IFAS | Freedom Writer | June/July 1993 | gop.html

Religious Right jars
Virginia, SC Republicans

The religious right's bid to control the Republican Party recently advanced in Virginia and South Carolina. In Richmond, Virginia, Michael P. Farris, the former legal counsel for Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women for America, dominated the state party conv ention, held in early June, and its 13,000 delegates. Farris was nominated as the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Farris, who attended the Christian Coalition's Road to Victory political training seminar last September, is an original member of the theocratic Coalition on Revival's Steering Committee. He is also the author of Where Do I Draw the Line?, a book on Christian activism, and is a leader in the home schooling movement.

In South Carolina, the religious right gained control of the executive committee of the state's Republican Party, including the party's chairmanship. In both states, the religious right recently took over a number of Republican Party county central commit tees.

The New York Times credited the religious right's successes to its ability to pack local caucuses with political newcomers. The religious zealots rallied around the campaign to abolish abortion and deny gays equal rights, and their aspiration to ta ke control of the public schools. The Times said the recent activity "appears to be a new concerted move to capture control of state parties and put forward candidates for top state offices."

Barry Wynn, the outgoing chairman of the Republican Party in South Carolina, is urging some of the party's biggest contributors to stop supporting religious right party members who are "intolerant, un-American, un-Republican."

"The individuals running the party," he said, "do not represent our beliefs, and we should not subsidize them."

In Virginia, Richland County Republican Party chairman, George Shissias, compared dealing with the religious right to "going to bed with Dracula."

"You wake up expecting a couple of hickeys and find out later you have a couple of fang marks in your jugular." He added, "These people aren't interested in politics. They are interested in establishing a theocracy."

Some Republican Party leaders are urging compromise with members of the religious right who have infiltrated the party. However, the position of Bonnie Grancelli, the newly elected Republican chairwoman in Greenwood County, South Carolina, is characterist ic of religious right sentiment concerning compromise. "When it is the word of God you are talking about, you don't compromise.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.