Michael Scanlon: How to "bring out the wackos"
Here's something that should at least temporarily replace "poor, uneducated, and easy to command" as the most outrageous characterization of conservative Christians.

Salon.com reports from the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearings on the practices of lobbyists Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Michael Scanlon.

Weblog doesn't have time to go into all the details of the investigation here. If you need a background briefing, Wikipedia has a pretty good one. What Weblog is more interested in is how sure Scanlon (and presumably the others, including former Christian Coalition president Reed) were that they could convince conservative Christians that they were opposing gambling by protecting gambling interests.

Indian tribes wanted their casinos protected from competition, such as state lotteries and casinos on other tribes' land. So the lobbyists decided to mobilize Christians against the proposals to expand local gambling.

Here's Salon's Michael Scherer:

Consider one memo highlighted in a Capitol Hill hearing Wednesday that Scanlon, a former aide to Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, sent the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana to describe his strategy for protecting the tribe's gambling business. In plain terms, Scanlon confessed the source code of recent Republican electoral victories: Target religious conservatives, distract everyone else, and then railroad through complex initiatives. …
The brilliance of this strategy was twofold: Not only would most voters not know about an initiative to protect Coushatta gambling revenues, but religious "wackos" could be tricked into supporting gambling at the Coushatta casino even as they thought they were opposing it.

The use of the term "wackos" was ...

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Launched in 1999, Christianity Today’s Weblog was not just one of the first religion-oriented weblogs, but one of the first published by a media organization. (Hence its rather bland title.) Mostly compiled by then-online editor Ted Olsen, Weblog rounded up religion news and opinion pieces from publications around the world. As Christianity Today’s website grew, it launched other blogs. Olsen took on management responsibilities, and the Weblog feature as such was mothballed. But CT’s efforts to round up important news and opinion from around the web continues, especially on our Gleanings feature.
Ted Olsen
Ted Olsen is Christianity Today's editorial director. He wrote the magazine's Weblog—a collection of news and opinion articles from mainstream news sources around the world—from 1999 to 2006. In 2004, the magazine launched Weblog in Print, which looks for unexpected connections and trends in articles appearing in the mainstream press. The column was later renamed "Tidings" and ran until 2007.
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