If Bill Clinton died in a car crash, Rush Limbaugh would joke about it, in his merry way, and win praise for his wit from Pat Robertson. On the other hand, those of us who aren’t members of the Religious Right consider it unseemly to laugh at others’ misfortune. Ah, but iron restraint is required to suppress snickers at the multiple embarrassments suffered by the Religious Right itself and its subsidiary, the Republican Party.
The ever-so-Reverend Ted Haggard is the latest fallen angel of the Religious/Republican coalition, exposed as a raging hypocrite of the sort that Jesus Christ denounced as vigorously as Brother Haggard has denounced gay marriage and homosexuality. As leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims 30 million members, and of a mega-church that claims 14,000 members, Haggard has been closely attended by the Bush administration and the Republican Congress.
He’s now been exposed as what one commentator calls “a meth-crazed sodomite,” caught with his scripture down, like so many others in the movement. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who’d campaigned against gay marriage, resigned after he was found writing mash notes to teen-age male pages, confessing that he felt affection for them and would feel even more if they’d slip out of their clothing. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker, two more televangelists who thundered against other people’s sins, were caught hip-deep in hanky-panky a few years back.
Former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio kept his pants on, as far as we know, but the pockets were filled with payoffs from a crooked Washington lobbyist. Former U.S. Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham of California resigned after admitting his own bribe-taking. Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, a layman who oozed piety like a lustful clergyman and who was the Religious/Republicans’ chief enforcer in Congress, quit the House and has been indicted in Texas on a money-laundering charge.
It appears the only thing the Religious/Republicans consider truly sinful is serving one’s country bravely in wartime. Haggard has spoken at the huge First Baptist Church of Springdale in support of a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage. This is the same church that held what amounted to a Sunday-morning political rally for George Bush in the last presidential campaign and whose pastor mocked war hero John Kerry. Former Sen. Max Cleland, who lost several limbs in Vietnam, got the same treatment from a Republican slacker in Georgia. Tammy Duckworth, who left her legs in Iraq and is running for Congress in Illinois as a Democrat, saw her Republican opponent, who’s never served in the military, endorsed by the political action committee of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Right-wing politics is these people’s religion and their patriotism.