I quake as I ponder the questions: Is the Family Research Council genuinely pro-life? Is it even pro-family? Are we witnessing one more case study in which the Religious Right sacrifices principles on the altar of political expediency? Perhaps we’re in a flashback to the 2008 election, when Pat Robertson cynically endorsed pro-choice Republican Rudolph Giuliani for president despite his checkered history on “family” issues. His reason: Giuliani could beat the Democrats.
I shiver because I’m always leery of second-guessing motives. I’d rather crawl into each other’s skin and discover why we hold our respective views even while we debate. The FRC, a conservative Christian advocacy group spawned by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family in the early 1980’s, worries over western humanity’s eroding sexual morality and opposes abortion on demand. I find common ground on those issues. In my view, however, the organization morphed into another link in the Right’s choke hold on evangelical Christianity. Dobson, along with Jerry Falwell, Robertson, and others, naively saw the Republican Party as God’s tool and muted the church’s independent, prophetic voice, molding a sneer on the back-to-the-Bible movement in the process. The call for social and environmental justice – which rings from the Scriptures just as loudly as family values – was pushed off to evangelical academies and the enclaves surrounding Jim Wallace, Ronald Sider, and Tony Compollo. A potential dialogue with many Roman Catholics, who view abortion through the prism of their church’s progressive social teaching, was muffled.
But I never questioned the FRC’s integrity. Dobson seemed sincere, as did Gary Bauer, one of the organization’s early presidents. Tony Perkins wended his way through Louisiana Republican politics before stepping into its presidency in 2003 – and there’s no scandal in that. He was probably unwise in speaking before a white supremacist group, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Believe it or not, campaigning politicians cram their schedules with so many speaking engagements they barely know where they are. There was no real sign of duplicity or cunning.
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