Shall the Historians Win? Fundamentalist Roundup

Paul Harvey

As a quick followup to the Houston Prayer rally, make sure and read this firsthand reportage/account from Sarah Posner, as well as this analysis piece from Paul Horwitz, a law professor, in the New York Times, which concludes as follows:

Some people think we would be better off without religion in public life. In the long run, however, we would lose much more than we gain. Our debates may be more contentious if we allow religion in, but they will also be more committed and honest. Just as the Constitution allows Mr. Perry to stake his political future on “The Response,” it allows the rest of us to answer back.

Perry is set to enter the race soon, and doubtless will be competing for some of the same market share in a certain sector of the Republican primary market with Michele Bachmann, discussed by Posner at length here ("surely," she writes, "he wants to suck all of the air out of Michele Bachmann's air-conditioned tent"). Sarah's piece also links to, amends, and mildly critiques this week's New Yorker analysis of Michele Bachmann's ascent, religiosity and worldview. The author, Ryan Lizza, writes:

Liberty is the concept—or at least the word—most resonant with the Republican Party’s Tea Party faction, which Bachmann’s Presidential aspirations depend upon. It is a peculiarity of the current political moment that a politician with a history of pushing sectarian religious beliefs in government has become a hero to a libertarian movement. But Bachmann’s merger of these two strands of ideology is not unique. In fact, the Pew Research Center, in its recent quadrennial study of the American electorate, noted that “the most visible shift in the political landscape” since 2005 “is the emergence of a single bloc of across-the-board conservatives. The long-standing divide between economic, pro-business conservatives and social conservatives has blurred.”

The article also examines material from Bachmann's past campaigns, and concludes (among other things) that her supposed "gaffe" about slavery was in fact entirely consistent with the neo-Confederate literature that she had listed on her "reading list" recommended for others.

Bachmann also has some connections with our local evangelical doyen David Noebel, of Summit Ministries, maybe the most important evangelical leader that no one has ever heard of. Sarah Posner examines that history here and here, and also Bachmann's training at Oral Roberts University here.

Discussion continues in the next post with more on an interesting new book on the history of fundamentalism in one very important family in its history.