Saturday, November 11, 2006

Tough Year for the Religious Right

The scandals have come one after another for the political party he and others in the Christian right consider theirs: Reps. Randy Cunningham (R-Calif.), who pleaded guilty to bribery last November; Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), who pleaded guilty to corruption and conspiracy charges last month after accepting lavish gifts for favors; Jack Abramoff, the convicted fundraiser and briber who provided many of those gifts — and to whom Sheldon himself was linked through payments he received from an Abramoff client, an Internet gambling firm; and, perhaps most upsettingly for the author of “The Homosexual Agenda to Change America,” Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.), who was forced to resign his seat after the disclosure of his uninvited sexual communications with male congressional interns.

Then, as if things could not get worse, there was the disgrace of Sheldon’s own friend and colleague, Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado mega-church leader and president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an even bigger pillar of Republican support on the Christian right. Sheldon disclosed that he and “a lot” of others knew about Haggard’s homosexuality “for awhile ... but we weren’t sure just how to deal with it.”

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