The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

PA churches training right-wing political activists

As long as there's religion, there will be power-hungry religious leaders. That's no big surprise. But the eagerness of some ostensibly Christian leaders to throw their support behind the Bush Republicans is baffling. A ruling party that devotes itself to increasing the gap between rich and poor Americans, cutting healthcare, education and individual freedom isn't the sort of thing one would expect Jesus' fans to support. If only that were a big surprise.

Weeks after theInternal Revenue Service announced a crackdown on political activities by churches and other tax-exempt organizations, a coalition of nonprofit conservative groups is holding training sessions to enlist Pennsylvania pastors in turning out voters for the November elections. (. . .)

The first training session, on March 6 in Valley Forge, included a videotaped message from a single candidate, Senator Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania Republican who faces a difficult re-election fight.

"I encourage you to let your voices be heard from the pulpit" on vital issues, Mr. Santorum said, urging the pastors to champion a proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, according to a recording made by a person at the session. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a liberal group critical of the effort, provided the recording to The New York Times.

After the tape, organizers offered participating pastors copies of the senator's book "It Takes a Family."

Colin A. Hanna, founder of the conservative advocacy group Let Freedom Ring and master of ceremonies, called the book "thoroughly and soundly grounded in Christian doctrine and Scripture as the revealed word of God," according to the recording.

Mr. Hanna described Mr. Santorum's book as a rebuttal to another book, "It Takes a Village," by SenatorHillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, and pointedly said he would not name its author. The session on March 6 attracted 125 members of the clergy, and on Monday, Let Freedom Ring posted a notice on its Web site that the Pennsylvania Pastors Network was hiring 10 full-time organizers to help churches get out the vote, suggesting a sizable and well-financed effort.

Fortunately, the inept and seemingly unstable Santorum is unlikely to win this November. And if he can further turn the public against hate-mongering theocrats, well that's just grand.