Friday, July 28, 2006

GOP Staffer Canned

As you may or may not be aware, the Ohio Restoration Project is a real piece of work. If you ever need to cite an example of why lefties tend to loathe the Christofacist arm of conservative politics, look no further.

Bill Moyers, in his usual eloquence:

Let's take a brief detour to Ohio and I'll show you what I am talking about. In recent weeks a movement called the Ohio Restoration Project has been launched to identify and train thousands of "Patriot Pastors" to get out the conservative religious vote next year. According to press reports, the leader of the movement - the senior pastor of a large church in suburban Columbus - casts the 2006 elections as an apocalyptic clash between "the forces of righteousness and the hordes of hell." The fear and loathing in his message is palpable: He denounces public schools that won't teach creationism, require teachers to read the Bible in class, or allow children to pray. He rails against the "secular jihadists" who have "hijacked" America and prevent school kids from learning that Hitler was "an avid evolutionist." He links abortion to children who murder their parents. He blasts the "pagan left" for trying to redefine marriage. He declares that "homosexual rights" will bring "a flood of demonic oppression." On his church website you read that "Reclaiming the teaching of our Christian heritage among America's youth is paramount to a sense of national destiny that God has invested into this nation."

The folks at Street Prophets have been keeping an eye on these wackos, so be sure to check out some of their entries if you're getting up to speed.

Beyond the sport of oggling at wingnuts, their existence is politically relevant due to their near orgiastic support of Ken Blackwell, Ohio gubernatorial candidate. And, as you're surely aware, Ken Blackwell is inextricably linked to the sickening array of voting problems in Ohio surrounding the 2004 Presidential election.

So, today, I'm skimming headlines and come across this from Raw Story:

COLUMBUS - The Ohio Republican Party fired a staffer Thursday for sending inflammatory e-mails about Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland that Democrats labeled "gutter politics."

The messages, sent to GOP supporters, questioned Strickland's ministerial credentials, his toughness on child predators and his and his wife's sexual orientation.

Gary Lankford, a Christian school headmaster and former director of the Ohio Restoration Project, was let go over the postings, said Jason Mauk, the state party's political director.

The party hired Lankford to coordinate the GOP's outreach to social conservative groups. Ohioans for Ken Blackwell, the campaign of Strickland's GOP opponent in the Nov. 7 election, paid him $15,000 during the primary for "voter contact," state records show.

Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett said Thursday he did not see Lankford's e-mails before they went out and that they crossed the line.

"I will not tolerate anything like that. That's not how I run the party," Bennett said. "Unfortunately, I was a little slow to react to this."

Democrats, who said they first learned of the messages through news reports, blasted Lankford's postings, which he encouraged recipients to forward to others.

"This is the worst kind of innuendo and gutter politics, like you used to see in the 19th century. It's sleazy," said Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the Ohio Democratic Party.

Strickland called the firing appropriate.

"I would like to be able to take Mr. Bennett at his word when he says we ought to focus on the issues that are important to Ohio," he said. "That's what I've been doing my entire campaign."

He said the party should have been wary of Lankford, who had worked for the Blackwell campaign and the Restoration Project, a politically active, conservative Christian group. "He was not an unknown quantity," Strickland said. [Emphasis mine]

"Not an unknown quantity". Of course he wasn't. And I can't think of a single liberal that will be at all surprised that tactics such as these spring so easily from the loins of the ORP (or the GOP, for that matter).

Which leads me to wonder --

Given what we've seen from the neo-con religious right, when the FUCK are we going to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to ANY blowhard that claims to be a Christian? You know what? The legitimately pious people I've met in my life very rarely volunteer their religious affiliation, and instead, demonstrate what they believe by what they DO.

Since when did this kind of metric become passe? And worse, who the hell is falling for it? Not the religious people whose blogs/articles I read. They recognize shit when it's piled up and steaming at their feet.

One can only conclude that the voters supporting groups like the ORP are the worst kind of "Christians". You know, the kind that treat Sunday services like cocktail hour at a country club, who claim affiliation with no more gravity than that awarded to brands of peanut butter, and who cherry pick their way through the Bible looking for tools with which to oppress anyone they don't like.

This is hardly a ground-breaking analysis of far too many "values-voters" in this country. However, the assumptions we make about so-called Christians in politics is in virtual opposition to how they ACTUALLY BEHAVE. And yet, we see stories like that referenced in Raw Story, in which it's actually "news" when these ratfuckers reveal themselves for what they actually are.

If we're at all serious about throwing off the yoke of neocon fundamentalism in this country, how about refusing to assume that anyone claiming to be a "Christian" is automatically a good guy? How about assigning their religious affiliation no more significance that their hair color and get on with watching what they do and what they say?

These despicable people are only as powerful as we let them become, since we're the ones swallowing their bullshit with nary a blink. Wake up, people.

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