How the Religious Right is Infiltrating the Democratic Party: Part 1

09/13/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

On March 23, 2009, an odd column popped up in California's Orange County Register written by a friend of Howard Ahmansonn -- a reclusive millionaire closely tied to Christian Reconstructionism and who was key funder of the effort to pass the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 referendum in California last fall. Steven Greenhut's OC Register column printed in its entirety a "rant" by Ahmanson explaining why he had decided to register as a Democrat, but that was hardly necessary -- the Democratic Party is currently in power, and so it is likely Ahmanson wants to work to transform it from within or, to coin a term, to "theocratize" Democrats.

That would be pragmatic but also visionary. Once upon a time, though it may seem strange to think of it in the year 2009, the Republican Party was moderately progressive. So there's no reason Democrats can't become populist theocrats, especially if they are willing to jettison core principles such as support for secular government and minority rights.

Howard Ahmanson was at Christian Reconstructionism mastermind R.J. Rushdoony's dying bedside, and Rushdoony's movement is well known for its proposals that alleged sinners, including homosexuals and rebellious teenagers, be put to death by stoning. So the prospect of Howard Ahmanson making inroads among Democrats might sound absurd. But it is not. Along a wide range of fronts, the American religious right has been infiltrating, influencing, befuddling, and neutralizing the Democratic Party and the American left... for decades.

Here is my first installment of a series explaining how that is being done.

Here is an excerpt:

As Rachel Laser, Culture Program Director for the Third Way announced during a press conference on October 10th, 2007, "[t]wo years ago, we launched an initiative that few thought could be successful: finding common ground between centrist evangelicals and progressives on the most divisive cultural issues of our times... The Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda represents the fruit of these labors and maps a joint path forward to heal a nation torn apart by the culture wars."

In early 2009, days before the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the 'Come Let Us Reason Together' effort re-launched its 'Governing Agenda' with a flourish, by announcing a press teleconference and sending a letter to the new President-Elect and Congressional leaders from both major US political parties which began, "For the last few decades, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, America has been polarized by an angry culture war, fought over such divisive issues as abortion and gay rights."

But Samuel Rodriguez, one of the co-authors of the Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda, is not an "evangelical moderate". Indeed, he's actively promoting the "culture wars" and has earned the nickname "The Hispanic Karl Rove".

In a November 19, 2006 sermon, Rodriguez declared,

"We have radical Muslims. Radical homosexuals. Radical abortionists. We need radical, born again, spirit filled Christians to arise ! Do you follow me ? We don't need any sissy Christians, Oprah Winfrey Christians. We need prophetic, devil stomping, demon rebuking, blood washed, Bible believing, free-from-sin Christians !" - Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, prominent Come Let Us Reason Together Governing Agenda co-author.