Among the many publications distributed at Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference in April were two booklets examining Democratic and Republican party platforms. They were produced by Justice at the Gate, a group that describes its vision as “Building strategic partnerships to mobilize Christians to pray effectively and to vote righteously.”
The two publications are both titled “Democrats & Republicans In Their Own Words.” One of them is subtitled, “National Party Platforms on Specific Biblical Issues.” I’m not sure where in the Bible they find school prayer and “school choice and faith-based education,” but those are listed as biblical issues, along with abortion and homosexuality. This booklet includes side-by-side excerpts from party platforms between 1976 and 2000. Other notable issues covered in the Bible, such as poverty, are nowhere to be found.
The other “In Their Own Words” booklet features an African American couple with a young child on the front cover. It is subtitled, “A 124-Year History of Major Civil Rights Efforts Based on a Side-by-Side Comparison of the Early Platforms of the Two Major Political Parties.” Apparently, racial justice and civil rights do not count as “biblical issues,” since they aren’t mentioned in the other publication. The side-by-side comparison in this booklet goes back to old anti-abolitionist planks in Democratic platforms from the 1840s, before the Republican Party was even formed. The booklet takes 13 pages before it even gets to the 20th Century — and that part of the booklet, which focuses on Southern Democrats’ support for segregation, stops in 1964.
In other words, this supposed history of racial justice and the political parties finds no room for a discussion of the Republican Party’s post-civil-rights-era southern strategy, which built power by fomenting racial resentment among southern whites, or for any of the political parties’ positions on racial justice and civil rights over the past 50 years.
Why does that sound so familiar? The answer lies inside the front cover: “Historical footnotes and annotations by David Barton, President of WallBuilders.” Barton has been peddling the notion that Republicans are civil rights heroes for more than a decade. He made the same kind of distorted and truncated history the centerpiece of his 2006 DVD, “Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black and White,” and in the outreach he has done to African Americans on behalf of the GOP. (For those just joining us, Barton is a right-wing “historian” whose book on Jefferson was disavowed by its publisher last year after complaints about its inaccuracies.)
Who or what is Justice at the Gate? It’s a vehicle for Alice Patterson, who is among the Religious Right leaders hoping that the right kind of outreach will get African American Christians to start voting more conservatively. Patterson is an “apostle” affiliated with the dominionist New Apostolic Reformation who believes the Democratic Party is controlled by demons. Her mission has been described as bringing NAR’s views into government, which is why she organized The Response, the dominionist-heavy prayer rally that was supposed to launch Rick Perry into the White House.