Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 13, 2009

THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT WANTS A NEW NAME.... Prominent fundamentalist Christian leaders with deep ties to the Republican Party have, over the years, generally rejected the notion of being "politically correct." It's ironic, then, that they've decided "religious right" doesn't sound good, and they'd prefer we stop using it.

Gary Bauer said this week, "There is an ongoing battle for the vocabulary of our debate. It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the 'American Taliban,' 'fundamentalists,' 'Christian fascists,' and 'extreme Religious Right.'"

A Focus on the Family official added that the "religious right" label might generate negative impressions: "Terms like 'Religious Right' have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism. The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it."

This is pretty silly. The religious right is an established political movement, and the phrase has been common for decades. I can appreciate the fact that people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and their followers would blanch at labels like "American Taliban," but "religious right" is clearly (and deliberately) bland.

If the movement's leaders believe "religious right" has become synonymous with extremism and hatred, perhaps the movement should be less extreme and hateful. As my friend Kyle explained yesterday:

If the phrase "Religious Right" has negative connotations, it probably stems primarily from the fact that the people who have traditionally represented the Religious Right have caused it to, you know, have negative connotations.

When people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson go on television and blame the 9/11 attacks on "pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, [and] all of them who have tried to secularize America," that is the sort of thing that tends to create negative impressions about the Religious Right.

And even if they were called "socially conservative evangelicals," this type of rhetoric would still create negative impressions about the term "socially conservative evangelicals" ... and then "socially conservative evangelicals" would be telling everyone to stop calling them "socially conservative evangelicals."

Exactly. We're not talking about a branding problem here. These clowns have become publicly reviled because they embrace a radical worldview, starkly at odd with American traditions, laws, and culture.

The innocuous label isn't the problem. The dangerous and divisive agenda is.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (55)

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Comments

Of course with the Orwellien crowd who can never be wrong the first instinct is to change the language.

Instead of, you know, changing the bad behavior.

America is a fad following country, and this Jebus fad is already fading.

Good riddance.

Posted by: SnarkyShark on February 13, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

Ok then, from now on let's just call them Christian Supremacists.

Posted by: Saint Zak on February 13, 2009 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

I appreciate your analysis, but the very people you focus upon can't seemingly understand your words as they leave their understanding of the world to God.

If only the non-believers would stop throwing pejorative labeling around! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 13, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Liberal

Anyone else believe in Karma?

Posted by: BuzzMon on February 13, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

how about the simple elegant term "zealots?" That better? It has a "z," and that's the second-coolest letter there is!

Posted by: slappy magoo on February 13, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

...'socially conservative evangelicals'...

First came the Neo-Cons; then the Neander-Cons. From now on, we can refer to them as "The So-Cons", evil baby-eating creatures from a dimension of anti-reality....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 13, 2009 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

Well, as their precious bible tells them, by their works shall ye know them. (I'm too lazy to look up the exact quote again.) That's a sentiment I can endorse even as an agnostic. There are a few of those in the bible. "Judge not lest ye be judged" for example. Divinity aside, that's pretty good advice for just getting through the day. But for some reason, the things in the bible we should all be able to agree on seem to be the parts the Religious Right has completely missed.

Come to think of it, "Judge not lest ye be judged" applies here too. Pretty clever on someone's part, if not on Someone's...

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on February 13, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

When they and others who disagree with the "Democrat" party begin to show some respect, we may do the same. why should they expect different treatment?

peace,
st john

Posted by: st john on February 13, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

"radical Christianists" is actually pretty accurate--corresponds to "radical Islamists," advocating the imposition of one set of fundamentalist religious views on government policy.

How come nobody ever talks back to these guys, pointing out how stupid this is?

Posted by: jayackroyd on February 13, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

My vote: "Religious Wrong"

Posted by: K on February 13, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

The Religious Wrong?

Posted by: Shag from Brookline on February 13, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

Another idea: "Theocons"

Posted by: K on February 13, 2009 at 9:31 AM | PERMALINK

What Buzz Mon said.

(And I'm proud to call myself a liberal. Wonder why they can't wear their religious rightism with dignity?)

Posted by: shortstop on February 13, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Interesting. Even the religious right is attempting to divorce themselves from the despicable republican brand.

Posted by: Steve on February 13, 2009 at 9:32 AM | PERMALINK

Well, Cotton Mathermouths is a little long.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 13, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

Damn, bert, that was splendid.

Posted by: shortstop on February 13, 2009 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

I finally figured out what my biggest mistake was. I should have changed my name. I should have become George W Oaktree.

Posted by: GWB on February 13, 2009 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

hey, you can slap a new label on that peanut butter, but it's still gonna kill ya!

Posted by: Bruce K on February 13, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Let's see. These allegedly religious conservatives and Bible literalists follow the teachings of a man who told them not to get involved in politics ("Render unto Caesar, .... My kingdom is not of this world." Etc.). They get virulently involved in politics. Now they wonder what went wrong. They should read in their book more, especially Matthew 23:13 -14 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.

15 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and then you make that convert twice as much a child of hell as you are.

16 "Woe to you, blind guides!
Dopes.

Posted by: Greg Worley on February 13, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

"CLeft Behinds."

Posted by: trex on February 13, 2009 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

The phrase lipstick on a pig comes to mind.
But if you're seen as a pig, and a tube of lipstick is all you have, what else can you do?

Posted by: JoeW on February 13, 2009 at 9:50 AM | PERMALINK

the "religious right" or the "socially conservative evangelicals" just need to join a party that is perfect for them -- the American Heritage Party

"The American Heritage Party formed to provide an explicitly Christian perspective on politics."
http://www.americanheritageparty.org/

Posted by: peggy on February 13, 2009 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

One Word: Hypocrites

Posted by: st john on February 13, 2009 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

A RW religious whackjob by another name would be just as insane.

Posted by: Former Dan on February 13, 2009 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

How about The Superstitious Right?

Also, does this mean they'll stop using pejoratives to describe Liberals? Like: Baby Killers, Socialists, Feminazis, Lib'ruls, etc.?

Posted by: Chrenson on February 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

God Squad

Posted by: tom on February 13, 2009 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

It will be something sounding relatively innocuous, like 'Christian Perspectivists' (thanks, peggy) but still lead by the same group of faith-based paranoiacs and snake oil salesmen.

Posted by: grape_crush on February 13, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Bible-thumping inbreeders?

Blessed are those who don't have a clue,
their faith never falters, so it has to be true.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on February 13, 2009 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

OK, we'll just call them Talibangelists from here on out.

Posted by: Varecia on February 13, 2009 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

If they don't want to be called Christian fascists they ought to stop advocating theocracy.

Posted by: oddjob on February 13, 2009 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

"Talibangelists" says it all, although I also rather like "Christian fascists', which I hadn't considered before they mentioned it.

(or maybe Jesu-twits?)

Posted by: N.Wells on February 13, 2009 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

For me at least the words "Religious Right" and "Evangelical" are right down there with "Facist", "Nazi", and "Klan." They all evoke fear and loathing.

I would note that I don't have the same visceral discomfort with the words "Republican" and "Conservative" because, I do still beleive that one can be fundamentally decent while self-identifying as Republican or conservative.

Evilangelicals on the other hand don't seem to have any redeeming qualities.

Posted by: Winkanadnod on February 13, 2009 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Why not just call them all the Ted Haggards? It flows easier than the Bigoted, Hateful, Self Righteous, Hypocritical Busybodies.

Posted by: Capt Kirk on February 13, 2009 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

These are the same folks who've worked hard for 30 years, with considerable success, to make "liberal" an epithet. Now, apparently the shoe's on the other foot. Suck it up, bitches.

Posted by: Andy on February 13, 2009 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Let's go for consistency in naming: there are Islamists and there are Christanists.

Posted by: SRW1 on February 13, 2009 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if we're missing the point here. Could this rebranding effort be a shot across the bow of conservative elected officials?

This looks to me like an internal power struggle; the crack is widening and the religious conservatives are essentially telling the GOP, 'We're not with you anymore.'

Posted by: doubtful on February 13, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Let's go for terse.

Kurt Vonnegut once pointed out that one particularly puckered-looking ASCII character was the appropriate symbol for any of these latter-day Pharisees.

*

Posted by: joel hanes on February 13, 2009 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Freakazoids.

They are freakazoids.

They worked for that name, they earned that name, they own that name.

Freakazoids.

Stupid Fuckers.

Posted by: Yellow Dog on February 13, 2009 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

Pharisees.

Posted by: pbg on February 13, 2009 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Call them what they are - Christian Capitalists! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on February 13, 2009 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Fundamentalists is perjorative? Since when? It's what they used to call themselves before the term became so aptly associated with The Crazy.

Oh, dear, now Amy Sullivan will concern-troll us about our lack of respect for thee jackasses. (It isn't Steve's fault, but WaMo lost a hell of a lot of credibility posting her poorly-argued whinging.)

Posted by: Gregory on February 13, 2009 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, dear man, at the risk of being labeled a "troll", I would argue that because of some of the issues Amy has written about, a whole host of people better understand these folks. Whether you hold them in contempt is not the point. We all hold the Taliban in contempt but that does not preclude us from reading what they say, their "poorly-argued whinging", their fantasies etc. to learn about them to better overcome whatever it is we detest. To take the attitude you know everything there is to know already and need to hear no more is rather Bushian.

It says a whole lot that the likes of Bauer, et al. are feeling the heat to need to change labels. That says to me that the rank and file, average joe evangelical, who doesn't much get involved in politics is balking at what their leaders are doing in their names. Most folks go to church for the faith part to help them cope with the hard reality of their lives not the political warfare part.

It is sort of like how we all got lied to and lead into a war and we are all paying dearly for it with blood and treasure now. And average folks are getting damned tired of it. I'd bet that is a fair assessment of what is transpiring within Church World with their cultural wars. Nobody wants to be funding someone else's war when they have their own larger issues to cope with. The ground is shaking underneath the fundie leaders and maybe we can get some lightening strikes from above too. Patience, man.

That said, I am greatly enjoying the above suggestions. I especially liked CottonMathermouths (for the snake allusion). Even more so, I am greatly enjoying knowing that the Money Changers are being thrown out of the proverbial temple and that the great unwashed silent majority is awakening in a very bad mood.

Posted by: Nobody Special on February 13, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

"Freaked out zeroes"?

Posted by: alan on February 13, 2009 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Ever noticed how Rush Limbaugh's face looks like a used condom?

How about "used condomens"?

Posted by: alan on February 13, 2009 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

How about "whitened sepulchres"?

Posted by: kgb on February 13, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Hysterical Pseudo-Christian Fascists" has gotten the point across for me for years now.

Posted by: Keori on February 13, 2009 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Keori, I've been calling them Christofascists for some time now.

Posted by: mcmama on February 13, 2009 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

"It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the 'American Taliban,' 'fundamentalists,' 'Christian fascists,' and 'extreme Religious Right.'"

It amazes him that people use factually correct terms. It also amazes the man that things like science exist, so evidently he is really really easy to amaze - I imagine you could do it with a feather and a string.

Posted by: Phalamir on February 13, 2009 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a secretary. Some prefer to be called assistants. It's the same damn job.

Posted by: bobbo on February 13, 2009 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

American Taliban.

Batshit Crazy Fundamentalists.

Blame America Firsters.

Total Fucking Assholes.

Closeted Sexual Deviants.

Posted by: ed on February 13, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

On "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" the shows representation of the KKK changed their organizations name to the "Glorious, Guardians of Good" because, "we are glorious and we guard the nation and who can say anothing bad about 'good'."

Personally I think the religious right should change their name to the Conservative Corporate Christian because they are conservative, they tend to cater to corporate interests, and they are Christian. The CCC has a ring, and people might confuse it with the works of the old CCC giving them good PR.

Posted by: Kurt on February 13, 2009 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Re-branding and semantic name changes are a clear sign of a political movement in decline -- or at the very least in very deep trouble. It's the right wing version of the "L-word" problem.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 13, 2009 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

"Christian populists" is fair and accurate: they believe, as all populists do, that local majorities ought to be allowed to impose their will and values upon unwilling minorities; in their case, if a majority in a political unit of whatever size wants to adopt Christian fundamentalism as a quasi-official religion, any Catholics, Jews, Muslims, agnostics living in that place can go Cheney themselves.

And if 'populism' itself became less reputable by the association, that would be fine with me, too.

Posted by: kth on February 13, 2009 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I'll stop calling them "the religious right" once those right-wing punks stop perverting the word "family" for their hateful goals.

Oh, and kth, I don't like the term "Christian populists." It gives populism -- which by itself isn't inherently evil -- a bad name.

Posted by: Vincent on February 13, 2009 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

If only "Xe" weren't already taken....

Posted by: fs on February 14, 2009 at 1:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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