Out Christianing Each Other

by Tommi Avicolli-Mecca on August 12, 2010

It’s not hard to court conservative Christian voters. All a politician has to do these days is spew lots of hatred towards the LGBT community and oppose abortion, national healthcare and of course gay marriage. Such is the case in Oklahoma with Republicans James Lankford and Kevin Calvey, who are in a heated runoff for their party’s nomination to fill the seat vacated by retiring Congress woman Mary Fallin, a right-winger who opposes abortion and believes in border fences and walls and the right of every man, woman and child (and possibly pet dog) to carry a gun.

No wonder Lankford and Calvey are scurrying to out-right wing each other — and turn an electoral campaign into a competition for king of the bible school pageant. It would make a great reality show.

In this corner is Calvey, a Catholic, who touts his endorsement from Concerned Women for America, those lovely traditional ladies who foam at the mouth at the very mention of abortion and gay rights. He beats his chest and boasts of having interned with the National Right to Life Committee during law school.

Lankford, meanwhile, pushes hard the fact that he is director of the Falls Creek summer camp, “the largest religious youth encampment in the world.” He whips out his trump card: support from several key Southern Baptist politicians, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who says that Lankford is a “reliable conservative who has incredible leadership experience outside of politics, and he’s a man that’s devoted to God, his family and the Constitution.” He forgot “apple pie.”

Not one to be easily outdone, Calvey releases a TV ad that takes a poke at Lankford’s summer camp, “Lankford served the community well as a youth camp director, (but) Calvey fought the liberals to cut Oklahomans’ taxes and reduce state spending.” Not the liberal boogie man!

Lankford’s response? “I don’t know if he’s attempting to get any traction out of it, but it’s his choice,” he says. “It’s a traditional political tactic to attack when you’re behind.”

Seriously, is there anything more pathetic in a supposedly democratic society (with a clearly defined Constitutional separation of church and state) than seeing two grown men trying to be more Christian than thou?

Aren’t voters tired of candidates who claim to be all-American family men until they get caught with their pants down with someone other than their wholesome wives and are forced to do a public confession and beat their chests black and blue with mea culpas?

Apparently not in Oklahoma.

Politics is the most cynical reality show imaginable. Only it has no sponsors. In the end it’s the voters who pay big time for the displeasure of having to live with the winner.

Tommi Avicolli Mecca is co-editor of Avanti Popolo: Italians Sailing Beyond Columbus, and editor of Smash the Church, Smash the State: The Early Years of Gay Liberation, which was nominated for both an American Library Association and a Lambda Literary award. His website is www.avicollimecca.com.

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