Monday, February 16, 2009

Rebranding The Religious Right

Apparently the “religious right” is looking to rebrand itself:
However, several politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the "Religious Right," "Christian Right," "Moral Majority," or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.

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

Amazing. I wonder why that is? Hmmm ...

But I digress:

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Family, said that when writers include terms like "Religious Right" and "fundamentalist," they can create negative impressions.

"Terms like 'Religious Right' have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism," Schneeberger said. "The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it."

I wonder if Schneeberger gets that it’s not the use of the term Religious Right by journalists that creates the negative impressions but the actions of those people these journalists are writing about.

And it always amazes me that the Religious Right tries to present itself as some kind of majority--dare I say it, a Moral Majority?--and then acts offended when their crackpot ideas about women, birth control, gays, science, etc. are held up for ridicule. If this group was anything close to a "majority" their ideas wouldn't be viewed as radical and their self-identifiers wouldn't become pejoratives.

And why do they care? Christianity has always been a counter-cultural movement. They should revel in being a fringe minority. That's the point. Be mocked for Jesus, and wear it as a badge of pride. Blessed are those who are persecuted ... Blessed are you when people insult you. Don't you guys read that part of the Bible?

Furthermore, while a cumbersome phrase like 'socially conservative evangelicals' may (temporarily at least) be more palatable to the folks at Focus on the Family, it seems to exile Bill Donohue, Raymond Burke, and the rest of the non-evangelical socially conservative zealots from their freaky little club. Suck on it, Catholic League! You're not invited to the party!

Well, good luck with the reframing, folks. I know it helped a lot of Southern Baptist churches to drop the "Baptist" from their name--at least until people got to know them better. Once again, focusing on the image and not the content, a favorite conservative strategy, has lead to predictable, superficial results. Just be who you are and be proud of it.

Here’s a little ditty that I stumbled across in your honor. And a warning: this is not safe for work, so keep the volume down low or the earbuds in place:

(h/t, ThinkProgress.)