The Changing Political Landscape
Political Advocacy Tracker is a roundup of what Christian activist organizations have been talking about this week.
Activists saw the political terrain shift in 2010, and as a result, political advocacy groups will likely need to change strategies next year. Here are six events from the past year that are likely to continue to shape politics in 2011.
6. The Line Between Debate and Hate
Next year, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) will list 13 "anti-gay" groups as "Hate Groups." The SPLC said that these groups use propaganda; it does not list groups simply for believing that homosexuality in unbiblical. While some groups listed might be considered extreme and incendiary, others are considered mainstream groups within conservatism. The SPLC designations included the Family Research Council (FRC), American Family Association (AFA), and Traditional Values Coalition (TVC). The SPLC stopped short of lableing Concerned Women for America (CWA), Coral Ridge Ministries, and The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) as hate groups, but it did list them as anti-gay groups that use propaganda.
SPLC's Mark Potok debated FRC president Tony Perkins on the hate group designation during Monday's Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. Potok said one reason for the FRC designation was Peter Sprigg's statement in February that homosexual behavior should be outlawed. Perkins responded by saying that Sprigg was referring to the FRC's position in 2003 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence and Garner v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. Perkins said the FRC is not currently working to criminalize homosexuality.
5. Who Does Bryan Fischer Represent?
Bryan Fischer is an analyst, radio talk show host, and blogger for the AFA and American Family Radio. Earlier this year the AFA put a disclaimer on his blog posts that Fischer's opinions are not those of the AFA.
Over the past year, Fischer found God's judgment in stories of baseball, bears, and killer whales. He said Latinos—particularly Catholic Latinos—are not pro-family. Fischer said homosexuality should be outlawed and that homosexuals caused Nazism and the Holocaust. His harshest words, however, were aimed at Muslims. Fischer proposed that the government deport all Muslims, expel them from the military, and forbid more mosques. In addition to his view that moderate Muslims do not exist, Fischer also says, "The massive inbreeding in Muslim culture may well have done virtually irreversible damage to the Muslim gene pool, including extensive damage to its intelligence, sanity, and health."
Fischer continues to make headlines. He was a featured speaker at this year's Values Voters Summit. National Public Radio and The New York Times have interviewed Fischer as a representative of social conservatives. Even the Colbert Report featured him.
4. 'Public Outrage' Alters Battles Over Courts
For most of the year, social conservatives lost battles over the courts. The summer brought the vacancy left by retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. President Obama's nominee, Elena Kagan, was instantly vilified by conservatives as inexperienced, activist, and political. Activists pushed Republicans to filibuster her nomination, but in the end, she was approved.
In August, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the U.S. Constitution. This 2008 proposition amended the California constitution to include a definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Not surprisingly, social conservatives were outraged. Chuck Colson said at BreakPoint, "my hopes are … in the groundswell of public outrage and resistance."