It was a surreal experience. Sitting in the heart of the Eastern bastion of the political Left, I felt as if there were a sign on my back that read “Christian Reconstructionist.” For a brief 24 hours my Chalcedon credentials were safely tucked away as I listened to a succession of pundits weave a spurious tale that disclosed the “Real Agenda of the Religious Far Right.” This was the title of the recent conference sponsored by the Open Center in midtown Manhattan.
It was also a religious experience (small “r”). Gasps, murmurs, and giggles were liturgically offered back to each speaker by a spellbound audience, who heard for the first time the “Oliver Stone” version of how America is tipping over the edge to theocracy. Beginning with the political defeat of Barry Goldwater, and moving swiftly through the backroom discussions of Paul Weyrich, R.J. Rushdoony, and Pat Robertson, these self-appointed experts contrived a sophisticated plot to account for the weighty political dominionism of the Religious Right. Although we were in a basement auditorium, it reminded me of the upper room in Acts 2: a board of apostles and their disheveled multitude gathered together in one accord awaiting a mighty rushing wind.
There is an extensive cast of characters when you review a forty-year story of a religious-political movement. In this conference, however, only the most controversial were selected for systematic scathing. I even found myself in silent agreement at times when these piquant professors humorously ridiculed the last days madness of Tim LaHaye and Hal Lindsey. In the end, the image of the Religious Right was painted as a multi-headed fascist beast rising out of an ocean of red states bent on devouring the moral liberties of an unsuspecting nation.
Why Is America So Red?
The presidential election of 2004 left many in the blue states wondering why two plus two did not equal five. That’s the problem with elitism. Isolation distorts their understanding of the simple way mainstream America adds things up. This was apparent at the Open Center conference.
Still reeling from the post-election concussion, these bold inquisitors taxed the conference leaders to explain just how the majority of Americans could swallow the value-based platform of the Religious Right. They saw their fellow countrymen as under the corporate spell of Dobson, Robertson, LaHaye, and their political puppets in Washington.
I think I can answer that question — consider it unsolicited advice to the steering committee of the “secular agenda.” The reason why so many Americans joined the conservative cause should be apparent. If I adopt the Left’s beleaguered analogy of comparing Islamic fundamentalism to contemporary Christianity, the secularists should easily see the direction the moral winds are blowing.
Nativity Scenes and Right-Wing Recruitment
A central premise to the anti-war argument is that the invasion of Iraq is better used as a recruitment tool for Al Qaeda than a means of cultivating Eastern democracy. This assessment is not off base. It’s the perceived aggression by the West that motivates young Muslims to join in the Jihad and prolong the reality of a free Iraq. War critics persuasively argue that military force cannot produce Jeffersonian democracy in a part of the world that knows only dictators, monarchies, and theocracies. Yet for all their supposedly clear thinking regarding Bush’s foreign policy, these nobles cannot fathom how America can make FOXNews the most watched cable news channel!
Secular liberals are making crucial mistakes in communicating with most Americans. They thought that by seeking the removal of insignificant public religious displays through the violence of litigation they would provide liberty for all. While Bush was pulling down statues of Saddam Hussein, secular soldiers were pulling down Ten Commandments monuments and nativity scenes. The ACLU must have thought mainstream America would greet them with cheers and flowers! Hardly.
The secular strategy to spread liberty by preemptive litigation is no different in principle than the Bush policy to spread democracy by preemptive military action — a foreign policy these advocates adamantly oppose. Their schizophrenia is humorous to watch.
What they failed to realize was that America wasn’t seeking freedom from religious monuments. There was no national cry to change the Pledge of Allegiance, ban Christmas, or remove the miniscule cross from the seal of the city of Los Angeles. Nor were many Americans leaping for joy at the civil disobedience displayed in San Francisco and Massachusetts when rogue judges illegally sanctioned gay marriages. In fact, most of the country was sickened by the televised images of same-sex couples kissing at the altar. There’s only so much a red state can take!
Simply stated, the secularists only enhanced recruitment to the Religious Right, and galvanized the conservative base by dragging multitudes to court over nativity scenes and religious monuments. For every cable news interview with the whining Michael Newdow, thousands more determined to vote Republican in the 2004 election. This is an equation the secular should understand.
So long as the liberal bastions remain as gated communities within the larger suburbia of American culture, they will continually fail in their assessment of national culture. That will be difficult for them to do. They are disgusted by NASCAR America, and hold the silent majority in contempt. So, my guess is that they will continue their war on nativity scenes while defending the unholy sacrament of gay marriage. This warped pursuit of civil liberties appears to be leading nowhere. I’m sure they’ll stick with it!
 This article in no way represents the political position of myself or the Chalcedon Foundation. The intent of this article is to demonstrate how secularists are overlooking their own critical approaches when they inquire of the recent increase in conservative support among mainstream Americans.
 This article is in no way is an endorsement of the present administration’s foreign policy.