Brian Calfano of Missouri State wrote a paper entitled “God Talk: Religious Cues and Electoral Support,” which is pretty great stuff:
…Republican candidates employ a type of religious code in their political speeches. Their intention is to cue the support of religiously conservative voters without alienating other voters who may not share the same social issue agenda. We assess the efficacy of this GOP Code on the support of voters in specific religious traditions in an experimental setting. As expected, the Code proves to be an effective cue for white evangelical Protestants, but has no effect on mainline Protestants and Catholics. The form and function of the Code expands our understanding of religious influence, and broadens the spectrum of cues the electorate uses.
Three statements from Kuo’s “Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction” (which I really gotta read) are specifically recognized:
- “We have this land, and we’re told to be good stewards of it, and each other” (land statement).
Each of these references a biblical theme or specific example from scripture which ties to conservative and traditional religious values. Stewardship (not in the sense of Environmental Stewardship discussed in my last post) is a great conservative concept because it entails the ideas of individual responsibility versus social responsibility, personal privacy and economic liberty, etc. This first statement reflects the importance of property rights to the conservative, neoliberal, corporatist ideology. Not that the Republicans are the only ones with these values, but they certainly don’t hide their love for capitalism, externialities and all. Because if you don’t have land, who cares? There are many sources for this biblical value, including Luke 16:1-17:10
- “I believe in an America that recognizes the worth of every individual, and leaves the ninety-nine to find the one stray lamb” (worth statement).
This is a little more tricky. Conservatives are not exactly known for valuing human rights and civil rights, but the key here lies in the usage of the word “worth.” By worth, what is meant by “potential” – potential for profit, production, success, economic potential, whatever. “Leaving the ninety-nine to find the one stray lamb” refers to the way that America is not worried about abandoning its domestic priorities to find hapless, defenseless poverty stricken peoples under the boot of American-supported dictators they can dispose of at their leisure to justify a grossly inflated military budget. But the parable they’re referencing is found in Matthew 18 (among other places), and exemplifies the care of a shepard for one of his many sheep. Only politics could distort that message of compassion to use it as a subtle justification for war.
- “There is power, wonder working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people” (power statement).
This one is just a “hey aint we great” statement so I don’t really see the point in deconstructing it.