By TINA DUPUY
Republicans didn’t set out to have a war on women; they wanted a war on religion. Their intention was to march two Republican-created boogiemen into a battle that would make the War on Christmas cringe: ObamaCare and ObamaIsAMuslim. The Affordable Care Act stipulates birth control be included in insurance coverage instead of forcing women to pay out of pocket for such medications. This was the shot across the bow for the GOP to start their war. Republican sage, Congressman Darrell Issa, called a bunch of men of faith (yes, all men) to testify to Congress how the provision in the health care law regarding birth control would adversely affect them.
Then the right-wing echosphere spent the next week bouncing the sound bite: "This isn’t about contraception, this is about religious freedom."
America’s right wing: Afraid of Muslims, suspicious of Mormons, terrified of atheists and martyrs of religious freedom.
Republicans botched their war on religion with the word "slut." Oh, and by proposing laws against women getting equal pay and a right to privacy or recourse if a doctor lies to them. The Chairman of the RNC, Reince Priebus, said the war on women is imaginary at the same moment Republican legislators around the country were introducing bills eroding women’s rights. So the war over what kind of war this was – religion or women – was lost by Republicans. Their best efforts to get a fruitful campaign about religious liberty backfired into a debate about gender equality.
To quote Rick Perry, "Oops."
This party used to be better at getting traction with these wedge causes-they-call-wars. This has been their modus operandi to pummel artists, single mothers, monogamous gay couples, pot smokers, public employees and other subversives for decades: They create a fake crisis, say it will kill us all and then repeat it until our ears bleed.
How have they fumbled manufacturing a war on religion? This is a John Carter level of a stink bomb: It’s totally formulaic – how can it fail?
Perhaps it’s just hard to convince Americans we are a Christian nation founded in religion with a tradition of religion in every facet of our lives from our money to our pledge of allegiance and that faith is somehow being threatened. It’s like saying you’re the size of Goliath but everyone should view you as David.
Republicans really need a war on religion. Badly. A common foe would not only glaze over the fact their nominee Mitt Romney is from a new sect distrusted by other sects – it would unite (they hope) all people of faith into their special brand of ultra-conservative gospel. A gospel that mega-church pastor, tax-free status enjoyer Rick Warren summed up nicely on the holiest of Easter Sundays on ABC’s "This Week:" "I don’t believe in wealth redistribution." Yes, when Jesus wasn’t hunting quail with his Glock sub-compact semi-auto – he was all over trickle down economics and scapegoating the poor for political gain.
A war on religion would give Republicans back their big tent. It would be a giant diverse group of people who would put faith in the Grand Old Party looking out for their eternal souls instead of just soulless corporations. All the hacking away at women’s rights, the social safety net and consumer protections would be given a pass under "religious freedom."
Try it: "This isn’t about toxic drinking water/corporate welfare/millionaire tax breaks – it’s about religious freedom." It works for nearly everything.
This will all go perfectly if they find an enemy. One good enough, or bad enough as the case may be, to compel all Americans of faith to give up their petty differences and come together as Republicans. Since the GOP needs this war on religion to push through their ironically social Darwinist agenda – they’re not going to give up trying to create one.
What does a preemptive victim searching for a persecutor look like? It looks a lot like the Republicans’ "war on religion."
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and the managing editor of Crooks and Liars. Dupuy can be reached at [email protected].