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Thursday, March 09, 2006

O'Reilly Referees Christian Right Fight

... Meanwhile, the controversy surrounding Mr. Reed continues to create tension for other evangelical leaders. E-mails released by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee indicate Mr. Reed told Mr. Abramoff that he would solicit anti-gambling help from big-name evangelicals including James Dobson and Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family. Days later, each wrote letters to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, protesting the opening of a casino in Louisiana.

In a Feb. 6, 2001, e-mail, Mr. Abramoff asked whether Mr. Reed "can get Dobson on the radio" to criticize Republican Haley Barbour for supporting the new casino's opening. Mr. Reed replied: "yes. there's a history there." Mr. Abramoff replied: "Let me know when Dobson hits him. I want to savor it." On Feb. 19, Mr. Reed assured Mr. Abramoff: "we're negotiating that now. don't have a green light yet, but they are very interested." ...
Focus on Finances

Via Max Blumenthal on Huffington Post comes a walk through the Christian right, with Ralph Reed all tied together with Jack Abramoff, which has brought some fresh hell to Dr. Dobson of Focus on the Family. But it's really all about Ralph Reed right now. Get ready for a ride, especially since the "big giant head," to quote Keith Olbermann, has decided to play referee.

Last night on "The Factor," the first guest up was none other than Dr. Dobson. You might remember the good doctor from Samuel Alito's recent thank you note, or maybe it's his non-stop jihad on all things post 18th century. Well, last night Bill O'Reilly offered Dobson an opportunity to answer charges from a group called DefCon, whose cause is "Campaign to Defend the Constitution Because the Religious Right is Wrong." Amen.

Dobson was in a near tizzy over the implication that he had anything whatsoever to do with Ralph Reed's current troubles that extend across the south, compliments of his religious right hypocrisy. As a renegade member of the "frozen chosen" I'm all ears when hypocrisy hits the news.

Tonight, O'Reilly is supposed to have people on from DefCon, in an effort to be "fair and balanced," so we'll see what evolves. One thing is clear is that the quiet problems of Ralph Reed and his connection with Jack Abramoff, as well as Dobson's involvement, have put a spotlight on a growing rift in the Republican religious right. That's the story Blumenthal lays out for us all.

Enter Marvin Olasky, the guy who coined "compassionate conservatism" back when Bush was governor. Olasky's the one who also created Bush's Faith Based Initiative program, once he hit the White House. Well, now Olasky is miffed and coming after the people in the Christian right who are tangled up with Abramoff. Olasky's World Magazine, one of the largest evangelical mags around, recently took out straight for Ralph Reed, with some blowback hitting the estimable James Dobson and his Focus on the Family. From one evangelical to another, can you feel the love, baby?

So what does this all mean?

Olasky's World is saying that corrupt evangelicals have to stand up, admit their wrongs, then do penance. It doesn't matter if you're Republicans or not, because if you're involved in illegal actions you're simply not doing God's work, which is the bottom line. But now Olasky, The World and his reporter are getting heat from Dobson and the Christian right, with O'Reilly now aiding their cause on Fox.

As every regular reader of my blog knows, the thing that truly bothers me about the right is their stranglehold on terrestrial radio, which I've been involved in for a long time. It starts with Rush and Sean, but gets really serious as it spreads into Christian broadcasting, all of which have a line to Armed Forces Radio. Progressives just got on AFR in late 2005! That's why Jane and Glenn's Roots Project, along with Mike Stark's work, are so important. Though obviously they're working in a parallel frame to mine, it's all connected to getting the grass roots active.

Well, Dobson ran right to radio when The World and Olasky's reporter came after him. Nice to have that built in network, isn't it?

"They [World] have a reporter who wanted me to dump on ralph reed because of Jack Abramoff. I wouldn't do it. So in the story they wrote, the made it seem like I was covering up for Ralph. they terribly misused the interview I gave them, and in the letter I wrote them, I tried to set the record straight. They refused to print it. So maybe I'm overreacting. But it is tough when your friends criticize you for something that shouldn't be."
via Max Blumenthal

But now not only does Olasky have to fight Dobson and his radio roots, but O'Reilly has given him another boost through Fox. Talk about media mafia.

But Olasky and The World aren't backing down.

If Reed had been transparent, he would have faced disagreement but would not now be facing disgrace. He has shamed the evangelical community by providing evidence for the generally-untrue stereotype that evangelicals are easily-manipulated and that evangelical leaders are using moral issues to line their own pockets.

The Ralph Reed Scandal

The issue comes down to hypocrisy. You don't get to play Christian, preening about your piety publicly, while gaming the odds and stiffing the notion of integrity privately, or at least you shouldn't. You don't get to have a "golden boy" image like Ralph Reed's, when you're actually doing the work of the devil by double crossing the people who put their faith in you.

Reed needs to pay for his hypocrisy through exposure, then pay for his crimes if there are any. That another branch of the evangelical movement is holding him to account, while simultaneously driving a stake through his image is not only ironic, it's political justice of a holy order.

Just imagine the Republican Party with a Christian right out of favor and out of power, because their pulpit politicians have been made to do a moral, if not actual, perp walk. Now hold that picture as a visualization.

cross-posted at Taylor Marsh
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this story, found here.