Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The ED show: Rev. Barry Lynn on Dobson’s ‘declaration of defeat.’

The ED show, April 13: With major decisions on same-sex marriage in several states this month, are social conservatives waving the white flag or retrenching until the next battle? Rev. Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State discusses:

This comes from the official Transcript, but for the record, I had to make some corrections for accuracy:

SCHULTZ: Welcome back to THE ED SHOW on MSNBC. Are the cultural wars ever? In his farewell address to Focus on the Family, James Dobson, who founded the Family Research Council back in 1981 to push socially conservative causes on Capitol Hill, declared defeat.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) JAMES DOBSON, FOCUS ON THE FAMILY: The battles that we fought in the ‘80s now; we were victorious in many of those conflicts with the culture, trying to defend righteousness, trying to defend the unborn child, trying to preserve the dignity of the family, and the definition of marriage. And now we are absolutely awash in evil. Humanly speaking, we can say that we have lost all of those battles. (END AUDIO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: With major decisions on same-sex marriage in several states this month, are social conservatives waving the white flag or retrenching for the next big battle? Joining me now, Reverend Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Reverend, great to have you on tonight.


SCHULTZ: Is it over? Or is this just a ploy by the conservatives to say it‘s over, so nobody will pay attention to them?

LYNN: Yes, it‘s mainly a ploy, because we‘ve heard this death of the religious right at least four times in the last 25 years. But just like Freddie Krueger, they always come back to Elm Street, whether we like them or not. Certainly, James Dobson knows he lost some big battles in the last decade. And I‘m out there every day trying to make sure they lose more battles in the years to come.

But he also is a man with a mound of money, no new ideas, and he and others on the religious right are going to come back to the same well; prayer in the schools, how do we get more religion into the schools? How do we harass gay and lesbian Americans more? How do we fight evilution, as they might call it.

SCHULTZ: Do you think the passing of Jerry Falwell, the story that developed before the election, with Ted Haggard, really hurt the cause of the social conservatives in this country, kind of brought them back to ground? They are not holier than thou. They have issues too. Do you think it hurt them politically?

LYNN: I think it hurt them very briefly, and maybe hurt them a little bit in the 2006 election. But I think that we make a huge mistake if we believe that they are gone in any significant way. Dobson‘s organization in the last IRS reporting year took in 145 million dollars for Focus on the Family. His political action committee added another 10 million dollars to that.

These people are just absolutely awash with funds that come from people who believe that the culture wars are not over, even if they, in fact, listen to Dobson say that about what is possible on the human level. They say, well, God still has a plan, and it is the same plan that Jerry Falwell had back in the 1970’s--anti-gay, anti-abortion.

SCHULTZ: Reverend Lynn, is the challenge now for liberals in this country to prove that they are not godless? Is this a window of opportunity right now? What do you think?

LYNN: I don‘t think we‘ve got to prove anything. Most of us—many of us are spiritual people and we‘re proud to say that. I think this administration has to be very careful, though, that it doesn‘t play the religion card too often, because, frankly, President Obama has not, for example, changed the George Bush rules on allowing discriminatory hiring in faith-based organizations that get tax dollars. Two-thirds of the American people said it was wrong in the last administration. This administration has got to work on that.

They have lost the religious right. They lost them long before he even took office. They hate Barack Obama‘s policies on stem cell. They are never going to get them back. I think it‘s important that this administration do what President Obama has said several times. I believe he says in the separation of church and state. He has to do that. And he has to demonstrate, as he frequently does, separation of church and state is not anti-religion. It‘s just pro-religion working and operating on its own, without government‘s so-called help or assistance.

SCHULTZ: Reverend, good to have you with us tonight.

LYNN: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: Great to have you on the program. Thanks for your insight on this.

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