BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
It’s not all that surprising – given that they had no other place to go – that after months and months of “soul-searching,” Mitt Romney finally has received his official acceptance letter from conservative Christian leaders. And although the letter, which was delivered Friday September 7, is focused on support for the Republican Party’s platform (titled “We Believe in America”), it should also be read as an overt endorsement of Romney’s candidacy.
A week or so after the Republican Party Convention, more than two-dozen top-shelf Christian conservative evangelical leaders, putting aside whatever theological differences they might have with Romney’s Mormonism, sent him a letter congratulating him for a Republican platform “that most clearly defines your principles, and those of your party, on a wide range of topics.”
It is no surprise that conservative Christian leaders are singing the platform’s praises since such religious right leaders as the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins and faux historian David Barton, had more to do with constructing it than most other GOP operatives.
Focus on the Family’s citizenlink.com pointed out that, “Though some have been quick to criticize Romney for his Mormon faith,” the letter put that controversy aside: “It is time to remind ourselves that civil government is not about a particular theology but rather about public policy, and the question we ask is this one: What are the policy principles that will govern your administration should you prevail on Election Day,” the letter stated.
“From our perspective as leaders who are motivated by the Christian faith, [the GOP platform] is a remarkably strong document and we congratulate you for it,” the Romney 28 wrote. “On those matters of social policy that address our deepest concerns — the sanctity of human life, compassion for the downtrodden and persecuted, the identity of the family and religious freedom, the Republican platform speaks clearly and powerfully. Its principles are squarely within the Judeo-Christian tradition, and we affirm the compelling words that convey its positions.”
The letter was signed by a host of recognizable names including Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, President of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, Tim Wildmon, President of the American Family Association and son of AFGA founder Donald Wildmon, the late Rev. Jerry Falwell’s sons Jonathan, of Thomas Road Baptist Church and Jerry Jr., Chancellor and President of Liberty University, Priests for Life African American Outreach Director Alveda King, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance, Focus on the Family President Jim Daly, CitizenLink Executive Director Tom Minnery, the Sheldon’s (Lou and daughter Angela) of the Traditional Values Coalition,
Perhaps the letter’s biggest “get” was National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference President Samuel Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who has had the dexterity to play both sides of the political aisle, has, in recent months, been in direct contact with Team Romney. His job: sell Romney to Hispanics, a job that thus far has not been going all that well.
There are several Catholic leaders amongst the signatories. One of the least known is Raymond Ruddy, President of the Gerard Health Foundation. Up until the 2008 presidential election Ruddy, a multi-millionaire conservative Catholic, had been comfortably operating in the shadows of conservative philanthropy. In May 2007, veteran investigative reporter Mike Reynolds uncovered Ruddy’s "close ties to the White House, federal health officials and Republican power brokers that date back to [President George W. Bush's] days as Texas governor."
In a piece for The Nation titled "The Abstinence Gluttons" Reynolds wrote: "Ruddy has leveraged his generous wallet and insider muscle to push an ultraconservative social agenda, enrich a preferred network of abstinence-only and antiabortion groups, boost profits for his company and line the pockets of his cronies--all with taxpayer dollars."
In 2008, Ruddy was practically single-handedly responsible for funding BornTruthAlive, an anti-abortion group that ran television advertisements in several battleground states that charged then-candidate Barack Obama with supporting infanticide.
The letter signed by 28 Religious Right leaders, pointed to several areas in the GOP’s platform that it found “compelling,” and worthy of its full support, including:
“Sanctity of Human Life,” Includes “support for a Human Life Amendment to the Constitution;
“Defense of Marriage”: Declared that an “activist judiciary” supporting same-sex marriage is “a serious threat to our country’s constitutional order”;
“Religious Freedom”: Maintained that the Party’s “policies and positions respect the right of every American to follow his or her beliefs and underscore our reverence for the religious freedom envisioned by the Founding Fathers of our nation and of our party.”
And while the letter stated that the platform “will [not] satisfy everyone, … its enactment will only be as vigorous as the political leaders we elect. Nonetheless, the platform is a strong statement of social principles, and … (i)n the confusing moral thickets of our day, this is a political compass that provides clear and sharp direction, a guide that is sorely needed by our country’s office holders.”