Reprinted from Pied Type, April 8, 2015:

“On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? …

“I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.'”

Those are not my words. And I could not have been more surprised when I saw them. They are the words of Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.) in a speech to the US Senate on September 16, 1981. An arch-conservative considered an “extremist” by many when he ran for president in 1964, he’d be appalled by what the right-wingers in his party are doing today — trying at every turn to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of the country. GOP conservatives have slipped a very long way from their “small government” and “big tent” positions of the past.

For several weeks the headlines have been about the so-called “religious freedom” legislation in Indiana and several other states. But now conservatives are back to their years-long campaign to impose their religious beliefs about abortion on every woman in the country, in direct opposition to the right of women to make their own choices. The latest salvo is a shiny new Kansas law prohibiting what it calls “dismemberment abortion” and defines as “knowingly dismembering a living unborn child and extracting such unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus.” Or to put it in neutral, correct medical terms, the law bans a procedure known as dilation and evacuation (D&E). However it’s described, banning the procedure is an intrusion by zealots and politicians into the legal and medical rights of women. (A similar bill reached the Oklahoma governor’s desk Wednesday.)

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”    

 — Barry Goldwater, November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience, 2006

12 thoughts on “Forewarned

  1. Susan, I’ve been following you for many years (don’t really know how many) now but for whatever reason I missed this one. It’s a good one. Goldwater would be both appalled and maybe a little smug at how his prediction came true. Fundamentalist faith derives from the root notion that the bible, mainly the King James version, is the inerrant word of God. Barry was right, if you’re talking to the “faithful”, you might as well save your breath. When I became a Presbyterian for a few years, my membership required that I accept the premise. Never mind that history abounds with evidence [youtube about the bible’s contradictions, the problem of natural suffering, and the fact that it was cobbled together by committees decades after Jesus’s death.

    1. My parents had me going to a Presbyterian church up until I left for college. But the church lost the fight as soon as I’d taken several science classes. I don’t mind fundamentalists or any other religious people as long as they keep their religion in their hearts, homes, and places of worship. When it enters the general populace or my life — or worse, government — then it’s out of bounds and I will resist. Politely if possible. If not, then as rudely and intrusively as they try to make it.

    2. I’ve watched about 20 minutes of this video so far. My overriding thought is that the people who really need to hear this and give it serious thought and consideration, won’t. But it might reach a few where the likes of Hitchens and Harris would not. However, not holding my breath.

  2. Barry Goldwater – The most recent Classical Liberal, or Libertarian. Maybe the last Republican I voted for… by the same token, I can’t remember the last Democrat I voted for.  Yeah, I’m really that old.

    1. I might have you beat age wise. I can remember voting for Eisenhower. I also recall voting for Anderson and Perot. Maybe someday I’ll get this thing figured out and find the perfect president. LOL

      1. Jim, I’m guessing we can call “Voting for the winner” a tie since it appears that you don’t either.

        Coming from Texas and knowing a little of LBJ’s history, Goldwater might have been able to do what Trump couldn’t – count the votes collected from cemetery plots.

        e.g. Jiim Wells County

      2. I hadn’t heard about box 13 either, but it fits Johnson’s reputation. George Washington seems to have been a fairly modest man with no real thirst for power. With Abe being a possible exception, it went down from there.

    2. Goldwater got my first presidential vote. And I remained Republican until, oh, about the time the right started sticking their nose in my most personal business and presidents started referencing their “higher power” for justification and guidance. I wrote about it sometime in the past.

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