Was the re-election of President Obama a referendum on the political tactics of the religious right? Their deceptive tactics can be traced to the early 1990s with ‘stealth candidacy’. Stealth candidacy is the practice of running under a safe issue (synchronous stoplights, better roads, etc), or not discussing the divisive issues and trying to be everybody’s best friend, then upon election shifting gears into moral and divisive issues.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both refused to discuss their plans for how they would save the economy. Their secrecy was interpreted as a ‘lack of a plan’. That irritated voters. The boneheaded comments about rape made by their constituents have their origins in fundamentalist scripture (Islam or Christianity) and could have been uttered by Roger Bunyan, one of the main characters in my movie, Bible Madness (which was shot in Southern California as ‘stealth candidacy’ was taking off).
My first observation of stealth candidacy occurred when Brad Parton, former mayor of Redondo Beach, CA, actually ran under the issue of synchronous stoplights only to switch gears into canceling a class in New Age healing at a local adult center. This was less than a year after the McMartin pre-school trial which wasted taxpayer money looking for underground tunnels leading from Manhattan Beach to Hollywood. The theory being Satanists, working under the cloak of child care, were spiriting away children for dark rituals in Hollywood.
Those not familiar with Southern California should check out mapquest for the exact distance between Manhattan Beach and Hollywood! How could anyone, under the cloak of secrecy, build a 28 mile underground tunnel in Los Angeles without any city official, police officer, or layman being unaware? It’s ridiculous, but that didn’t stop the wasting of valuable resources at ‘Salem West’ (as I began calling Manhattan Beach) when it came to exposing alleged ‘Satanic ritual abuse’. Since Redondo Beach is a hop, skip, and jump from Manhattan Beach, Parton was becoming a reincarnation of Cotton Mather!
Back during my fundamentalist days (1976-1980), I would go to Daytona Beach, Florida to witness to vacationing college students on Spring Break. One of the things we were taught was not to be too upfront about our real motive (which was ‘saving souls’). Instead, we were encouraged to tell the Spring Breakers we’re just ‘out talking to folks’ and then try to work the conversation to salvation.
“I don’t mean to be nosy or rude.” was the first segue to our real purpose.
“Of course you’re nosy and rude!” Our youth director told us, “But say it anyway because if you first approach people with ‘do you know for sure if you’d die today if you’d go to heaven?’, they’re not going to listen.” He would then quote a verse about ‘being deceitful yet true’ and that justified the Christian white lie to trick people into listening to our salvation spiel. This shame of revealing your true purpose translated into conservative politics.
We just witnessed during this past election season a parade of extreme fundamentalists and conservatives exposing their not so subtle religious agenda. Is it over? If not, do we have some breathing room to understand how America, via religion in politics, became the irrational nation we almost became? This transitional period is a good time to discuss the merits and demerits of politics, religion, and just who we are as a country.
Are we doomed as a country to be manipulated by fundamentalist extremists? Or, will we finally grasp that freedom is not meant for only one group?
Fire up the Roku and watch Bible Madness on television with your family, friends, or group.
It’s time to begin the dialogue.