they would probably fail again. “The fear and confusion they used to win in other places, it’s an old playbook and it doesn’t work any more.”

It’s fascinating to see people like Mohler and Daly essentially agreeing with Zach Silk that the “old playbook” the religious right has relied on for decades just “doesn’t work any more.”

But I’m also seeing far more people agreeing with NOM’s Schubert, insisting that the fear and confusion Silk describes — what Schubert calls “the messaging” — is still working for the religious right, but they just have to do more of it.

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  • Jim Roberts

    I currently attend a church where this is happening in a microcosm, almost literally split down the aisle betwen people who think we’re now doomed to be married off to gay people, and people who think that the people have spoken but don’t much care for what they had to say.

    And me.

  • DCFem

    Part of their problem is that they’re still relying on mailers in 2012. Not only do they need to reexamine their messaging issues, they need to reexamine their messaging methods and join the 21st century.

    I think guys like Daly have faced massive layoffs at their organizations and are just tired of wasting money. Their hatred of gay people hasn’t abated at all, it’s the diminishing returns that have really gotten them depressed. It is hard to persuade people to keep sending in money when the writing is on the wall. Daly, etc. will triple down on abortion instead. That’s always a winner for these guys.

  • He said he expected to continue running advertisements warning that “changing the definition of marriage” would have negative effects on society.

    The obvious flaw with this approach is that by their terms that horse has already bolted – as flawed as the argument is, it has almost infinitely more potential than “You have changed the definition of marriage! Watch as the negative effects on society begin… NOW!… NOW!”

  • Dantesque17

    “That different result, they say, will come from doing all the very same things even harder.”

    I’ve heard that’s the definition of “insanity”. 

  • MikeJ

    We did our part in Washington.  They said gay people should be stoned, so we legalized pot along with gay marriage. 

  • LL

    Yes, like I mentioned in the other thread (the one about Rachel Held Evans’ book), some people believe there’s nothing wrong with the Republican message, they just think it wasn’t sold well enough. Or enough times. Or something. 

    They act as if (and I’ve read this already many times and heard it a few times from plenty of not-evangelical Republicans) the rest of us didn’t hear all that shit they said. About how gays are bad. Women who get abortions are bad. Women who use birth control are bad. Rape isn’t all bad, if it results in a baby, so just suck it up and have the baby so complete strangers can feel like all is right with the world. Non-white people are lazy and only want stuff from the government. Everybody who doesn’t pay income tax pays no taxes at all and is lazy. If you’re not Christian, you’re wrong and probably hate America. Obama is a socialist. Government employees are overpaid and don’t do anything anyway and are unnecessary, everything should be privatized and run by corporations, who never make bad decisions. Every business owner is a job creator and everybody else should be grateful that the job creators deign to employ us, because without them, we’d be nothing. It’s intrusive of the government to be involved in healthcare, unless of course the healthcare includes shoving an ultrasound wand into a woman’s private parts when she seeks to get an abortion, because once there’s a fetus in there, it doesn’t belong to her anymore, it belongs to the state. Unions bankrupted the country, not the financial industry. And Mitt Romney is a great businessman because he’s rich, that’s really the only qualification he needs. What we really need for America is a CEO, because CEOs have never steered us wrong. Greed is good. Helping people is wrong. We heard all that shit, over and over again. We recognize it as the steaming pile it is. You don’t need to keep selling it. You’ve sold it just fine to the idiots who voted for you. The rest of us aren’t buying it. 

  • But I’m also seeing far more people agreeing with NOM’s Schubert, insisting that the fear and confusion Silk describes — what Schubert calls “the messaging” — is still working for the religious right, but they just have to do more of it.

    I get the impression that they have passed “peak fear” on this subject.  Fear-mongering stops working when the threat you warn against fails to come to pass, it becomes clear that you are just “crying wolf” about the issue.  Sure, some will double-up due to cognitive dissonance, but a lot more will just shrug it off and stop listening.  

    How can you make gay marriage even more scary than the fear tactics they have been using now without going well past the point of absurdity?  (I mean, even more so.)  

  • I am confused by this:

    “He says the evangelical community should have been considering
    immigration reform years ago, ‘but we were led more by political-think
    than church-think.'”

    Because…isn’t he TALKING about politics?  & how they need to be…politically agile?  I guess I’m just confused on whether the horse is pulling the cart or vice-versa.  Immigration is a political issue…that they should be more soul searching about as churches…to achieve greater political grasp?


  • “The fear and confusion they used to win in other places, it’s an old playbook and it doesn’t work any more.”

    That phrase is close to accurate, but the more technically accurate term would be FUD. That’s the game for the hucksters now.  It’s been the game for a while, actually, but the more losses they run up, the longer we get to see the (lack of) terrible consequences for defying them, the less effective the tactic becomes. 

    The True Believers recognize that FUD isn’t working, so they’re looking to (in the sales parlance) re-brand themselves. They recognize the brand as-is isn’t working, and are looking for areas to branch out into; outright reversing positions is the hardest choice, so if they can pick an area without a strong history of support or opposition (like immigration) then it’s an easier transition.

    Hucksters aren’t opposed to re-branding, but grifters gotta grift, right? So any attempt at re-branding will be met with resistance if it moves the brand away from lucrative markets. Prosperity gospel is very lucrative, and moving the church away from that will be a fight. Convince the grifters that there’s money to be made in being pro-immigration, though, and they’ll move over faster than you can say “what’s newer than the Happy Meal?”

  • Carstonio

    Mohler’s phrases  “contrary worldview” and “seismic moral shift” are vague, and I automatically suspect these of being euphemisms. Notice how he doesn’t explain how same-sex marriage harms the “integrity of marriage.”

    From the other side, Casey seems to imply the same thing Fred has said – evangelism has become about preserving privilege based on personal characteristics. Those are the values that people like Mohler really care about. Very likely, the divide between doubling down versus changing tactics exists because these folks cannot state their agenda in public the same way they can in private. They’re finding it harder to pretend to outsiders that their goal isn’t maintaining privilege. If the “something new” means giving up that goal, then they would no longer be the religious right, but something far different.

  • AnonaMiss

    From the NY Times link:

    “should instead endorse the principles of federalism and let the states decide the matter.”

  • reynard61

    “Frank Schubert, a consultant to the National Organization for Marriage who managed all four (losing) state campaigns to block same-sex marriage, said, ‘I think the messaging was working; we just didn’t have enough of it.’ He said he expected to continue running advertisements warning that “changing the definition of marriage” would have negative effects on society.”

    Really?! *REALLY???* You *actually* think that chopping down *more* trees and turning them into *more* flyers to stuff into people’s mailboxes, or sending them *more* robo-calls, or demanding that *more* pastors risk their church’s tax-exemptions, etc. will actually change the minds of those who are apparently seeing that abortion and same-sex marriage aren’t necessarily the apocalyptic subjects that you’ve made them out to be these last 30+ years? You really think that, somehow, *“MORE, MORE, MORE!!!”* is going to get you what you want rather than a *rational* “This is why we believe that abortion and same-sex marriage are wrong/bad/immoral” message?


  • Lliira

    As long as their core values are misogyny, homophobia, and racism, the only possible tool the religious right has is to lie, lie, and lie some more. Their core values are entirely based on lies. How the heck are you supposed to support core values that are lies without a campaign of lies?

  • MaryKaye

    It seems to me that the same pattern is happening among people who are not particularly religious, but are right-wing for other reasons.  The election went badly:  now some are saying “we need to be further right, to energize the base” and some are saying “we did something wrong, we need to change our tactics–in particular we can’t keep losing Hispanics like this or we’ll never win again.”

    We saw the “further right” strategy in Washington State some years ago.  Ellen Craswell ran a very creditable right-wing campaign for governor in ’96.  Despite doing a lot of things right–even people like myself who disagreed with her ended up having some respect for her–she got about 42% of the vote.  It seemed to me then, and it seems now, that you couldn’t get more than that as a clear right-wing candidate in WA, no matter how good you were.  Recent governorships have been *very* close but they have always involved centrist Republicans; the state party remembers what happened with Craswell (who said during the primary that she could energize the base, and she could–but the base isn’t big enough).

    It’s probably nasty of me, but I am hoping for the “more of the same” strategy to win out, as it’s not likely to start working, and it should eventually hurt the Republican party so much that it collapses and we can get a new opposition party.  If I were a rightist political organizer, I’d be starting about now to work on developing a new party with an economic-conservative, small-government, socially non-interventionist platform–call it “reality-based conservativism” as a working name…. I think you could win elections on that platform in red states, maybe in purple ones too.  You might get the governorship of WA with a platform like that.  Get some state legislative and gubernatorial offices and you could start working up to the nationals.

  • patter

    Whiny Glen Bolger (Public Opinion Strategies): “It just ain’t fair, there’s more of Them than Us”

    3.  Saving the worst for last is that there are too many

    To me, the biggest surprise, and concern, is
    that Democrats were 38% of the electorate, while Republicans were just 32%.

  • Honestly, I feel like that’s a reasonable compromise. I don’t understand what else they could ask for. 

  • Morilore

    Mohler at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says evangelicals now need to approach politics in a fundamentally different way. They need to bend a little on issues of lesser importance — for example, supporting candidates who have different ideas about the role of government — but who agree with them on marriage and life issues. And most important, Mohler says, evangelicals need to reach beyond their suburban walls.
    “If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community,” he says. “And that cannot, that cannot, serve the cause of Christ.”,

    Isn’t Mohler kind of contradicting himself here?  He said that sexuality- and gender-related social conservatism itself was rejected, but now he’s saying that no, it’s the economic conservatism and the racism that was rejected.

  • Tricksterson

    Seriously, do they really think there’s a plot to dissolve their marriages?  How is this supposed to happen?

  • Tricksterson

    Or at least abject stupidity.

  • How is this supposed to happen?

    I suspect in the same manner that the Antichrist will dissolve all nations, replace all currencies, and unite all religions.

  • Tricksterson

    I know it’s silly of me but just once I would like one of the people who sees the death of heterosexual marriage in the allowing of same-sex-marriage explain the mechanics.  And, if they themselves are mmarried how it will endanger their marriage.

  • Well, you see, what happens is the Antichrist goes to each and every town and city offices across the US and recites country names alphabetically in various languages at the clerks until they give in and void all the marriage certificates.

    What, you say the Antichrist isn’t around to do this? Of course he is! Marriage equality is a sign of the end times, along with the Horsemen and the moon turning red as blood and low-fat yogurt mixing on shelves with regular, wholesome, God-fearing dairy products…

  • Anton_Mates

    William Bennett’s providing a great example of doubling down over at CNN. 

    “The Democrats have successfully convinced women, single people, young people, blacks, Latinos, and poor people that we hate them!  Clearly, we can only reverse this by telling them about the Republican platform even more loudly and continuously than before!”

    My favorite bit is, “They have successfully set the parameters and focus of the national and political dialogue as predominantly about gender, race, ethnicity, and class….How else can we explain that more young people now favor socialism to capitalism?”

    How else indeed.  It’s a real conundrum, that one.

  • vsm

    It’s bad enough how Satan constantly tempts godly Christian men to do coke off male prostitutes buttocks, but at least you can cover that up with a bit of luck. You can’t imagine how terrible it is in states where he can make them marry random guys off the street during moments of weakness.

  • LL

    It is amusing (and kinda sad) how few of them are answering their questions with, “Maybe we should change how we think.”

    Instead of, “Everybody who voted against us is wrong” and “We just need to sell it better.” 

    They are REALLY invested in the anti-gay, anti-abortion stuff. And as long as that’s the case, I think they’re going to continue to be puzzled by everybody else’s lack of interest in letting a few people restrict everybody else’s rights. Because nobody who isn’t a homophobe is going to agree with their positions on homosexuality. There’s really no compromise possible there. Nobody who has gay family/friends they care about is going to say, “Alright, Republicans, I can’t agree with you that gays should be imprisoned and prosecuted for their crimes, but sure, I’ll help you make sure they can’t get married to their same-sex partners.” As the homophobes point out, you don’t compromise with evil. If you believe that gay people are people just like everyone else, that they are entitled to the same rights and privileges, you don’t vote to restrict their rights. And if you do vote to restrict their rights, you’re voting in favor of tyranny. 

    And few people (who actually give a damn about it) are going to agree with them about abortion. Abortion is one of those things people hope they never have to deal with, but when they do, they’re damn glad it’s legal. As various Republican politicians have proven. They only yap about abortion because the hardcore anti-abortion crowd demands it. But support for making it illegal altogether is not there. That’s why they have to do underhanded shit like waiting periods and attempted defunding of Planned Parenthood, like Perry and his cronies are doing in Texas. 

  • Jared Bascomb

    Bolger also makes a very big mistake when he relies on exit polls to show that young voters turned out in greater numbers than older voters. My 89-year-old mother (a Democrat) votes by mail and I’ll bet that a lot of other older voters do so as well simply because actually going to the polls and voting in person can be difficult or impossible for them.
    Not that I’m agreeing with him; on the contrary, I think his ignoring this basic piece of context indicates how bad a pollster/analyst he is.

  • I know it’s silly of me but just once I would like one of the people who sees the death of heterosexual marriage in the allowing of same-sex-marriage explain the mechanics.  And, if they themselves are mmarried how it will endanger theirmarriage.

    Ooh, ooh! I’ll try!

    I don’t know if you remember the 80’s (I barely do) but back then, it wasn’t easy to get a credit card. Like, actually not easy. So having a credit card was a sign of fiscal responsibility. And if you were really, really responsible, then you just might qualify for a “Gold Card”; “gold” credit cards were only available to special folks, so having one made you special, and using it told others you were special. 

    Then came the 90’s, and anyone who could fog a mirror could get a credit card. Everyone was giving out credit cards: Spiegel, Eddie Bauer, Sears… getting a “gold” card wasn’t that difficult. People who shopped at Target were paying with “gold” cards and “platinum” cards.* Having the card no longer meant anything; it wasn’t a signifier of anything, it was just a means for payment, no different from a check or cash. 

    Now take marriage. When you go out in public, and someone notices your wedding band, that says something about you, doesn’t it? It means something, it communicates something about who you are.* To grant that privilege to others is to dilute, to diminish what it means to all those who had the privilege before! What was once a sacred bond ordained by God, a divine gift, is now just… paperwork.  

    *As a long-time gamer, I was always thought it was a missed marketing opportunity not to offer a Lord of the Rings “Mithril” card or a D&D “Adamantine” card. 

  • Jared Bascomb

    Does anybody else see this as a slo-mo replay of the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal, at least in terms of tactics and responses from the right?
    First, they’re shocked – shocked! – and when the rest of the country pretty much yawns, they double down on the dirty details, over and over and over, trying to get the rest of the country to be as shocked – shocked! – as they are. The result was that the general populace (even those who were titillated) said: We don’t care; we don’t want to hear more; do NOT impeach him. And Clinton’s popularity went UP through it all.
    Yes, they besmirched his reputation by making him only the second President to be impeached, but he’s still immensely popular (where was W this election cycle?) and respected. They won the battle (sort of) but lost the war and wrote lots of screeds about how immoral the American electorate is.
    Now they’re using the same techniques on same-sex marriage and are seeing that the outrage they’d initially enjoyed turned into yawns and is now becoming support for the other side. And again, they’re not listening.
    Back to the Clintonian allusion: Last Tuesday was the rough equivalent of the push for impeachment (four states with anti-marriage ballot initiatives) and the populace saying “No”. And if they keep pushing forward, against the stated will of the people and ignoring how badly it *really* turned out for them in the Clinton impeachment, the results will be the same.

  • The_L1985

    Hey, now, you leave my delicious yogurt out of this.

  • P J Evans

     Why would anyone pay attention to him?

  • Mary Kaye

    Tricksterson writes: 

    know it’s silly of me but just once I would like one of the people who
    sees the death of heterosexual marriage in the allowing of
    same-sex-marriage explain the mechanics.  And, if they themselves are married how it will endanger their marriage.

    May I try?

    (Note:  this is not a view I hold or condone, I just think it’s plausible.  I also don’t think that most people who hold it could easily articulate it.)

    “My idea of marriage is founded on complementarianism:  on the idea that men and women are incomplete alone, and fit together in a prescribed way to make a greater whole.  If either partner abdicates their appointed role, the marriage will inevitably fall apart.  The institution of marriage is already under deadly attack by feminism, which persuades women to reject their marriage roles, and thus destroys their marriages.  This is demonstrated by rising divorce rates.

    “Gay marriage is a threat in exactly the same way.  Two men or two women marrying is a clear attempt to deny that there are complementary male and female roles which interlock to form a sound and happy marriage.  The existence of married gay people will mislead other individuals into thinking that they can have the good results of marriage without committing to their gender-based roles, and this will lead to further divorce and unhappiness.  And, of course, it will not lead to happy marriages among gay people, because that is fundamentally impossible.  Encouraging gay marriage therefore does gays no good, and hurts everyone else.

    “My own marriage is threatened because my spouse might be persuaded that s/he doesn’t have to fulfill her/his marriage role.  This would undermine the structure of our marriage and cause it to fail.”  (Logically speaking, it could also persuade the speaker.  But I suspect almost no one thinks of it that way.)

    I think there are a bunch of untruths in there, but it’s at least a reasonably logical position.  I think the last paragraph may be *true* in some cases:  gay marriage really may wreck some straight marriages, just as feminism really has wrecked some marriages.  I’d differ from my hypothetical complementarian on whether those marriages were worth saving, but I can’t deny that rebellion against one’s ordained role really is the cause of some divorces.

    The two big counterfactuals which we can hope to demonstrate to people:  non-complementarian happy marriages don’t exist; gay happy marriages don’t exist.  WA and the others took a big step toward demonstrating the latter this month, yay! 

    (I’ve been married for 21 years this Thanksgiving.  Our division of labor is incredibly idiosyncratic, but it works.  Trouble is, I live in a district so liberal that this doesn’t surprise anyone very much.)


  • Carstonio

    I wouldn’t object to a party that served as a brake to the Democrats’ accelerator, one that advocated prudence instead of obstructionism. My problem with small government and and fiscal conservatism is that these are defined almost exclusively in market terms. Unregulated free markets inevitably result in wealth concentrating in fewer hands, with this leading to oligarchy since the tiny wealthy elite essentially buys the government. A major role of government is ensuring equality of opportunity.

  • Loquat

    I have a couple interpretations of the immigration comment; either he thinks they should have been thinking more about long-term relations with Hispanics than about the short-term electoral strategies of the Republican party, or he thinks they should have genuinely tried to hammer out a position on immigration based on Christ’s teachings rather than tying themselves to the short-term electoral strategies of the Republican party. Or maybe a combination of the two. They’re both plausible to me.

  • Albanaeon

     Because God will grab out TurboJesus and smite all the men, and women, and children, and orangutans, and hippopotamuses, and wallabies, and kumquats, and bacteria and so forth in a temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums (literally), and even though they’ll all be gloating in RTC heaven, there certainly won’t be much marriage because we’ll be too busy dodging nukes and fireballs and locusts and demon-locusts and GIRATs to get around to performing that ultimately sanctified act ordained by a god now trying to murder us all.

    So there.

  • Many of the anti-gay evangelicals appear to have the opinion that gay sex is so fantastic that any heterosexual man given the Gay Alternative will immediately abandon his wife and family and go marry a dude.

    I can kind of understand. Many of them are ripped, have great hair, dress well… I kind of think they’re way out of most straight guy’s league. 

  • P J Evans

     The ones I know don’t fit that stereotype. Unfortunately.

  • There are a lot of people on the homophobic side who believe, when you get down to it,  that sexual orientation is ultimately a *preference*, not an immutable law of someone’s character. And therefore, it is only the stigma against homosexuality that prevents loads and loads of people from pursuing same-sex relationships *even though on the basis of sexual attraction alone, this would not be their first choice* because of other various benefits like not having to put the toilet seat down.  Many of them, while not actually homosexuals-in-denial have had the exact same “random minor same-sex crush” that lots of perfectly straight people have at some point in their life, and, based on an upbringing that characterizes the whole thing as a monumental struggle with the horned man-goat, think that their failure to act on it constitutes them making a positive choice “to be straight” and assume that people with other orientations came about from similar circumstances.

    From this mindset, many of them can very easily believe that it;s only the substantial social pressure against it that stops their wives from abandoning them to run off with another woman. After all, why in the world would a woman want anything to do with a homophobic, gender essentialist jackass?

    (This is the long version of the reason my mother once gave me. Namely, that “But then women would just all marry each other so they could have the socioeconomic benefits of marriage but not be required to ever have sex”)

    (My mother’s other excuses, and really I think my mother is just being contrary about this, are “But the gays have only been protesting for their rights for fifty years! Women had to do it for a hundred years! And blacks had to do it for two hundred! And why should they be allowed to marry when I can’t smoke in restaurants?”)

  • Tricksterson

    If the Horsemen realy want to impress they should switch to SUVs.   Muchmore evil.

  • Tricksterson

    To me “paperwork” at least as iit applies to legal marriage as opposed to a marriage ceremony is exactly what it shuld e so color me not scared.

  • Tricksterson

    Yeesh, is my mother the only 70+ straight person who has no problem with SSM?

  • Hucksters gonna’ huck.  

  • Robyrt

    Not really. If you actually aren’t doing enough of it in the first place, it’s reasonable to double down and expect better results. Of course, it’s not like Focus on the Family has trouble getting its message out to the broader culture, so “we need more expensive messaging” is something only the hucksters who sell messaging are saying.

  • Daughter

     Nope. My 80-year-old mom thought that QUILTBAG people were disgusting until my cousin came out in the late ’80s. That was all it took to change her mind.  A few weeks ago she was ranting about people planning to vote against the President because of his support for marriage equality. “Do they think he’s just the president of straight people? No! He’s the president of all people!” (And btw, my cousin’s parents are OK with it too, and adore my cousin’s husband).

    When marriage equality was signed into law last spring in WA state, a 75-year-old woman at my church, married for the second time now after having been widowed for about a decade, exclaimed, “I think that’s just wonderful! It’s always wonderful when people who love each other can get married!”

  • Nequam

    Yeesh, is my mother the only 70+ straight person who has no problem with SSM?


  • Daughter

     I wonder if he’s referring back to how many churches in the ’80s and ’90s were pro-immigration, citing the scriptures that talk about taking care of the aliens and strangers among you.  They didn’t often involve themselves in politics, but many ran ESL classes, newcomer welcome groups, etc. in order to help immigrants. That’s fallen to the wayside as many have become more focused on the boogiemen of abortion and anti-marriage equality.

  • Daughter

     I think Mohler is thinking that there may be people of color who are socially conservative, but economically liberal. So he may be promoting the opposite of the “rational conservative” party Mary Kaye imagined: one that gives up the economic conservatism and racism, but holds on to the social conservatism as a way to attract Latinos in particular.

  • Anton_Mates

    My grandmother didn’t give a damn about SSM and my grandfather thought it was an awesome idea, and they were Protestant-born white folks from Oregon who had five kids and died pushing 80.  But she was a public school teacher and he was an atheist philosophy professor, so, y’know, clearly they knew nothing about values.

    They were also children of the Depression and the most ridiculously financially responsible people I ever met–stored all their receipts, bank statements and tax returns from the last 50+ years in one giant desk, put all their kids and a couple of grandkids through very good schools, played the stock market very cautiously and very successfully, etc.  And they nonetheless advocated for a social safety net on par with Sweden’s, because they realized that not everybody could do what they did.  And that even those few people who refused to be responsible out of laziness, or sheer spite, or something, probably didn’t deserve to actually starve in the gutter as a result.

  • Lori

    Yeesh, is my mother the only 70+ straight person who has no problem with SSM?   

    Definitely not. However, she is a rare enough case to deserve a high five or whichever other mom-appropriate gesture of appreciation the two of you prefer.

    So says the slightly envious woman living with two 80+ year old members of Fox Nation.

  • Mary Kaye

    My 70+ dad is helping take care of a gay friend who’s struggling with prostate cancer.  I admire the hard work he’s doing for his friend, and also the fact that it never fazes him for an instant that it causes the hospice staff and so forth to assume he’s gay. 

    I don’t think this was a recent change of heart, either.  They’ve been friends most of my life.

    My only regret is that the friend’s long-term companion passed away before they could legally get married.  They were very sweet together and I would have loved to attend their wedding.

    On consideration, my parents’ affectionate acceptance of that friend and his companion was probably really important in my growing up with the idea that being gay was okay.  I grew up in a fairly red state and might otherwise have ended up having to struggle with internalized homophobia.

  • Smiting kumquats? That might be worth watching.