Weekend Warriors: Lessons From The ‘Values Voter Summit’

Here are some lessons from the 'Values Voter Summit.'

I survived the Values Voter Summit this past weekend. I’ll have a full report in the October Church & State, but here’s a sneak preview of some of the things I learned at this event:

If you keep waking up at 3 a.m., God probably wants you to form a Tea Party group: Two Tea Party activists spoke about being so concerned over the state of the nation that they couldn’t sleep at night. Finally, they concluded that God was waking them with an urgent order to form Tea Party groups. What finally convinced them of this was hearing Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck describe similar middle-of-the-night wakings. Personally, I’d suggest cutting down on the caffeine before bedtime.

France invented the separation of church and state: You thought Thomas Jefferson and James Madison came up with the idea of dividing religion and government, but former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) set us all straight: It was those cheese eaters across the pond! Along with the guillotine and existentialism, this must rank as one of their greatest accomplishments.

The Religious Right does not want theocracy: Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association (AFA) made this clear: Groups like the AFA and the Family Research Council don’t want a theocracy. (That’s what those nasty Muslims want!) The Religious Right merely wants to see a flock of “Christian statesmen” who will “align the public policy of the United States with the will of God.” Yes, that’s much better. Thanks for clarifying, Bryan!

If a cranky guy in a cowboy hat says it, you can take it to the bank: Dale Peterson, who ran unsuccessfully for agriculture commissioner in Alabama, appeared on stage to rant and rave about, well, lots of things. The gist seemed to be that this straight talkin’, gun totin’, cowboy boots wearin’, horse ridin’ everyman doesn’t much like President “Barry” Obama or the Democrats. He later told a reporter that Obama was not born in America.

Obama stole the election: At a session on how get out the vote on Election Day, a distraught woman disrupted the proceedings to insist that something be done about Obama’s theft of the 2008 election. The woman, a resident of Virginia, said it was clear he had stolen it. Her evidence for this was a claim that a man named “Jose” voted five times at her precinct.

Be afraid, very afraid, of ‘the elites’: The mysterious and nefarious group known as “the elites” – I’m thinking it would be more frightening to capitalize them as The Elites – was attacked by numerous speakers. None bothered to explain who these people are, but it’s clear they want to tear down the nation, destroy religion, turn our children into hedonists and possibly force grandma to appear before a Death Panel. Former FRC head Gary Bauer said The Elites “treat the Constitution like toilet paper.” That Gary – he’s always keeping it classy!

It’s OK to wear costumes to the Summit: Once again, I enjoyed seeing the boys from the American Society from Tradition, Family and Property at the Summit. This band of monarchy-loving ultra-Catholic medievalists sponsored a booth in the exhibit hall, as they did last year. Again they handed out fliers attacking same-sex marriage – while wearing sashes, capes and brooches. I really wanted to ask where they got that stuff. After all, Halloween is only five weeks away.

Act as normal as possible: Gil Mertz, an FRC staffer who serves as emcee of the event, reminded attendees that reporters were present and urged them to think about the Religious Right’s image when they are interviewed. “Don’t be the weird one,” he implored the crowd. Hate to break it to you, Gil, but it’s not a good sign when you have to remind people not to be weird.

It was a whole lot of crazy, and I had to detox by watching reruns of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow online for six hours. Look for my full report next month.