NEWS YOU DIDN'T SEE ON TV A commentary by Patricia Nell Warren


As the Democratic convention makes news, the Republican convention has quickly faded from view. After all, as entertainment it didn't hold a torch to the Olympics. As a "big tent," it was more a pup tent, with San Diego police deployed to arrest dissenters who distributed leaflets.

But as a benchmark of Christian Coalition power, the Republican convention shouldn't be forgotten. We must now speak of the RepubliCCan party.

The CC doesn't just want the White House. It wants to legislate Bible-based "morals" in the U.S. The Old Testament has a sizeable platform set in solid concrete. But the CC are pushing only those "moral" issues that they think will galvanize large voting demographics in '96. Candidates are bashing "immorality" of gangs, illegal aliens, homosexuals, drug-users, welfare moms, repeat criminals, etc.-- none of whom are viewed as not having a swing vote. Conversely, the CC risk defeat if they push an issue, however "moral", that alienates big voting blocs. So the CC spin doctors are evidently as play-it-safe, cynical and pragmatic as any.

To see how this play-it-safe "morals" campaigning works, let's look at two key issues: homosexuality and adultery. The Bible's plank is clear: death penalty for both.

Technically, the CC should be casting out of the RepubliCCan party every known adulterer. But the Party hasn't said boo about adultery -- other than throwing a few dead cats at President Clinton for his alleged philandering. Yet at the convention, RepubliCCans made a big show of banishing open homosexuals from any participation in the balloon-fest.

The same play-safe strategy operates on a broader scale. Galvanized by the religious right, some states are moving to re-arm old sodomy laws. This means long sentences, forced therapy, castration -- i.e. grinding non-heterosexuals to a bloody pulp in the machinery of our prisons. Some religious activists even demand death for homosexuals. But no such penalties for adulterers! Jack Kemp wants to bar homosexuals from teaching in schools -- but he's evidently okay with adulterers teaching. Adulterers get a fair shake in employment, benefits, housing. They even get custody of children! Indeed, heterosexual adulterers have unlimited use and abuse of the rights of marriage... whilst homosexuals who want to marry get a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Our armed forces -- whose votes Bob Dole is so diligently courting -- are equally two-faced on sexual "morals". They continue to hound gay men and lesbians into court martials on sodomy charges. Military law makes adultery an equally punishable offense. But when was the last time you saw a TV anchor reporting a court martial for adultery?

Why is the religious right so politically soft on adultery?

Reason No. 1 is obvious. Millions of heterosexual adulterers are potential church-joiners and money-givers to the CC cause. And a call for national crackdown on adultery would alienate a ton of guilty voters. Statistics show that a goodly percentage of American voters two-time their spouses -- including that most active voters are male. The CC know they need the hetero male vote to win.

Less obvious, but compelling, is Reason No. 2. This and that pastor in the Bible lobby has committed adultery. I have listened to talk shows where pastors openly discussed their extramarital lapses on the air. But when was the last time any adulterous pastor was deprived of his or her life -- liberty, civil rights, benefits, job equality -- because of past "immorality"? Even Jim Bakker would have stayed out of prison if his "crime" were adultery. It's just not politically useful for the religious-right movement to clean house on all their adulterous leaders.

The Bible says other things that stand to be law too, if the CC gets a chance to keep its campaign promises. Americans had better start reading the Bible carefully before November 2, if they want a sneak preview of new "moral" legislation that will come barreling out of a RepubliCCan- dominated Congress, with a RepubliCCan President ready to sign bills.

Come to think of it, maybe a RepubliCCan victory is what this country needs.

Americans have demanded more "morals" without inspecting the morals-brokers closely. Maybe that legal machinery needs to start grinding more solid respectable active mainstream voters into pulp. Maybe a few million people need to get legally hamburgered for not worshipping God, observing the Sabbath, respecting parents, having premarital sex...or other things the Bible demands death for.

It can't happen here? In a country where decades of Democrat big government have innured citizens to a disturbing degree of surveillance and control of their lives? Where homeless people can do six months in jail for simply sleeping on the sidewalk? All we need is for the RepubliCCans to capture that monstrous Democratic infrastructure, and put it to their own "morals"-driven uses.

Patricia Nell Warren is author of and other bestselling books, as well as a widely published commentator. Her publisher is Wildcat Press. Copyright (c) 1996 by Patricia Nell Warren. All Rights Reserved.

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