Republicans, Limbaugh, Gingrich — and that old-time religion

If you are of a certain age and of a certain regionally based faith, the debilitating debate within Republican ranks, one that pits purity against inclusion, might seem more than familiar.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Southern Baptist Convention, then and now the largest Protestant denomination in America, was enveloped in a bitter power struggle between modernists and traditionalists. Biblical inerrancy was the primary litmus test, but there were many others.

Because both sides in the fight claimed the mantle of conservatism, they were dubbed “fundamentalists” and “moderates.” Biblical literalists eventually won, in part because Southern Baptist government is based on convention elections, not unlike the nation’s two political parties. And elections are won by the motivated, the outraged — the activists.

The parallels with the current Republican party, with which the SBC has been closely aligned since Ronald Reagan and the early 1980s, are obvious, even uncanny. While still the second largest religious organization in the United States, half of all Southern Baptists live in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.

The statistic may have changed slightly over the last few years, but as of 2004 or so, 70 percent of Southern Baptist churches were defined as “plateaued or declining.”

We take this theological turn today because one of the most enlightening debates over Republican ideology is now happening at Macon-based RedState.org, which is run by Erick Erickson.

Erickson has waded shoulder deep into the intra-Republican struggle — which for the sake of metaphor we’ll dub “fundamentalist” versus “centrist.”

Erickson is a fundamentalist, an adherent of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrich.

The RedState editor has attempted to foment a grass-roots war against the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which has backed Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — call him a centrist — over former state House speaker Marco Rubio — call him a fundamentalist — in the 2010 race to replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate.

On Thursday, Erickson posted an item in which he compared criticism of statements by the likes of Limbaugh, Hannity and Gingrich to the apostle Peter’s denial of Jesus:

Peter denied Christ three times. Our goal should be to not deny Christ and also to not deny the valuable members of our own movement.

Embracing them does not mean we embrace every word and every deed. But it should likewise mean we don’t race to the nearest microphone to condemn our own when they do something indiscrete. The people we should shun are the ones who are quick to throw the rest of us out for daring to stand up for our friends.

The vultures in our mist are typically the ones squawking loudest about other conservatives instead of the leftists out to destroy the country.

As Rush Limbaugh says, we should always play on offense. The moment the left gets us to start wringing our hands over one of our own is the moment they advance.

Erickson was followed this morning a with a post, on the same site, from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the NRSC. Cornyn defended the decision to rally behind Crist. And he reminded Republican readers that politics is about winning — not salvation:

Some believe that we should be a monolithic Party; I disagree. While we all might wish for a Party comprised only of people who agree with us 100 percent of the time, this is a pipedream.

Each Party is fundamentally a coalition of individuals rallying around core principles with some variations along the way.

The NRSC’s endorsement [of Crist] is not a reflection on Marco Rubio; it is a realistic assessment of both the 2010 Florida Senate race and the national map.

With the Democrats standing on the precipice of a filibuster-proof majority, we cannot afford to lose this seat in 2010.

Endorsing Charlie Crist will save the NRSC precious resources that can be used to fight in other states. It will also ensure that the strongest Republican candidate maintains control of this seat, and build our numbers with the resulting opportunity to shape policy.

Last night, on National Public Radio, Cornyn repudiated comments by Limbaugh and Gingrich calling U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor a “racist.”

This via the Dallas Morning News:

“I think it’s terrible. This is not the kind of tone that any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advice and consent,” Cornyn said. “Neither one of these men are elected Republican officials. I just don’t think it’s appropriate and I certainly don’t endorse it. I think it’s wrong.”

Presumably, a cock crowed three times after the Texas senator finished.

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13 comments Add your comment

CopyRight

May 29th, 2009
12:16 pm

About a year ago the lib wh*res in the media, like Big Jim, were going around saying that Limbaugh was old news and made no national impact. Now they are as obsessed with Rush as they were and are with Palin. You libs fear Rush, Newt, Palin, and whomever may speak out against The Obama. Hey Jimbo, even with your considerable heft, we can still see through you. I guess The Obama and his hangers-on cannot handle any heat? Right?

Keith

May 29th, 2009
12:54 pm

Cornyn is typical of the inside the beltway bunch that doesn’t have a clue what’s happening out in flyover country. Crist is not a conservative. We don’t need any more Arlen Spectres or Olympia Snows.

Jim Callihan

May 29th, 2009
1:45 pm

As if groups like “ACORN” aren’t rife with dissent and disgust among it’s own members? You can face the truth or stick to your false ones, but people all over the country are FED UP with “business as usual”/the “corrupt political machine(s)”. “Sun-bed-tan Charlie” is part of that machine – Rubio is not.

Here’s a FACT for you: since the last election, both “major parties” have seen considerable losses/defection to “independent” voter registration – which is now the number one voting block in America.

DID YOU GET THAT? I hope you did; “business as usual” is coming to an end. McCain v Obama? NO DIFFERENCE. Anyone who thinks that even one policy would have changed if McCain won is still caught up in the delusion. Fortunately, Dems & Repubs are waking up to the “bi-partisan screwing”. Beware the coming PURPLE STATE!

herbK

May 29th, 2009
3:17 pm

wow, callihan is right. Both the democraps & repukelicans are pathetic in there ability to solve problems. How about we dismantle government, starting at the local level, move to the state level,
and finally to the federal level and tell them they are no longer needed? We’ll fix it on our own.

Tom From Bama

May 29th, 2009
4:23 pm

Jim, I’m not a regular reader of your column – this is the first one I’ve encountered, and I’m not an articulate writer – so please bear with my awkward attempt to express myself!

First off, I’m not a Baptist, but – respectfully – I think you make a great analogy, but draw a 100% wrong conclusion from it. Yes, the SBC was at a crossroads some years back and the more conservative branch won the day. Yes, the SBC, isn’t growing.

BUT: compare the SBC to the other mainline Protestant denominations in which the liberal voices prevailed. The SBC are down-right thriving compared to the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, etc..

Following the analogy, the GOP is at the same crossroads – but the beltway insiders like Cornyn, McCain, Snow, etc. are telling us to follow the path of the Episcopalians – abandon our core principles (in the case of the GOP – conservatism), continue to act like the “Liberal-Lite” party, and hope it makes liberals hate us less.

In the 2006 mid-term elections, and again last November we saw the inevitable results of that strategy.

On definition of insanity is to repeat the same behavior and expect a different result. Mr. Cornyn is advocating the same lame strategy that got the GOP into the sorry state its reached today. Is it a coincidence that the last Republican Speaker to successfully unseat a Democratic House majority is advocating the exact opposite strategy?

The Snark

May 29th, 2009
4:26 pm

herbK has demonstrated the ultimate destination of the know-nothing right wing: anarchy.

herbK

May 29th, 2009
6:50 pm

And once again folks, The Snark has display his lack of intelligence, his lack of perspective and continues to exemplify the fact that he has no message, meaning: Snark=Moron.

Owl Gore

May 29th, 2009
6:59 pm

Snark=Moron=lib hack koolaid drinker.

The AMAZING GodHatesTrash, Superstar

May 30th, 2009
1:36 pm

Those Southron Baptists and their burning crosses of Jesus. They’re animals, for gawd’s sake.

William H. in Lithonia

June 1st, 2009
6:18 am

Religious bigots have been the thorn in the side of this country since it’s founding. Compromising with Religious bigots are the reason we incorporated slavery into the constitution. They preached slavery was gods will because it was in their bible.

Religious bigots fought the most deadly war in American history to hold onto their right to slavery.

Religious bigots passed the disenfranchisement laws after they lost the Civil War to take away the rights of the minorities to vote. The draconian Drug Laws and Immigration Laws are still with us today with around 1 million people today in Georgia without the right to vote either because they are in jail, on probation or parole, or they don’t have the proper papers to document their right to be in this Religious Bigots city on a hill.

Religious bigots preached it was their god’s will to enforce segregation laws and lynching laws.

Religious bigots deny the rights of people to get married if it doesn’t fit their bigoted definition of marriage. Religious bigots previously codemned homosexuals to insane asylems.

Religious bigots claim to be pro-life, yet they would rather people die than for us to organize our government to provide ever more expensive health care to those in need.

Religious bigots killed Jesus Christ when they claimed He committed blasphemy – when it was the Religious Bigots who were committing the blasphemy by killing Him.

Religious bigots are now justifying the use of torture and denying fair trials to those who they seek to torture.

I think Religious bigots are erring on the wrong side of right and wrong and pursuing a ministry of death and not one of life.

Religious Bigots have perverted the Bible to justify all types of violence and to deny human rights.

Ezekiel 49:50 The Sin of Sodom was arrogant (supremist) pride and they did not lift the hand of the poor and needy.

Religious Bigots are traitors to this country, to humanity, and to the God they claim to be committing their violence in the name of.

William H. in Lithonia

June 1st, 2009
6:24 am

correction:
Ezekiel 16:49 states the Sin of Sodom was arrogant pride and not lifting the hand of the poor and needy.

There are two types of Pride: Haughty and Healthy.

Haughty Pride is the unreasonable opinion in one’s superiority over others. Religious Bigots are unreasonable, intolerant and prejudice and have one thing in common: They believe they are justified in denying human rights to those who don’t live up to their definitions – never mind relgious bigots don’t live up to those definitions either.

Healthy Pride: A reasonable opinion of one’s self in relation to others.
Equal unalienable human Rights.

William H. in Lithonia

June 1st, 2009
6:27 am

Just imagine how much better life would be if these KKK religious bigots weren’t constantly dragging us all down to their Dark Age Ignorance and Violence.

Vermont Neighbor

June 6th, 2009
9:31 pm

William H. in Lithonia,

Your posts are informative and illuminating. I see the problem in a parallel setting: Barack OBAMA is a religious bigot, albiet with a smooth demeanor. His presidential campaign and former church, his ex preacher, his wife and the undeniable bias shown this week toward Muslims is disturbing and divisive. I do not see how you can excuse one form of zealotry, especially when the person hid their true motives in a transparent quest for power. Dishonesty is the only thing transparent about this man.