Photo courtesy Brett Davis/Flickr.

5 questions Iowa Faith & Freedom forum will answer

DES MOINES, Iowa —The candidates must establish their conservative credentials by voicing opposition to legal abortion, give a “full-throated” endorsement of one-man, one-woman marriage and condemn the U.S Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

RNS photo courtesy Tim Pierce / Flickr (

Federal appeals court rules against gay marriage ban

(RNS) A federal appeals court in Boston has ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, setting up a potential showdown over same-sex marriage in the Supreme Court and providing another culture war issue for the already contentious presidential campaign. By David Gibson.

Rick Santorum defends views on Obama’s theology

 WASHINGTON (RNS) Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum, leading the GOP field in national polls, is defending his views questioning prenatal testing and President Obama's “theology.” By Susan Page.

No more social issues?

Last Friday, Slate’s David Weigel advanced the proposition that while politicians like Rick Perry and Jim DeMint may still care about social issues, that ain’t the case for voters–including those who happen to be members of the social issues intelligentsia who teach at Princeton.Even Robby George is climbing on board. On Monday, George will join Sen. Jim DeMint and Rep. Steve King as a moderator at a five-candidate “freedom summit” in South Carolina. In a Friday interview
with ABC News, George–a co-founder of NOM, widely recognized as the
intellectual paterfamilias of the “traditional marriage” movement–didn’t
even mention social issues. “The issue that’s in front of everyone’s
mind today is the economic issue, the debt issue, and the jobs issue,”
said George.Well, but on Monday there was Prof. George beating away on the abortion drum, with a tip of the cymbal to same-sex marriage.No doubt, as Weigel, concludes, the GOP has prospered by turning attention away from the abortion/SSM litany and rebranding itself “as the party that cared about the economy and nothing but.” But the success of actual Tea Party candidates–up to and including one time pure libertarians like Rand Paul–has depended on toeing the social conservative line.Here and there, there have been differences in which provisions of which anti-abortion or anti-SSM pledge the several GOP presidential wannabe will sign on to.


A predictable outcry from social conservatives has greeted the Obama administration’s decision to move towards rescinding the “conscience” rule permitting health care workers to refuse to provide care if they have religious scruples about doing so. For example:”It is open season to again discriminate against health-care
professionals,” said David Stevens, head of the Christian Medical &
Dental Associations. “Our Founding Fathers, who bled and died to
guarantee our religious freedom, are turning over in their graves.” Bear in mind that this rule was put in place by the Bush administration at the tail end of its time in office, and only went into effect a month ago. But such comments are to be expected from such quarters.

An Old Feint

Dan Gilgoff’s got a Q&A with Family Research Council Pooh-bah Tony Perkins, wherein Perkins seems to be giving the Grand Old Party a bit of the back of  his hand, while unclenching his fist in the direction of the Obama administration. No disrespect to Dan, who just asked the questions, but I wouldn’t rush to take this at face value. It’s pretty much SOP for religious right leaders to rattle the Republican cage whenever they’re feeling a bit unloved, and with the election of Michael Steele as head of the RNC, that’s just how they’re feeling. I’ll believe there’s something going on when I see signs of it on the relevant websites. And if you take a look at the FRC’s, all you’ll find is anti-Obamaism, not a peep of anti-Republicanism.

Burking the Conservatives

The New Republic has posted a long article by Sam Tanenhaus that purports to be an autopsy of the conservative movement in America, but a good hunk of the corpse lies unexamined. Not to get all Mattingly on you, but there’s barely a mention of religion in the entire piece, which seems like an odd omission given that religiosified politics has been the sustaining force in the conservative movement for the past generation. What’s Tanenhaus’ problem? The burden of his argument is the old lament that America has never been able to create a real Edmund Burke-style conservativism:The story of postwar American conservatism is best understood as a continual replay of a single long-standing debate. On one side are those who have upheld the Burkean ideal of replenishing civil society by adjusting to changing conditions.

Social Conservatives under the bus?

The barons of the GOP are longing for a new Haley Barbour to head the RNC, writes Alexander Burns on Politico, and on his account what that means is someone consummately competent at the care and feeding of the apparat. Oh to be able to party like it was 1993-97! But it’s worth bearing in mind that, in addition to his political skills, the governor of Mississippi is a classic Bourbon conservative in more ways than one. When the state was forced into a round of major belt-tightening a few years ago, the joke was that the only thing that wasn’t cut was the governor’s Maker’s Mark account. So much not a part of the religious right is Barbour that the Democrat who tried to unseat him in 2007 based his campaign on a religious challenge to throw the money changer out of the Temple.