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Calvary Chapel and the Republicans

September 17, 2012 - Harry Eagar
A week ago, in the perhaps unlikely context of a review of "In-N-Out Burger," I took a swipe at Calvary Chapel for being bigoted. It deserved it, as anyone who listens to its radio ministry (as I do) will agree.

Finding a religious bigot is hardly news, but Calvary Chapel deserves more than a casual swipe. It's worth thinking about in terms of the presidential election.

The Republicans have made a big push for the evangelical vote, although it is the Democratic candidate who professes an evangelical faith. Evangelical Christian faith. The adjective is important.

I grew up surrounded by evangelicals, and it has always been my opinion that getting them out to vote is a mug's game. While they easily get het up about, say, abortion or school prayer, getting them out to vote is not so easy. My opionion is that when you are fed a steady diet of worry about success in the next world, political success in this one is always going to be a lower priority.

I once put this to the pastor at one of Maui's oldest evangelical churches, and he said, "Of course." Another example: I went to a lecture by the young-earth creationist and diluvialist Henry Morris sponsored by an evangelical congregation. (This was when I was a newspaper reporter; not many reporters attended as many evangelical whoop-fests as I did.) At the end of the night, the crowd was in a sweat of indignation against Darwin. The pastor asked, "What are you going to do about it?" Aside from pulling their children out of public school, the answer was, nothing.

Thus, the relative electoral failure of Moral Majority and other evangelical political movements, at least as far as getting candidates elected. You may have seen a Chuck Norris appeal on Youtube in which he claims that 2 of 3 evangelicals didn't vote in 2008. If half of those absentees come out this time, Obama loses in a landslide.


When the Republicans began their policy of evangelical butt-kissing, it appeared that the nominee at the top of the ticket would be a rightwing Christian of standard views: Santorum, Perry, Bachmann or the like.

It is my opinion that the old guard (sometimes called the eastern wing) of the GOP wanted a simple-minded, malleable dope, like Reagan or Eisenhower -- Mitt Romney. I cannot say whether they thought the move toward the evangelical-rightwing-medieval Christian base was something they could not control, or something they thought they could ditch when inconvenient -- the "Etch-A-Sketch" ploy.

In any event, the easterners are not evangelicals and don't think empathetically with evangelicals. Romney is not a compatible pick the the evangelical base.

Calvary Chapel claims to be the fastest-growing evangelical cult in the country. Its radio ministry programs like "To Every Man an Answer" are on hundreds of stations -- I can pick it up on at least four places on the dial on Maui.

They don't like Mormons.

Or Catholics or Seventh-day Adventists, but they are particularly hateful toward Mormons. Send for their free CD if you don't believe me.

So do Calvary Chapel Americans vote for Obama or Romney? Or do they sit this one out?

I say they sit this one out. Again.


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