If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Pretend to Join ‘Em

With the passing of right-wing luminaries such as Jerry Falwell and D. James Kennedy in recent months, coupled with the aging of many of the Right’s traditional leaders, the movement itself appears to be in flux and some are getting worried about just what will become of it in the future.  Just last week, James Dobson voiced these concerns while addressing the National Religious Broadcasters Convention:

“It causes me to wonder who will be left to carry the banner when this generation of leaders is gone. The question is, will the younger generation heed the call? Who will defend the unborn child in the years to come? Who will plead for the Terri Schiavos of the world? Who’s going to fight for the institution of marriage, which is on the ropes today.”

The emerging conventional wisdom is that the Religious Right is on the verge of being replaced by a “new evangelical” movement that shares the old-guard’s opposition to gays and abortion, but also cares about issues like poverty and the environment.  The standard-bearer of this “new breed” is Mike Huckabee who, as he puts it, drinks “a different kind of Jesus juice” than the traditional leaders and routinely says things like this

I don’t see [the right-wing movement] going into decline. I see it going into a maturing process. I think the issues are going to broaden and force Evangelicals to expand their horizons of concerns to poverty, disease, issues of education and homelessness. These are issues that I think are going to become increasingly important along with the environment as part of an overall focus that you’re going to see from – I would use a broader term – values voters – that would include not only Evangelicals but also Catholics and conservative Jewish voters as well.

Of course, just because a bunch of young upstarts think that caring about the environment is important doesn’t mean that the old-guard has any interest in broadening their agenda.  As we noted last year, when the National Association of Evangelicals started to voice concerns about the environment and global warming, right-wing stalwarts like Dobson, Tony Perkins, Don Wildmon, Gary Bauer, Rick Scarborough, and Paul Weyrich dashed off an angry letter essentially demanding that the NAE fire its own Vice President over it.

The NAE didn’t back down, but the Right didn’t give up.  Instead, they formed their own organization, the American Environmental Coalition, and now seek “to bring balance to the debate by being an alternative source of reliable information to Americans who seek the best way forward for our country.” 

Because if you are looking for “reliable information” on environmental issues, you couldn’t ask for a better group of experts:

# Pat Robertson, The Christian Broadcasting Network

# Paul Weyrich, Free Congress Foundation

# Gary Bauer, American Values

# Jay Sekulow, American Center for Law & Justice

# Rev. Lou Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition

# Rev. Rob Schenck, Faith & Action

# Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform

# Steve Elliott, Grassfire.org

# Amy Ridenour, National Center for Policy Analysis

It appears as if AEC was set-up back in September, with the site being registered to Gary Marx, who, along with being head of the Judicial Confirmation Network, also served on Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. 

While the AEC has, to date, kept a pretty low profile, it appears as if the organization already has one key ally on the Hill – global warming denier Sen. James Inhofe:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, today welcomed a letter signed by leading evangelical and conservative leaders opposing S.2191 – America’s Climate Security Act (Lieberman-Warner). The letter, sent to all 100 U.S. Senators, urges the defeat of climate change legislation which they say would lead to “imperceptible” changes in temperature “while doing grave harm to our economy, the poor, and U.S. competitiveness.”   The letter dispels the myth made by a few on Capitol Hill that people of faith have somehow embraced the more radical climate change proposals.  Over 70 religious leaders, economists, scientists, state legislators and public policy advocates signed the letter.       

“Leading evangelical and conservative leaders made a bold statement by joining together and sending a letter to all 100 Senators outright rejecting the economic wrecking Lieberman-Warner bill,” Senator Inhofe said. “I welcome this letter and encourage each of my colleagues to seriously consider the arguments made by these leading evangelical and conservative leaders. In particular, the letter states their concerns over the severe economic impact on American families as a result of millions of job losses, skyrocketing energy costs, as well as increased price of food, especially on the poor.

“Further, this letter clearly dispels the myth advocated by a few on Capitol Hill that leading evangelicals support Lieberman-Warner.” 

Signatories to the letter include AEC founders Norquist, Weyrich, Sheldon, and Bauer as well as others like Richard Land, Tony Perkins, Ken Blackwell, Roy Innis, Jerome Corsi, and dozens more.

The Religious Right has made no secret of the fact that it opposes efforts to broaden its agenda because it fears that doing so will ultimately distract the movements from his anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda.  But they have apparently concluded that they can’t win that argument and have decided to set-up their own anti-environmental front group instead.

After all, what need is there to be concerned about global warming when it is really just a sign of the Second Coming?