It’s going to be a lovely fall weekend in Washington, D.C., -- and I’ll be spending most of it inside surrounded by thousands of Religious Right zealots.

Yes, it’s time for the Family Research Council’s “Values Voter Summit.” This annual gathering, which begins today, has become the nation’s premier Religious Right confab. I wouldn’t think of missing it! After all, how often do you get to hear Ed Meese speak these days?

It’s pretty clear what this meeting is all about: It’s essentially a rally to fire up the Religious Right’s shock troops for the next election so they’ll go out and elect the most conservative candidates possible (and politicize their churches). The FRC doesn’t even pretend to be non-partisan. Top leaders of the Republican Party address the gathering, along with a bevy of far-right heavy hitters.

All of the major GOP presidential hopefuls will be on hand to make their best pitch for support. It should be interesting to see how this plays out. With Sarah Palin out of the running, the field is wide open. Yet each candidate, from the Religious Right’s perspective, has faults.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry came on strong but has run afoul of the conservative establishment’s pundit class after a poor debate performance and other gaffes. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is dropping in the polls, and there are doubts about her ability to compete nationally. Pizza magnate Herman Cain gives a great speech but has never held public office and has some unusual ideas. (A 9 percent national sales tax? That sounds awfully European to me!) U.S. Rep. Ron Paul believes drugs should be legalized. Newt Gingrich is – well, he’s Newt Gingrich.

Nevertheless, the FRC is holding a straw poll during the event, and somebody will win.

The event is also an opportunity for followers of the Religious Right to vent a collective spleen at the people and things they hate the most. This list includes President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, gay people, feminists, public education, evolution, Europe, legal abortion, the health care bill, global climate change, atheists, secularism, sex education, the United Nations, MSNBC, NPR, PBS, SpongeBob SquarePants, etc.

We’ll give you an update on Monday, and we’ll have a full report on the meeting in November’s Church & State.

Enjoy your weekend – and keep a good thought for those of us on the AU staff who are descending into the lions’ den.