In The Depths Of The Summit: What I Learned At This Year’s ‘Values Voter’ Confab

Lost weekend: What I learned at the Values Voter Summit

I spent Friday and Saturday observing the Values Voter Summit (VVS), an annual Religious Right gathering in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, the Heritage Foundation, Liberty University and other groups.

I attend every year. It’s educational! Here are some things I learned this year:

Radical Muslims are coming to get your mom. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) laid it all out for us: A super-secret entity called the Organization for Islamic Cooperation is soon going to impose an “Islamic enforced speech code” on America. Anyone who dares to criticize Islam is going straight to the pokey, First Amendment be damned. Of course President Barack Obama is in this thing up to his ears. “You would think this is a novel you’re reading, not reality!” Bachmann gushed. Come to think of it, it is like a novel – a really bad science fiction novel.

There’s a big monument in Massachusetts that proves the United States is a Christian nation. Has-been TV star Kirk Cameron laid it out – in mind-numbing detail. The monument in question is the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Mass., and it was dedicated in 1889. Exactly how a monument built in the latter half of the 19th century proves we’re a Christian nation is beyond me, but I’ll admit I didn’t follow all of Kirk’s arguments – it was pretty early in the morning, after all.

When you’re explaining to people why the United States is a Christian nation, it’s best to use costumes. The Rev. Dan Fisher, a Baptist pastor from Oklahoma, showed attendees of a church politicking breakout session a photo of himself dressed as John Peter Muhlenberg, a colonial-era pastor. One day in 1776, Muhlenberg, as the story goes, shocked his Virginia congregation by casting aside his clerical robe to reveal a military uniform underneath. He then announced his intention to kick some major British behind, and like 300 dudes signed up right on the spot to go with him. It was so cool! Unfortunately for Fisher, the story, which didn’t start circulating until long after Muhlenberg’s death, is considered by historians to be a myth. Still, Fisher should keep the outfit. Halloween will be here soon.

If you are a young man and want to protest same-sex marriage, the preferred outfit is a blue blazer, gray trousers, a cheap red cape made of polyester and a large broach. This was the get-up of the members of the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, who exhibited at the Summit. They are ultra-Catholics who pine for the days when Catholic kings ruled the West. I am not making this up.

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society led to pre-marital sex. This assertion came from Star Parker, a frequently incoherent (and often just plain unpleasant) woman who makes her living attacking government programs that help people in need. Parker opened her speech with a plea for the safe return of her friend’s expensive gold watch, which she mistakenly left in a hotel bathroom. It’s believed that LBJ might have taken it.

President Barack Obama cares more about lizards than people. U.S. Senate candidate Ted Cruz from Texas asserted that Obama tried to block oil drilling in Texas by declaring a rare lizard endangered. It’s the kind of story this “big gummit”-hating crowd loves because it proves how the tree huggers elevate reptiles over people. The fact that it’s not true is no huge deal.

It’s OK to tell big, honking lies even if you are the nation’s “virtues czar.” Former Education Secretary and Book of Virtues author William Bennett rewrote the events of last week in Libya. According to Bennett’s version, Obama dithered while Mitt Romney boldly and decisively stood up for America. What about Obama’s vow to bring the murderers to justice and Romney’s statement based on inaccurate information that even many Republicans thought was crass? In the world of the virtue czar, that apparently never happened.

There’s a war against chicken sandwiches. U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) claimed that the Chick-fil-A fast food chain is facing “government force” over its anti-gay views. Actually, it is facing a consumer boycott, which is quite a different thing entirely. DeMint ought to chat with the boycott-happy Don Wildmon of the American Family Association to learn the difference.

This is the most important election in the history of the universe. At least a dozen speakers said that the 2012 election is the most important ever, with the very survival of the United States and the fate of Western Civilization hanging in the balance. This is in no way diluted by the fact that VVS speakers say this every election year.

It may be entertaining to poke some fun at the Summit, but the nightmarish theocracy these people are trying to create is anything but funny. To get the full scoop, be sure to read my full report on the VVS in the October issue of Church & State, which will be online soon.

P.S. Today is Constitution Day. Take a minute to celebrate that document and reaffirm your commitment to protecting it. Remember, there are people who want to shred the Constitution. I spent time with some of them this weekend.