Fundagelical Watch

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Huckabee on "Hardball"

Just saw Chris Matthews interview Mike Huckabee. Damn, he looked good. He came across really well--calm, reasonable, sane, refreshing, and honest. He acknowledged in response to a Matthews question that he was both a "fundamentalist" conservative and a "fundamentalist" religiously, then quickly added that religious conservatives needed to add "hunger, poverty, the environment as well as education and health care reform" to the conservative fundamentalist agenda. Huh? Is he saying he's a Rick Warren kind of fundamentalist?

Matthews did his trademark slurping number and compared Huckabee to Martin Luther as a reformer, a "'Here I stand' kind of guy." This against the backdrop of the breaking story that former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's book, which comes out next April, says that the president, his chief of staff, the vice-president, his chief of staff (now convicted but commuted), and Karl Rove were involved all along in the attempt to discredit Joe Wilson by outing his wife as a covert CIA agent and sent McClellan out to lie about it every day.

Huckabee really liked the Martin Luther comparison. I just hope he doesn't harbor the same views Luther held about uppity peasants and Jews.

Chuck Norris a Veteran of Fundagelical Endorsements

Chuck Norris' endorsement of Mike Huckabee is not his first foray into fundagelical politics. He and his wife Gena are the prime spokespersons for an outfit called The National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS). Take a look at two of their promotional spots on the NCBCPS website.

NCBCPS, like most things in the fundagelical universe, is not, of course, what it seems to be at first glance. The story for general public consumption is that it just wants students to learn about the Bible as literature, history and an essential part of our cultural heritage. It's really a stealth movement to put the most extreme brand of fundagelicalism into public school classrooms. The organization boasts enormous success, claiming, for example, that 423 school districts have adopted their curriculum in 37 states and that 95% off all school boards they have approached have voted to implement it. They currently say on their website that over 221,000 students have already taken the course.

People for the American Way has been tracking these folks for some time, however, and have noted that in their public pronouncements they have played very loosely with their numbers, avoiding publication of a full list of school districts using their program but claiming that number has grown from 45 to the current 423. So no one really knows how successful they are. People for the American Way notes other discrepancies and some of the fundagelical powerhouses who are really behind the movement, including D. James Kennedy (now deceased), Pat Robertson, Howard Phillips and David Barton (I'll get around to Barton in a later post).

The Texas Freedom Network (TFN) has done the best job of researching the NCBCPS agenda and has a detailed analysis of their curriculum (which is very difficult to come by) available on line. Glance only at the Executive Summary, if you wish, but I recommend at least scanning the full report (in pdf format). You should especially check out pp. 18-19 where they cite Dr. Carl Baugh (no scientific doctorate, just one in education and another in theology) and plug his Creation Evidence Museum in Glen Rose, Texas. Dr. Baugh has a weekly program on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and has the "evidence" that the earth is just 6,000 years old and that humans and dinosaurs co-existed.

A few years ago, The Daily Show sent Mo Rocca down to Glen Rose to interview Dr. Baugh at his Creation Evidence Museum. Dr. Baugh seemed delighted to be on the Tv and proudly showed off his "museum" which turned out to be housed (so help me) in a double-wide trailer. The interview used to be up on YouTube, but Viacom made them take it down, and not even a transcript is available anywhere, including the official Daily Show website. But take my word for it, that segment was a thousand hoots.

I assume Dr. Baugh is still operating out of his double-wide since his website currently states that "contributions toward our building of a permanent museum facility are greatly needed and appreciated."

Monday, November 19, 2007

Huckabee Trying to Dispel Nice Guy Image

I'm having a lot of second thoughts about what I said recently about Mike Huckabee ("Meanness Counts," October 25 post). My take then was that Huckabee came across as just too nice a guy to attract much fundagelical support. I may have been right, but Huckabee is doing all he can to undo that image. It now looks as if he has a real chance in Iowa, and he's doing all he can to look as mean and tough as Guiliani. Now he has the personal endorsement of Don Wildmon, Homophobe-In-Chief at the American Family Association. His first Iowa TV ad, featured on his website, employs one of America's most famous tough guys, Chuck Norris.

Not only that, he's inching toward a campaign theme which basically says, "I'm the only ordained minister in the entire field of candidates, and that makes me best suited to fight a religious war (meaning the war against 'Islamo-Fascism,' including Iraq." I say inching in that direction because he first brought it up in an interview with the Associated Press in February of this year. At that time he said the war was about an "ill-interpreted theology," characterizing Muslim terrorism as a perversion of Islam. In October, on the respectable PBS program "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly," he again talked about our being in a "theological war," but also made it very clear that he had been real nice and welcoming to Muslim leaders while he was governor of Arkansas.

Then, lo and behold, after Pat Robertson endorsed Guiliani, he does an interview with David Brody of Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, and says that we are in a theocratic war (emphasis mine) and that "I'm the only guy on that stage with a theology degree."

Now, what's Huckabee really saying here? "Theological" has become "theocratic," and his Baptist ordination renders him best qualified to fight a theocratic war.

That sounds an awful lot like "It takes one to know one."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion."--Aristotle

Friday, November 09, 2007

Wildmon Endorses Huckabee

Well, I may have been wrong about Huckabee getting ignored by fundagelicals because he isn't mean enough. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, one of the premiere homophobic operations out there, has now endorsed him. Wildmon is no rock star on the Christian Right like Robertson or Dobson, but he does own 200 radio stations and claims 3 million online supporters. He made it clear that he was speaking only for himself and not the AFA or any other group with which he's associated. For a sampling of the wit and wisdom of Wildmon and the AFA check out the Media Matters archives.

On the other hand, Paul Weyrich, one of the founders of the modern Religious Right, endorsed Romney. He dismissed Huckabee as someone who "Every time you turn around, he's taking the wrong stand on a different issue." Weyrich wasn't specific, and I have no idea what he's talking about.

Let's see how many more of the usual suspects support Huckabee. I suspect not many.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Puzzled over Robertson's Endorsement of Giuliani?

For those of you scratching your heads over Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani yesterday, I simply refer you to my Thursday, October 25 post below. Note especially the last three paragraphs. As I said, meanness counts.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

More Skepticism about the Alleged Demise of the Religious Right

Jeff Sharlet has written an excellent piece on the New York Times sounding the death knell for the Fundagelical Right. He focuses on other things than I did in Monday's post and reinforces our need to be skeptical of MSM conventional wisdom.