So far, this blog has covered anti-Mormon and anti-gay rhetoric at the 2011 Values Voters Summit. I'd also like to discuss what some speakers were saying about science and nature. Although science and nature did not figure as prominently as other issues at the summit, what two speakers said nevertheless deserve attention.
First, in his opening speech, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins listed several Obama administration economic policies he disagreed with. At the 15:00 mark of this C-SPAN Friday morning coverage video, Perkins insisted that environmental regulations were supposedly detrimental to job creation, saying "there's the EPA's global warming crusade that is choking out the businesses that create the very jobs that Washington promises."
Perkins thus tried to delegitimize climate change as a "crusade", framing the EPA's efforts as somehow inimical to America's economic health. Memories of Herman Cain's contempt for the EPA at the Fox News/Google debate immediately came to mind. The idea that unabated climate change could have a detrimental impact on the economy, not to mention public health, was never considered.
Second, the American Family Association's Bryan Fischer made the outrageous claim that a president who believes in evolution would not safeguard the people's rights.
"I submit to you that not a single one of our inalienable rights will be safe in the hands of a president who believes that we evolved from slime and we are the descendants of apes and baboons. Now if you doubt me, look at the nation-states in the 20th century which rejected the creator god of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Nazi Germany. Stalinist Russia. Communist China. The one thing all these secular states share in common is dead bodies."
First, Bryan, supporters of evolution do not posit that humans evolved from apes; they argue that humans and modern apes had a common ancestor. Second, there have been many non-Christian countries that did not devolve into fascism and mass murder. The leaps in logic were breathtaking.
In effect, Fischer was framing evolution as a moral issue. In Fischer's worldview, belief in evolution is incompatible with belief in the Christian God, and therefore incompatible with morality as he understands it. Unfortunately, such a worldview could make it very easy to demonize those who accept evolution.
Perkins is not alone in his antipathy toward climate change policies, and that Fischer is not alone in his views on evolution and morality. Indeed their rhetoric may shed light on why some right-wing people continue to look askance at evolution and climate change. Importantly, both evolution and climate change suggest that humans are not independent of or superior to nature, but part of it, and that our existence is intertwined with that of other life forms and our environment. This concept, I think, is what right-wing Christians such as Perkins and Fischer may find so unpalatable.
For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Right Wing Watch: Fischer: Rights Endangered if President Believes in Evolution
Little Green Footballs: Unreal: At Values Voter Summit, Bryan Fischer Says Rights Are Endangered if President Believes in Evolution
Thoughts from Kansas: Dispatch from the Values Voters Summit