While the media obsesses over religious figures vaguely linked to Obama, the story of McCain's alternate courting of and then distancing from some of the more bizarre figures on the religious right's lunatic fringe remains relatively underplayed.
Here are a couple of good places to start. First, Matt Taibbi's amusing "Jesus Made Me Puke: Undcover with the Religious Right," tells his story of going native at the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio. Never fear, Jesus will cast out those ACLU liberals.
More seriously, and ominously, our contributing editor Matt Sutton's "McCain's Ministers of Doom," drawn in part from his excellent ongoing work in the history of Christian evangelical apocalypticism through the twentieth century, explains the perils of McCain's alternate flirtations with and then public denunciations of these current-day eschatological theorists. Sutton concludes:
The firestorm that the candidate’s embrace of Hagee and Parsley incited was inevitable. That McCain didn’t see it coming reveals what terrible advice he is getting and how truly out-of-touch he is with religious conservatives. In picking some of the most extreme agents of intolerance to buddy up to in an effort to mend fences with the Religious Right, and then having to publicly denounce them, McCain has done the unthinkable—he has simultaneously lost face with the moderates who liked his independent streak and the religious conservatives that he so badly needs.
After these warning signs, time for a more cheery piece, so check out "Taking Their Faith, But Not Their Politics, to the People," from the NY Times, which reports this of "The Journey," described as a "megachurch of mostly younger evangelicals" in St. Louis:
They say they are tired of the culture wars. They say they do not want the test of their faith to be the fight against gay rights. They say they want to broaden the traditional evangelical anti-abortion agenda to include care for the poor, the environment, immigrants and people with H.I.V., according to experts on younger evangelicals and the young people themselves.
Doubtless the recent gay marriage decision in California will re-energize the culture wars, so it will be interesting to see what these younger green evangelicals will do, and how successfully the older warriors of the religious right will be in mobilizing the anti-"gay agenda" vote as was so brilliantly executed in Ohio in 2004.
Meanwhile, all those San Antonians getting their demons excised should be required to watch Samuel Jackson's quoting from the book of Ezekiel in Pulp Fiction; I don't recall him reading anything in there about the ACLU.