The entrepreneurial activism of Tim LaHaye’s theologized politics

The entrepreneurial activism of Tim LaHaye’s theologized politics April 13, 2013

Throughout his decades-long career, Tim LaHaye has always been three things: an entrepreneur, an evangelist, and a right-wing political activist. If you want to understand LaHaye, the role he played in creating and expanding the religious right, and his ongoing influence on American culture, then you need to appreciate all three of those things and the way they are bound together, inseparably, in LaHaye’s long life.

Steve Fouse provides a valuable service by illustrating each of those three things in his lengthy profile: “Tim LaHaye, the Bible Belt, and the Sun Belt: More Complex Than Kansas.” Fouse has done an enormous amount of research, but almost all of it was from the stacks, not from the shelves. His essay avoids the many books written about LaHaye’s politicized theology/theologized politics, and focuses, instead, on newspaper mentions of LaHaye over the years. Fouse even avoids LaHaye’s own books, mentioning them only in the context of how they are mentioned by others in the press.

Some call me … Tim.

That’s an odd, but interesting, approach. It provides a sometimes-illuminating new angle from which to view LaHaye’s work and influence. Fouse has done a terrific job ferreting out more than a dozen disparate press reports on LaHaye’s various endeavors and it’s great to have that all assembled in one place. This will be a helpful reference for future writers exploring the legacy of LaHaye, of the religious right, and of the “Bible prophecy” political theology of premillennial dispensationalism.

Unfortunately, Fouse doesn’t try to tie all of this together. His thesis actually prevents him from doing so, as his goal in discussing LaHaye is to show that the “Sun Belt” religion represented by the Orange County evangelist is “more complex” than the simpler portrait of “Bible Belt” religion provided by Thomas Frank in What’s the Matter With Kansas? (Fouse cites Frank’s book only as mediated through Darren Dochuk’s From Bible Belt to Sun Belt — the only book directly cited in the piece.)

So really this profile of Tim LaHaye isn’t primarily a profile at all. It’s an attempt to marshal data points demonstrating this purported “complexity” — to show that the white suburban evangelicalism exemplified by LaHaye’s career can’t fit into the categories Frank used to describe the white rural evangelicalism of Kansas. (Fouse doesn’t ever actually use the word “white,” though. He doesn’t seem to notice that this is a defining, limiting aspect of both the Bible Belt and Sun Belt religion he is discussing. That’s kind of a huge problem, as we’ll discuss in a bit.)

Fouse is uncomfortable with the way Frank seems to portray Bible Belt Christians as “reactionary, helpless, and stupid.” Me too. But rather than challenge that, he basically argues that, yes, the white Southern Christians may be “reactionary, helpless, and stupid,” but the white suburban Christians are more sophisticated — as demonstrated by the work of LaHaye:

LaHaye and fellow conservative evangelicals are indeed concerned about key social issues like abortion and gay rights. These issues are not, though, the only issues of concern to them. Of early and key importance to LaHaye and others was the protection and promotion of marriage and family. Evangelicals were not just interested in preventing gays from marrying, but were also interested in strengthening their own marriages and protecting their children from what they saw as harmful and untrue forces at work in schools and society, including feminism and sex education. The threat of communism and socialism loomed large in their minds and promised to wreck the economy and destroy the country they wanted to preserve for their children. The issues they voted on and the stances they promoted were many, and conservative evangelicals were proactive in building organizations and recruiting others to their causes. These were not the reactionary, helpless, and stupid conservatives of Kansas; these were generating, agential, and coordinated conservatives of Southern California. Their scope was not just their immediate area and cities, but extended to the entire nation, and had particular influence among Bible Belt evangelicals. These conservatives didn’t just tend their farms and hope for conservatism to change the world; they build businesses, crafted numerous organizations, and traveled the country and the world espousing their views trying to steer their country toward a future for which they hoped. To some extent, they succeeded. They ousted liberals from Congress and seated one of their own in the White House. Their time in the spotlight may have come and gone, but they were undeniably a major political force in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

That’s the core of Fouse’s argument, and the core of his confusion. He wants to suggest that white SoCal evangelicals are more “complex” than white Bible Belt evangelicals because “abortion and gay rights” are “not … the only issues of concern to them.” They’re also interested in “the protection and promotion of marriage and family.” That confuses a new euphemism for the same agenda with a new agenda.

It’s probably easier to understand Fouse’s confusion if we look at Beverly LaHaye, Tim’s wife of 65 years. Fouse mentions Beverly LaHaye’s campaign in the 1970s “to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment.” He doesn’t mention how that effort led to her founding Concerned Women for America — a lobbying and direct-mail fundraising group with more than 250,000 members and an annual budget of $8 million. Concerned Women was founded in reaction against the ERA as a kind of anti-National Organization for Women.

Using the logic of Fouse’s argument, we could say that Concerned Women has a “complex” agenda. The group didn’t only oppose the Equal Rights Amendment, it also opposed no-fault divorce and government-funded child care. See? Complex.

But that supposed complexity only seems complicated if we fail or refuse to see how all those things are the same thing. Concerned Women is anti-feminist and anti-modern. It advocates for patriarchal, sectarian hegemony. That advocacy is multi-faceted, but not terribly “complex.”

This is just as true of Tim LaHaye and his white “Sun Belt” political theology. All the supposed “complexity” that Fouse attributes to it falls under this same general rubric — which applies just as well to the white “Bible Belt” political theology of Kansas and the South. It’s anti-feminist and anti-modern. It advocates for patriarchal, sectarian hegemony. Their opposition to “abortion and gay rights” are expressions of this. Their understanding of “the protection and promotion of marriage and family” are expressions of this. That’s why, for example, opposing universal public child care  is a consistent piece of the religious-right agenda and not the contradiction of “pro-life” and “pro-family” claims that it would otherwise seem to be.

All of which is to say that Fouse’s thesis is profoundly confused. But don’t let that stop you from reading the entire article, because if you bracket the pure hooey of that “complexity” argument, the long stream of details Fouse provides from LaHaye’s ever-evolving entrepreneurial activism offers a fascinating look at the way the religious right has adapted, developed and expanded over the years.

That entrepreneurial approach is as inseparable from LaHaye’s political activism as his right-wing theology is from his right-wing politics. LaHaye’s response to any perceived political problem is to start a new organization. Some of those have been lucrative successes. Others have been lucrative failures. They’ve all been geared toward raising money to deploy power. And toward deploying power to raise money. (The chicken-or-egg question of which matters most isn’t important.)

Here’s a classic example of that:

In the late 70s, LaHaye and other evangelical conservatives banded together in support of Proposition 6, a ban on gays and lesbians serving as teachers, and Proposition 13, a limit on property tax. Homosexuality served as a hot topic politically and did much to rally evangelical conservatives to political action. Lacking great public support even from Ronald Reagan, Proposition 6 failed. Nevertheless, homosexuality continued to be a strong point of contention for conservative voters. With the failure of Proposition 6 fresh on his mind, LaHaye was motivated to start the Californians for Biblical Morality, a political action group designed to encourage politicians to ‘“make laws and decisions based on traditional biblical morality.’”

… The Associated Press also ran a national article highlighting the activities of Californians for Biblical Morality against the ACLU. The article mentions that LaHaye started CBM just a few months before Jerry Falwell started the Moral Majority. Curtis Maynard, an associate minister at Scott Memorial Baptist Church and the interviewee for the article, says that Moral Majority is “[CBM’s] nationwide counterpart.” The article mentions CBM’s political opponents as “’humanists’ … espousing atheism, evolution, amorality, self-centered autonomy and socialism” and their allies as those promoting “anti-abortion laws and amendments permitting prayer in public schools and against pornography.”

Tim LaHaye founded CBM the same year that Beverly LaHaye founded Concerned Women. And they both used the same method, following the blueprint laid out by LaHaye’s buddy Richard Viguerie, the direct-mail fundraising guru who was the architect for so much of the religious right. Bev LaHaye campaigned against the ERA, creating a huge database of names and addresses that formed the basis for founding Concerned Women. Tim LaHaye campaigned for an anti-gay proposition in California, creating a huge database of names and addresses that formed the basis for founding Californians for Biblical Morality.

Proposition 6 did not pass, but it was still a success, because it identified the base of funders for CBM — tens of thousands of names and addresses of people who have demonstrated that they’re scared enough to write checks when confronted with the terrifying prospect of gay teachers in the schools. Or of “evolution, amorality, self-centered autonomy and socialism.” Or of secular humanists opposed to official sectarian prayers.

And they provided a list of potential new audiences for ever-m0re Bible prophecy seminars and seminars on “the protection and promotion of marriage and family.”

The lucrative seminar business and the checks from donors to “Californians for Biblical Morality” helped to fund the next round of big political campaigns and petition drives. And those would, in turn, supply thousands of new names and addresses for the entrepreneurial evangelist’s next new organization.

Fouse’s article provides a nice round-up of LaHaye’s relentless founding of institutions — some of which he spun off into thriving, ongoing enterprises, while others quickly faded to be just as quickly replaced by the next new thing. The Institution for Creation Research, unfortunately, is in the former category. As is the Council for National Policy:

With his mentorship, Southern California evangelicals created the Council for National Policy. This extensive and secretive umbrella organization united four hundred evangelical leaders, 84 percent of whom [are] from the Deep South. More than any other previous organization, the Council for National Policy united virtually every major evangelical leader, including LaHaye, James Dobson, Bill Bright, and many more.

That claim about “every major evangelical leader” is not an overstatement — not so long as you limit the category, as Fouse does there, to include only white, right-wing men. Most of those major evangelical leaders, Fouse notes, citing Dochuk, are Southern “Bible Belt” evangelicals. LaHaye’s Council for National Policy has helped to unite and coordinate their political action, keeping them lined up in support of his far-right political agenda. That sounds an awful lot like what Thomas Frank describes in What’s the Matter With Kansas? (As does the way the anti-gay religious folk supporting Prop 6 above were exploited to help pass the anti-tax Prop 13 — a classic example of Frank’s thesis.)

Here’s Fouse’s conclusion:

In a way, Tim LaHaye typifies post-war conservative evangelicals. LaHaye entered the scene eager to combat social and political ills as he saw them, and his modus operandi was to band together with other conservatives in political action groups, or to start a new political action group with explicit goals. In the 60s and 70s LaHaye’s fame and influence grew, swelling well beyond Southern California, showing rippling influence with fellow conservative evangelicals in the Bible Belt and drawing notice throughout the country and the world. By the 1980s, with Reagan in the White House, conservatives seem to fracture, with ministers like LaHaye now combating fellow evangelicals on social and political stances. …

That’s pretty sharp, until the next sentence:

LaHaye seems to fade from political power around that time, moving to the background and creating a popular fictional series that had little or no political effect.

The idea that “moving to the background” indicates a lessening of political influence is backwards. Some power is wielded in the spotlight, but “the background” is often where the real power lies. LaHaye knows this, which is why his CNP has wielded more influence for a longer time than most of the many spotlight-hungry organizations that have come and gone since it began.

The notion that LaHaye’s “popular fictional series … had little or no political effect” is wrong on at least two levels. First of all, it’s factually incorrect, because the series has had enormous political effect. LaHaye’s “prophecy”-obsessed PMD theology continues to shape American politics in numerous ways — foreign policy in the Middle East, a reflexive suspicion of international cooperation, conspiracy-driven opposition to gun safety or climate regulation, etc.

And just consider this: from 1995 through 2007, Tim LaHaye co-authored a series of runaway best-sellers steeped in John Birch Society ideology. During those years he sold more than 60 million copies of books that served as propaganda for a particular political agenda. The tea party movement sprang up in 2009, espousing the exact neo-Bircher ideology and agenda promoted in LaHaye’s novels. Is that just a remarkable coincidence?

The second mistake in that sentence above is that Fouse misunderstands what he has already revealed about the subject of this profile/not-profile piece. In the preceding paragraphs, Fouse shows us that Tim LaHaye is always starting new entrepreneurial endeavors. The Left Behind books are part of this pattern. Tim LaHaye cranked out a fiction series for the same reason he started CBM or the CNP or the ICR: to advance his politico-theological agenda, and to provide the revenue that will fund the next organization, campaign, proposition or institute. That’s who he is and what he does.

Whether it’s a new book, a new direct-mail fundraising group, a single-issue lobbying effort, a series of novels, a movie, or whatever, each new start-up enterprise is about influence and revenue. The Left Behind series has provided Tim LaHaye with plenty of both.


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  • hidden_urchin

    Essentially, ” follow the money.”

  • I think what this post shows is the danger of dismissing apocalyptic thinking as being a property of fringe movements only. Even if anti-Barack Obama folks don’t phrase their opposition to his existence as President in terms of explicitly referencing the Book of Revelation, they still frame it in terms of a kind of titanic struggle for a particular image of the USA which they see as being torn away by forces they dislike and are afraid of.

  • AnonaMiss

    White supremacists crying about Fred differentiating between white and black Evangelical cultures in 5… 4…

  • Jurgan

    “self-centered autonomy and socialism”

    Say what? So you’re accusing your opponents of being Randians and communists at the same time? How does that work?

  • Both are atheists.

  • P J Evans

    You have to enjoy the irony of a group with ‘national policy’ in its name being made up mostly of people from only one region in the country.

  • P J Evans

    They can’t tell the difference. Look at how many of them refer to Obama as a Marxist , a socialist, or a communist, while he’s doing everything he can to make businesses more profitable for their owners..

  • These conservatives didn’t just tend their farms and hope for conservatism to change the world; they build businesses, crafted numerous organizations, and traveled the country and the world espousing their views trying to steer their country toward a future for which they hoped. To some extent, they succeeded. They ousted liberals from Congress and seated one of their own in the White House. Their time in the spotlight may have come and gone, but they were undeniably a major political force in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

    This is something Altemeyer described about the religious right, and why it is so influential despite being a minority voice within the Republican party. While there are plenty of other voting blocks who outnumber them, the religious right out-coordinates them, with voting drives, staffing phone banks, and letter writing campaigns. The reason that they are so good at this is because proselytizing is so important to them, what they train themselves for, and what they approach with passionate energy. To them, that kind of political activism is just another kind of evangelism, only they are often near-literally preaching to the choir, where they enjoy a lot more success than preaching to the heathens. Indeed, their religious views and their political views have come to be intertwined and bled together so heavily that it would not be inaccurate to say that this is literally their idea of evangelism.

  • Compartmentalized thinking. Saying that Obama is a Muslim while also saying he is an atheist. Saying that the government cannot provide as good quality health care as the private industry while at the same time fearing that government health care would put the private health industry out of business. Claiming that America is the greatest nation in the world while at the same time claiming it is a fallen state given over to sin and ruin.

    It would be one thing if people simply ignored evidence in favor of slogans, but it is especially bad when their own slogans start contradicting themselves.

  • Fusina

    I’m somewhat behind on reading the newspapers, so it was only yesterday that I read the Easter Sunday edition. And in it, on the letters pages, was a gentleman who announced that allowing same sex marriage will interfere with domestic and international security.

    Ah, yes, the nice men in clean white coats are here for you sir. Do try on the jacket with the extra long sleeves…

    In other words, Huh???

  • “Socialism” is supposed to be a self-centered system because folks on the religious right think it’s a way for people to get gifts for themselves from the state. The idea that maybe actual socialists actually think the system should benefit other people is considered to be a smokescreen to hide people’s real motivations. “Self-centered autonomy” is probably a euphemism for “wants to have sex without having babies” rather than anything to do with Objectivism.
    At least that’s the impression I’ve gotten from conservatives I know.

  • On the surface, the two are in blatant contradiction.
    But, remember, this is religious in nature. So, “autonomy” doesn’t refer to individual freedom in terms of what Government can impose upon you. It refers to individual freedom in terms of what God can impose upon you through, among other things, government. Think of it this way, “it only limits freedom if it’s a freedom that you should be allowed to exercise anyway.”
    Beyond that, yeah, there is a bit of the ability to hold two competing beliefs apart in one head. The way you accomplish this is you don’t focus on what is actually being said in terms of details and definitions, but on the emotional associations.
    “Obama is a Communist, Atheist, Muslim” then translates as “That living reminder of frighteningly changing demographics leave us no longer automatically most powerful is a bad, bad bad.”

  • Carstonio

    Fouse writes almost like he’s LaHaye’s official biographer, swallowing his subject’s hype without questioning it.

    While “self-centered autonomy”is obviously intended as a euphemism, it’s not obvious what it means. It could mean non-procreative sex or Randism, as suggested here. My first thought was that it might refer to people refusing to follow their God-dictated destinies.

  • sonottoosoon

    So I took a dive into that swamp of indiscretion known as social media (Person of Interest, love it!) looking for the Council for National Policy, and to give them credit, the organization doesn’t have much of an overt web presence at all.

    But then I found these videos on Vimeo:

    CNP – Our Past

    Celebrate CNP

    The Future Is Now

    I think these promotional videos were probably only intended to be shown at meetings of other religious-right organizations rather than presented to the world at large as part of a videographer’s resume. There’s a fair bit being given away there.

  • While my first reaction to “self-centered autonomy” was that it had to do with non-procreative sex, this morning I think that the idea is a bit broader than that, and wouldn’t be considered a euphemism by the folks using the term.

    Remember that for social conservatives, the basic unit of society is not the individual, but the family. And it must be a specific kind of family: a man who works hard and sacrifices to support his wife and children, a woman who stays at home to care for the children and run the household, and children who obey their parents and grow up to take care of Mom & Dad when they are no longer able to care for themselves. Anything that deviates from this plan–intentionally childless couple, single mother, married woman with a career, man without a career, same-sex couple with or without kids, anyone who deviates from “traditional” gender roles–is self-centered because it places individual desires or needs above that familial foundation of society.

  • flat

    everything I needed to know about Tim Lahaye I learned it from Fred Clark.

  • banancat

    I think you’re way too generous. For social conservatives, the basic unit of society is a Patriarch and his property. Plenty of unmarried and childless men have thrived within the subculture that claims to value family. Not being part of a family only hurts the people who are considered accessories without someone to belong to. For example, consider Bill Gothard, who is the head of the cult of the Quiverfull movement, although he has never been married or had children. He doesn’t need to breed his only little kingdom of worshipers like the peons in his movement, because of them are already underneath him in the hierarchy.

  • The mistake you’re making is in thinking that it has to mean anything at all.

  • Does anyone care to give those of us who would rather not watch the videos the gist of them? I am not so much too lazy to watch them, as I am afraid it might be triggering (willful ignorance makes me angry.)

  • That seems to always be the best advice, doesn’t it? Being a persecuted minority in a corrupt world is curiously profitable.

  • Lori

    IME Gothard is the exception rather than the rule. At least among the conservatives I know lifelong bachelors tend to be looked at with more or less the same level of suspicion as women who aren’t married*. They don’t have their power restricted in the same way of course, but they do get the side eye and it can limit their options.

    You see that mostly in professional ministry and politics. I think that’s changing some in politics, but mostly on the liberal side. If you’re planning to run as a Republican and you don’t have a spouse and at least one adorable moppet you’re going to have problems. AFAICT it’s still generally an issue in professional ministry. Plenty of people have pointed out that neither Jesus nor Paul could even get an interview at the vast majority of churches. No wife? No way.

    Gothard basically inherited his ministry and I’m still not sure how he got people to buy into the idea that he knows jack shit about marriage and child-rearing. He clearly has the gift of scam, because that’s not a trick that many people are able to pull off.

    *That level of suspicion varies according to how much the person is liked. If they’re well-liked then they just never met the right person and/or singleness was God’s Plan For Their Life. If they’re not well-liked then they’re suspected of being gay or too picky or impossible to live with or ______ fill in the blank with some other nasty stereotype about single people.

  • As for me, if the videos aren’t closed captioned they won’t help me much. Any transcripts?

  • sonottoosoon

    Sure, and that’s a perfectly good reason not to watch.

    The first video is basically just Tim LaHaye and Richard Viguerie giving a potted account of how the band got together. A booming voice compares them and their cohorts to the founding fathers. Reverential reference to Ronald Reagan. The notion that the organization is a sort of coming together of disparate people is floated too. Very silly but pretty mild as these things go.

    The second video is a sickeningly schmaltzy five minute gushfest from various people associated with the CNP about what a wonderful organization it is, just the very best kind of people and so on. It’s just sad when you see the young people gushing about this organization. It does serve as a fairly comprehensive visual illustration of who these people are, but yeah. Maybe put the sound off.

    The third video is a predictable “look to the future” deal, emphasizing the organization’s younger members, giving a nod to the fact that we use the internet now instead of fax machines, ain’t that something, repeating the notion that it’s not the message that needs to change it’s the messaging… Generally coming across as clueless and a little desperate, which is kind of reassuring.

  • sonottoosoon

    Sorry, there aren’t. But one of the takeaways I got from the videos was what they show visually – that the CNP has lots of prominent religious-right social conservatives either among its members or as associates, and that it is making some effort to replenish its membership with people of a non-old-white-male disposition.

  • mroge

    They just throw mud and see what sticks…

  • mhelbert

    not sure that’s mud they’re throwing. I hope none of it hits a fan.

  • mroge

    I hadn’t heard that one but I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. The hallmark of the anti-gay movement is hysteria. They claim that they don’t “hate” gays and that they simply “disagree with their lifestyle” and yet they can’t carry a logical argument against it. They don’t like being called “homophobic” but it is so obvious that they are because all their objections are fear-based fantasies not based in reality at all. Honestly I think that is the reason that public opinion is changing on this issue because they see how irrational the opponents actually are.
    A few decades ago people were convinced that inter-racial marriage would have disasterous consequences on society. Now nobody blinks an eye. The fear-mongers were proven wrong then and they will be proven wrong again when it comes to gay marriage. I just hope it comes sooner rather than later.

  • Fusina

    It is coming. Both my children are pro marriage equality, and are aghast at the concept that once upon a time inter-racial marriage was illegal.

    I was raised in the anti-homosexuality lifestyle, and I changed my mind, so I know it can happen. In my case, it was definitely partly due to meeting and getting to know a guy who was gay. And he was normal. Well, mostly. We talked a lot about shoes, and how hard it is to get pretty sexy shoes when your feet are bigger than a size 6. Thanks to him, I learned about a couple of stores that cater to those of us with larger size feet who still want cute shoes. That was then. Now, most all stores have cute larger shoes.

    Sorry, got a bit off track there. I guess what I really want to know is how marriage equality will affect security.

  • j_bird

    I’m not an expert on Quiverfull or Gothard, but I’ll try to synthesize banancat’s and Lori’s arguments:

    If they’re well-liked then they just never met the right person and/or singleness was God’s Plan For Their Life. If they’re not well-liked then they’re suspected of being gay or too picky…

    If you replace “well-liked” with “have an independent source of power”, then banancat’s power-based analysis meshes with yours. An ordinary man can show his worth and gain a bit of power/status in the Quiverfull movement by asserting his dominance over a family. A man like Gothard, who has a ready-made position of power/status (through inheritance) can skip that pesky family stuff.

    Though the gift of grift probably helps a good deal. :D

  • mroge

    Actually i hope it does!

  • mroge

    I’d like to know too. What paper was this in?

  • VMink

    The threat of communism and socialism loomed large in their minds and promised to wreck the economy and destroy the country they wanted to preserve for their children.

    Because the capitalist financial industry would never do such a thing!

  • I’ve heard variations of this one before. Usually the core of the argument is that the strength of thing-to-be-protected (e.g., the country) depends on the family, and that therefore weakening the family makes the (e.g.) country less secure, and that marriage equality weakens the family by challenging/denying the assumptions on which family is (according to the speaker) built, which include such things as traditional gender roles and more generally everyone doing things the same way.

  • I regret that I have but one “like” to give.

  • Fusina

    Washington Post, op ed page, Letters from public, Section A, Sunday, Mar. 31. Letter writer, last name Rives.

  • Fusina

    So, basically, they are making up some shit?

  • Well of course not. Under communism and socialism, man oppresses man. Capitalism is exactly the opposite of that!

  • I have heard some variation about how allowing open gays in the military reduces national defense, because men in fox holes will be too busy worrying about whether the guy behind him is checking out his ass to take cover and shoot straight.

    … which makes me think that the objectors have a very strange sense of priority if they were in a firefight.

  • This of course leads to men getting into marriages for political/social reasons when a long-term monogamous relationship with a woman is not really what they are well suited to or would make them happy (i.e. they tend to be more of a serial monogamist or they actually are gay, etc.)

    The excessive insistence on having “normal” families ironically leads to a lot more broken families. The degree to which they hold a value undermines that very value.

  • Czanne

    I find the synchronicity of Props 6 & 13 to be very interesting, but I don’t remember when it happened (if I’ve got my dates right, I was 1. on another continent, 2. Just learning to read and 3. Didn’t know property tax from pinochle.)

    Here in Colorado, I’ve noticed that petition driven propositions tend to come in pairs — one piece of doomed to fail red meat for the base (our biennial or quadrennial gavotte with fetal personhood, frex) and something fiscally complicated and devastating to our safety net (but which can be summed inaccurately as “keep the gummint off’n my money”.) The latter generally passes. (It should be noted that our “discriminate against QUILTBAGS with legal immunity” law that was eventually struck down by the USSC — Amendment 2 — passed the same year as our state budget wrecking Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which has turned out to be garbage soup.)

    I’ve been wondering if this isn’t intentional — use the red meat to bring out the social conservatives and make sure they’ve got a voting guide that obfuscates the fiscal matter, and use the fiscal conservatives to gin up money to get the red meat some coverage. At least in 1992, Amendment 2 and TABOR both came from the same place (HQed in Colorado Springs), had socially and politically connected champions, and an overlapping core group of donors and operatives. It looks like collusion to me.

  • Dunno. Most of the underlying stuff (e.g., “traditional gender roles are important to maintaining organizational strength”) is borrowed from earlier shit, so they aren’t making it up out so much as recycling it. Which doesn’t make much difference to me, since I don’t give it much weight either way.

  • Lori

    I think that probably explains Gothard to a large extent, but I don’t think it explains the people I’ve known personally. For those folks likability didn’t have any particular connection to having an independent source of power.

  • Or perhaps firefights are just a lot more fun than I’ve been given to understand. :-)

  • ohiolibrarian

    Are the religious right folks judging others (presumed “socialists” and “humanists”) based on their own motivations? Or do they believe as “good Christians” that what they themselves want and believe is entirely altruistic? So, when they oppose public policies that provide food and health care, that is for the (non-)recipients own good?

  • Straw Man

    “And just consider this: from 1995 through 2007, Tim LaHaye co-authored a series of runaway best-sellers steeped in John Birch Society ideology. During those years he sold more than 60 million copies of books that served as propaganda for a particular political agenda. The tea party movement sprang up in 2009, espousing the exact neo-Bircher ideology and agenda promoted in LaHaye’s novels. Is that just a remarkable coincidence?”

    That reads a little conspiracy-theoretical, doesn’t it? A mere 14 years after publishing Left Behind, the Tea Party formed! The timing can’t be coincidental…

    I would suggest that the Tea Party had much more to do with Ron Paul than Tim LaHaye. As his chances within the Republican Party dwindled, this faction emerged, rooted directly in Ron Paul’s “movement.” However, Paul himself attracted a range of supporters, from libertarians like himself to disgruntled “Reagan Republicans” to Birchers, Truthers, Birthers, and some racists who see libertarianism as a cloak for indulging their hate I unimpeded. Finally, the Republican “establishment” then cooped the whole mess to further their own political ambitions, channeling the disaffected back into the fold by making votes for a few new faces, who ultimately were firmly in the Republican fold, as a bold act of rebellion.

    Did LaHaye play a role in all that? Wouldn’t surprise me. But drawing a straight line from Birch to LaHaye to Michelle Bachman strikes me as just the sort of simplistic view that the Birchers espouse in reverse.