Note: This is a continuation of my Six Personal Observations about the Values Voter Summit, held this past weekend in Washington, DC. Please read Part One for background and context. It’s a lot of information, which is why I divided it. (If it’s any consolation: I ended up leaving out more of my notes that I included.)
Again, they are MY observations, which I present with an admitted, unapologetic bias.
3. Warped View of America.
What I heard from this conference was not a call to patriotism.
It was not about being proud of our country, it was an arrogant, nationalistic vision of a country superior to other. Their America would be cold, authoritarian and aggressive. Not as much a partner, or even a protector of the world, but more like a schoolyard bully.
It was evident to me these right-wing prognosticators are terrified of a pluralistic America. Frenzied fear appears to be intent of the speakers as they railed against the “enemies” of our country. However, it was not the enemies we would hope: terrorism, failing education, gun violence, hunger, homelessness or poverty. Instead, their disdain was concentrated on the people who make up our nation, not actual problems. Rather than affirm the dignity of all Americans, they marginalized and demonized selected minorities.
Speaker after speaker embraced and reinforced the identity of “us,” while defining, then demeaning “them.”
“They” are the problem. (i.e., Muslims, feminists, atheists, people of color, immigrants, LGBT people, etc.)
“We” are the solution.
“We” are patriots; it's "our" country.
In direct contrast to the documents used to form our country, foundational principles such as freedom and equality were revised to include only those who hold to their strict moral concepts and beliefs. The Summit was about "our" rights while America was built on liberty and justice for “all.”
4. Divine Favoritism.
The clarion message was God is on “our” side. If you’re a Christian, this is how you must believe, this is what you must care about, and this is how you must vote. At the opening breakfast, the tone of the conference was set when speaker David Barton, president of WallBuilders (Barton believes the Bible is the absolute guidebook for everything, from governance to marriage to education to taxation) informed attendees that “God’s top five issues” were abortion, marriage, public acknowledgment of religion, judicial nominations and support for Israel. Caring about other issues was outside of God's priorities.
Speakers repeatedly predicted divine judgment and national doom if Hillary is elected, and implied (or stated) those who refuse to vote for Trump are ungodly, unpatriotic, faithless, without “values.” Jon Voight said “if God allows truth to be said and heard,” the result will be Donald Trump as the next president. Kirk Cameron cautioned that America is at a pivotal point where “we’re going to turn back to God or we’re going to continue on a path that’s going to take us over a cliff.”
In other words: God’s Way = Donald Trump!
5. Constitutional Hypocrisy.
As always at these kinds of events, there’s an emphasis on the absolute, unquestionable provisions of the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms. However, when it comes to the First Amendment, the new emphasis is an interpretation that elevates the rights of a Christian faith over and above that of other Americans. So while all American can own guns, only some Americans should have a right to their religious beliefs. The watchword of “religious liberty” was used frequently, but in context, it’s actually about allowing Christian businesses the right to refuse to provide products or services to LGBT people. In other words, their religious beliefs are codified into discrimination. And when they don't get their way, they now call that “religious persecution.”
Not to overstate it (and I don't think I am), but what’s being promoted is a theocracy, with their version of “Christianity” as the foundation. Donald Trump told the crowd that as President “our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before…. You know it. And that includes religious liberty. Remember, remember.” He even promised he would “repeal” the Johnson Amendment, which barred churches and other tax exempt groups from endorsing political candidates. (Never mind the fact Presidents don’t have that authority!)
It’s dangerous rhetoric.
6. Glaring Inconsistencies.
It amazes me that the irony of their positions is oblivious to them. Clueless! They fear “Sharia Law,” but are content to legislate Christian morality, particularly in the form of laws against LGBT people. They whine that their own “religious freedom” being violated, but have no qualms about discriminating against someone who disagrees with their beliefs. They call that "religious persecution." They decry Islam because of the action of some Fundamental extremists, but cannot see they are the Christian version of that same coin.
Conclusion: This summit...and these groups...are not looking to the future; they want to live in the past. (But only the past depicted on the best episodes of Father Knows Best.) They are not making history, they want to re-write it. They aren’t about “values,” but about de-valuing those who are different. The world is changing, and they are not happy!
The organizer of this annual politico-religious summit is the Family Research Council, designated a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), so the expectations of the "values" we'd see were almost predetermined. And it was evident throughout the event. With a few exceptions, this was a group of white people who couldn’t be more extreme if they wore white hoods. The “values” put forth represent those of the most narrow-minded among us—better suited for a KKK rally of the 1950s than a diverse country like the United States of America in the 21st century.
Again, I welcome your thoughts, insights and questions. I do not intend to argue, nor will I allow this to become a forum to promote GOP candidates or causes, but I'm open to civil discussions.