The gospel and the GOP

July 27, 1998|By Rowland Nethaway

WACO, Texas -- Ronald Reagan's decision to dance with the Christian right now has the Republican Party dancing to a gospel tune. Before Mr. Reagan's advisers decided to mix politics and religion in exchange for votes, the GOP stood primarily for fiscal conservatism, a strong defense and rugged individualism.

Now it difficult to tell the difference between the GOP and Bible-waving televangelists.

Republicans should return to their original values.

Christian fundamentalists have a way of jerking Republican leaders back into line. All it takes is for Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell or one of the their lieutenants to go on television and muse aloud that they may have to withdraw their support unless the GOP lifts its voice with greater gusto in praise of fundamentalist religious issues.

It works. Republicans have been indistinguishable from slick-haired televangelists who foment on abortion, sex education and the godless Supreme Court that kicked Jesus out of public schools.

Recently Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott sang from the fundamentalist hymnal when he compared homosexuality with kleptomania, alcoholism and the addiction to drugs or sex.

Agreement on homosexuality

Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey agreed with Mr. Lott. He called homosexuality a sin.

Sin is a religious issue. It is defined as an offense against God. Fundamentalists and the GOP leaders may believe that homosexuality is a sin, but not all religious people come to that faith-based conclusion.

The beauty of the U.S. Constitution's provision to keep government out of religion and vice versa is that different religious groups can practice their beliefs without interference from the state or other religious groups.

Americans have an equal right to reject all religions.

The Christian Coalition and other Christian evangelicals want an America in their own image. They have that right. But most Americans are not fundamentalists and have no desire to change their religious orientation.

Media campaign

A coalition of Christian fundamentalists has launched a national campaign to turn homosexuals away from sin. One newspaper ad taken out in the $200,000 Christian Coalition-Family Research Council media campaign mentions Mr. Lott's remarks about the sin of homosexuality. The ad concludes: "If you really love someone, you'll tell them the truth."

The "truth" the ads suggest is "the truth about the nongenetic roots of homosexuality."

One of the truths not mentioned in the Christian fundamentalist campaign or by the GOP deacons is that the two "ex-gay" co-founders of Exodus International Michael Bussee and Gary Cooper left the group when they fell in love and got married, according to published reports.

Another overlooked truth is the growing body of scientific evidence that homosexuality is an inherited condition caused by a "gay gene."

That doesn't mean that Christian fundamentalists can't continue to have a faith-based religious belief that homosexuality is a sin. But it does make GOP leaders look foolish to condemn what appears to be genetically determined condition unless they want to condemn Ronald Reason for the Alzheimer's disease that causes him to not remember how he is responsible for the Christian fundamentalist influence over his party.

Rowland Nethaway is senior editor of the Waco (Texas) Tribune-Herald. His E-mail address is

Pub Date: 7/27/98

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