The Family Research Council is launching a project aimed at convincing its supporters before the 2008 election that liberal politicians “are spouting God-talk” in order to “confuse people of faith” and hide their “true agenda.” Invoking the Religious Right’s recent favored phrase for its imagined constituency – as well as the “Swift Boat” campaign of 2004 – the so-called “Values Voters for Truth” campaign is an attempt to vilify liberals – and, obviously, Democratic candidates – as enemies of Christianity who are undertaking a conspiracy to “deceive and split values voters.” From a recent fundraising letter from FRC Action:
Our relentless effort to reveal the facts about the Left’s true agenda is already under way. It will not stop until the last vote of the 2008 election has been cast. The Values Voters for Truth campaign will partner with organizations in all 50 states—and at the national level. We will mobilize values voters, engage them in the war of ideas, and keep them informed and involved.
We will rally churches to the cause. And by God’s grace, we will neutralize our opponents’ deceptive tactics.
As an example of this supposed “fraud,” the letter cites a Democratic presidential candidate who spoke of his “belief in Christ” and also supports civil unions for gay couples. Similarly, the letter warns that a candidate noting a “biblical call to feed the hungry” also voted against an anti-abortion bill. A third candidate is denounced for the “hypocrisy” of wanting to let gay couples adopt children. According to FRC, these supposed contradictions indicate that Democrats discussing their faith and values is merely “lip service,” part of a “campaign of deception” that led directly to the Democrats winning control of Congress in the 2006 elections.
FRC’s tactic of trying to claim “values” and “faith” as Religious Right-only attributes is hardly new – it was the driving force behind the group’s “Values Voter Summit” last year, organized before the elections to encourage a disillusioned base to turn out for Republicans. It is also the premise behind cries of “anti-Christian persecution,” such as at the “War on Christians” conference, at FRC’s “Justice Sunday” events (in which opposition to right-wing judicial nominees was presented as an attack on “people of faith”), and with “Patriot Pastor” political machines that warn of the “forces of darkness” trying to “deny America’s Godly heritage.”
And as political candidates are finding their way around the Religious Right’s exclusionary façade, right-wing activists have brought the tactic to the 2008 campaign trail, denouncing a June forum of presidential candidates on “Faith, Values, and Poverty” as a “conspir[acy] to create a fictional class of Christians — so-called ‘liberal evangelicals,’” as Rob Schenck of the National Clergy Council, who protested the event, put it. “Liberals have no trouble believing in God – or a faith belief system – as long as He marches to their drum,” claimed Jane Chastain. Columnist and former Moral Majority lieutenant Cal Thomas wrote that the candidates “gave no indication that if their faith ever conflicted with their political point of view they would choose what their faith taught them over what focus groups tell them.”
According to Gary Bauer, “religious voters” don’t credit these Democratic candidates because, for them, “the traditional cultural issues are pivotal.” But while religious-right activists continue to claim that their wedge issues – primarily abortion and gay marriage – determine the way “values voters” vote, that’s not the case, as a 2006 survey by PFAW Foundation’s Center for American Values in Public Life showed. Only 5 percent of Americans – and just 10 percent of Evangelicals – chose those issues as most important in deciding their votes. Abortion and gay marriage also ranked last when people were asked what “voting their values” meant – in spite of the Religious Right’s campaign to convince them otherwise.
Here’s more from FRC’s letter describing its “Values Voters for Truth” project:
Just three short years ago, you and others like you sent the politicians in Washington an unmistakable message.
You took a stand for traditional marriage—and against the homosexual agenda. You told the secularists that you treasure America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and biblically based values. You reminded those in authority of the higher power that has guided and blessed us since our founding … that America is still one nation under God!
The good news is, you got their attention.
With their disastrous defeat in the 2004 elections, liberals were finally forced to confront a cold, hard fact—their long history of hostility toward Christians and other people of faith was costing them dearly at the polls. So they set out to solve the “problem” of what they call “religion right in politics” [sic]—meaning socially conservative ideals.
Leaders on the Left knew they couldn’t change their radical views and still appeal to the homosexuals and the abortion crowd. So instead they decided to hijack the language of faith in order to hide the truth about their real agenda.
By the time the 2006 elections rolled around, even the most liberal congressional candidates began sounding like “God and country” conservatives. The strategy worked—the Left’s smooth talk fooled just enough values voters to put them in control of both the House and Senate.
[… O]f course, FRC Action—the legislative action arm of Family Research Council—is not sitting idly by while the American public is fooled.
We’re launching the Values Voters for Truth campaign, a nationwide initiative to expose liberal “values” hypocrisy, education the public and politicians about where values voters really stand, and neutralize efforts to deceive people of faith into voting against what they believe. […]
We’ve already started this plan. We’re working relentlessly. And we will work until the last vote of the 2008 election has been cast.