Last week’s cover story, “Evangelical Lobbyist Eric Miller: The Most Powerful Man in the Statehouse” (NUVO, March 7-14, 2007), generated a variety of responses regarding my comparison of contemporary Evangelicals with members of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.
While many argue that this analogy is either blasphemy or hyperbole, after much research and thought, I concluded it was accurate — a conclusion shared over the past 25 years by a number of people and publications with sharper political minds and keener journalistic skills than mine.
When the Reagan-era “Moral Majority” was the political arm of Evangelicals, scholars such as Seymour Martin Lipset superbly made the comparison in “The Election and the Evangelicals,” published in Commentary magazine in March 1981. The analogy continued in the 1990s with essays such as the one by Bernard Weisberger in American Heritage (April 1992).
In 2006, Salon.com senior writer Michelle Goldberg wrote “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism” in which she deftly made the comparison. Last month, an article in The Christian Science Monitor by Brad Knickerbocker convincingly linked the anti-immigrant attitudes of Evangelicals today and the nativism of the KKK during the 1920s.
Locally, no one has done a better job of chronicling the political agenda and influence of Advance America than Gary Welsh at www.advanceindiana.blogspot.com. With his education, experience and insight as a lawyer, lobbyist and Republican, Welsh has astutely pointed out the similarities between the KKK and local Evangelical leaders like Miller and Micah Clark of the Indiana Family Institute for several years, as well as push for an investigation into Advance America’s finances and possible violations or abuses of lobbying regulations. In addition, Bil Browning’s www.bilerico.com does an excellent job of representing the variety of voices within the city’s GLBT community and the growing dissatisfaction with Indiana politics as usual.
Given the number of times I’ve written about Miller in the past and the prevalence of the analogy between Evangelicals and the KKK in public discourse, I mistakenly thought readers would share my presumption that I was joining an ongoing and increasing number of others in pointing out the parallels between Evangelical and KKK influence as it relates to national and state politics, and that my examination included ideas and evidence publicly presented elsewhere.
So to NUVO readers who wrote claiming I am an isolated and extremist voice with an anti-God agenda, those who wrote claiming I am delusional and making this shit up, as well as those who wrote claiming I am trying to pass off the ideas of others as my own, I humbly and loudly admit an unoriginal thesis and openly recommend the work of these predecessors, and in some cases superiors, that also detail the ways in which those who now embrace the agenda of groups like Advance America are following in the footsteps of those who once embraced the Ku Klux Klan.
And as I nervously wait to find out if the tires on my car will be slashed yet again, if additional parents will now refuse to allow their children to play with mine, if the threatened lawsuits will materialize and/or if God will strike me dead, I would also like to offer an apology to California Congressman Henry Waxman.
The spell check function on my laptop got a little ambitious during proofreading, and the last name of Indiana Legislator John Waterman was inadvertently changed to Waxman in this article. Ironic, and kind of funny, but obviously an error.