Following their 2012 election debacle, the Republican National Committee and the College Republicans issued reports which urged the party to go through an image makeover without adjusting its political stances. Essentially, they argued, the party should only appear to be changing and becoming more open-minded, empathetic and welcoming.
Speaking with David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network posted today, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus confirmed that the party will try to reach out to groups like gays and lesbians by simply appearing to be more respectful without actually changing its views on issues such as marriage equality.
After Brody said conservative evangelical voters are nervous that the GOP thinks “we have to be more tolerant,” Priebus said there is nothing to worry about. “I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction,” the party chairman said.
“It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes – like our moms used to tell us – it’s how you say it. And I think that’s really the issue. And quite frankly, I think some of that has been overblown.”
Priebus assured Brody that the GOP will continue to represent “things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians” and recognize that “there’s only one sovereign God.”
Brody: I want to talk to you about this way forward for the GOP. When you use that word ‘intolerant,’ ‘you know we have to be more tolerant’ in what the RNC put out. Evangelicals start to grab the Excedrin bottles when they hear ‘tolerance’ because they think ‘oh no the GOP is changing and the whole gay marriage situation.’ Why don’t you address this and maybe put evangelicals at ease or can you put them at ease at all here?
Priebus: Well, one hundred percent. I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction. I happen to believe that our principles are sound. I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversial at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language, that’s the New Testament, so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking within our party. That’s all I’ve said. It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes like our moms used to tell us, it’s how you say it; and I think that’s really the issue and quite frankly I think some of that has been overblown. I’m happy to address it but clearly myself and our party haven’t changed on those principles.
Priebus: Looking at the evidence, what you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God and that we ultimately aren’t dependent on what happens in politics, that that ultimately matters in our lives is that we’re salt and light in the world and that we’re honoring God in the things that we do every day. I get that. I think our party gets that and there’s never been a movement away from that. So ‘tolerance,’ maybe some people use that word, what I would tell you, when I think about it, I think about grace, I think about love, I think about respect, and I think those are things that are very square with our beliefs as Christians.