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Running Against Sodom and Osama

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Swimming in Subtext

The event was overripe with subtle undertones of meaning. These subtext messages to the audience appeared designed to direct, motivate, and reassure the audience. Here is a sample:

• Godly Christians must be involved in politics to take back America from the Godless secularists and liberals. Godly Christians must vote, and vote for candidates who win our approval and these candidates must come to us; we do not go to them begging. We may not always agree with the Republican leadership, but we need them on our side to win our cause. Aware of being criticized for being too partisan toward Republicans, Tony Perkins issued a statement claiming that, “The Washington Briefing…was not an opportunity for us to endorse candidates but rather an opportunity for candidates to endorse us and our values.”

• Our version of Christianity is correct, dominant, triumphant, defines the political center, and is politically powerful. Every other worldview is wrong, and unconnected to the real God. This is a struggle between good and evil. Our opponents are witting or unwitting agents of Satan. Former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris—famous for her role in the 2000 Florida Presidential election fiasco and now an elected U.S. Representative running for the Senate~48—planted herself firmly in the dominionist wing of the Christian Right.49 At the final banquet of the conference, Harris emphasized the importance of the proper candidates winning in November, and suggested it was a battle against “principalities and powers.” Many in the audience surely recognized this as a Biblical reference to “spiritual warfare”— in their view a struggle with the demonic agents of Satan.50 Just in case they missed the point, the emcee closed the banquet by reminding the audience that they were engaged in “spiritual warfare.”

• Our faith, our moral superiority, and the fact we are persecuted by our opponents justify hatred of the enemy, and even violent resistance. Our God may be merciful, compassionate, and the God of justice; but our God is a zealous and vengeful God, and we are his agents on earth. Sin invokes punishment. This worldview emerged from several speakers. Colin Hanna, President of Let Freedom Ring, a 501 (c) (4) anti-immigration group, reinforced his interpretation of this dual nature of a Christian God when he said that mercy and justice must be blended in public policy. He described amnesty for undocumented immigrants as “sin without consequences” and that “Amnesty is therefore not Christian.”

• We need a Christian counter-culture to overcome the depravity of secularized modern life. One of the most secularized arenas for evangelicals has been Hollywood. For instance, Donald Wildmon’s AFA was founded to address immorality in the entertainment industry. At the Summit, an especially high energy panel, “Hollywood in the Heartland,” introduced the audience to the work being done by Christian film producers and the alternate infrastructure that will support this counter-culture. Ted Baehr, who runs the Biblically based film review service, MovieGuide, highlighted the work he and others have undertaken to steer Christians towards more acceptable, family friendly popular culture. Rev, Tommy Tenney previewed his new film, a reworking of the story of Esther, “One Night with the King,” and the audience learned that Hollywood has specific Christian movie studios, like FoxFaith.

• We will win, because God is on our side.

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