Saturday, December 1, 2012

Free Advice to the Religious Right

The advice that follows is generally applicable.  I offer it to the religious right in response to some of the polemic against Frank Schaefer.

  1. You need to eschew the strict dichotomy of friend and foe.  You will find you have few of either if you take a step back.  Most people are ambivalent to your interests.  Very few are antagonistic.  
  2. You need to demand less of those who are neutral.  One of the more ridiculous displays in the past election was Romney's pro-life convictions.  Even if Romney would have won, the manifestation of those convictions extracted at significant cost would have been nothing since there was very little of an actual anti-abortion agenda that could or would be enacted.  Romney was neutral on abortion.  Obama is largely neutral on abortion in practice.  Both offered rhetoric that pretended otherwise.  
  3. Recognize what is an issue and what can be an issue.  A right to refuse the offer of insurance coverage for contraceptive benefits was never going to decide a national election.  This was true even if you claimed this was an issue of religious liberty.
  4. Advocacy and advisement are distinct activities.  Advisors above all else must be judged on their competency.  Too often advocates are forgiven for their piss poor advisement because they are on the side of angels.  Additionally there is fear that the cause will suffer if advocates learn they are piss poor advisors.  Because of this, you have piss poor advisors.  Acknowledge the problem and move on.
  5. Advocacy has historically been a leisure activity.  Too many advocates, especially within the pro-life movement are careerists.  To be perfectly blunt, the national pro-life movement is made up of people whose first interest is themselves.  It shouldn't require 6 figures to be on the side of the angels.  
  6. There may be a majority whose willing to tolerate you winning, but there isn't a majority who share your belief that social issues are the most important issues of our time.  If you want people to give you a respectful hearing on your issues, you have to be willing to give them a respectful hearing on their issues.  And before some people says the other party started it, take a close look at the past 60 years.
  7. For better or worse, the people who disagree with your choices aren't just doing it to piss you off.  Illegitimacy, divorce, and other social ills have been around for a long time.  And by the way, they are called social ills for a reason.
  8. The health and wellness gospel has really harmed social conservatism.  Among other things, it has resulted in a tolerance for racist cranks.  Understand that a lot of other people see H&C as little more than an endorsement of white privilege.

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