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February 12, 2011

CPAC’s Social Conservative Presence: Existent, But Less Prominent

WASHINGTON --Social conservative groups may not be picking a fight with other factions of the conservative movement at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but they will still have to continue to work hard to ensure their issues remain on the forefront of conservatives’ minds in the conservative movement and as the 2012 election nears.

Tom Minnery, vice president of government and public policy at CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family and co-sponsor of CPAC, thinks their presence has made the conference stronger than it would have been in their absence. As a co-sponsor, CitizenLink helped choose the forum topics and speakers—and snagged a prime spot in the exhibit hall.

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Despite the buzz that CPAC has all pushed social conservative issues aside because of their inclusion of GOProud, a gay rights group, Minnery disagrees: “Not only are there good panels here that represent social conservative values but the speakers—like Rep. Michele Bachmann—do too.”
Of the potential presidential candidates who have spoken thus far, most focused on issues related to China, spending, and criticizing President Obama. Bachmann gave the opening keynote and lambasted Obama for “socialist” tendencies; she did encourage social and fiscal conservatives to work together to elect conservative candidates in the next election. “We cannot shun each other for 2012,” she said.

Though he received cheers to a reference to protecting the unborn in his Friday morning address, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney mostly criticized Obama for his failure to remedy the economic crisis. Texas Rep. Ron Paul, won the straw poll vote with 30 percent of the vote while Romney came in second with 23 percent. Other potential candidates came in around 4 percent, though former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee did not attend.

In an afternoon speech, Minnesota’s former Gov. Tim Pawlenty fired up the crowd discussing everything from the debt ceiling to his compelling personal story to spending. Though he refrained from mentioning marriage or life issues, he encouraged conservatives to “turn towards God, not away from him.”

Minnery also dispels the notion that the strong presence of the Tea Party here—a movement largely concerned with smaller government and lower taxes—conflicts with CitizenLink’s purpose to promote traditional marriage, preserve religious liberty, and promote the sanctity of life. Though he never went so far as to say Focus on the Family and the Tea Party would join forces to elect fiscal and social conservatives in 2012, he finds their strong pro-life stance encouraging. (An April 2010 Gallup poll found 65% of Tea Partiers identify themselves as pro-life).

What about the presence of GOProud at CPAC? Minnery shrugged. “It is an anomaly. The way they’ve treated some of our fellow organizations that aren’t here—like the Family Research Council –is unfortunate and doesn’t build a spirit of unity.” Minnery thinks voters will ultimately determine the fate of gay marriage, not a booth at CPAC.

There are multiple forums per day at CPAC, of them, only two panels on social conservative issues—one Thursday on marriage, one Friday on the pro-life movement—Minnery not only approved of the forums but he corrected me and said the judicial panel this morning, “The Left’s Campaign to Reshape the Judiciary,” belongs under the social conservative tent with marriage and life. During yesterday’s panel “Traditional Marriage and Society,” Minnery argued that one way to fight poverty is to encourage marriages that last.

Tim Goeglein, vice president of external relations at Focus on the Family, hosted today’s forum, “The Pro-Life Movement: Plans and Goals.” To a crowd of 200 people—relatively small considering the 11,000 attendees—he lauded the socially conservative awareness of the students present. “Your generation understands the tragedy of abortion like no generation before you…this is a new pro life movement with a gripping story to tell.”

Erin DeLullo, a forum speaker and consultant with LifeandMarriage.com, encouraged social conservatives to work as hard as fiscal conservatives do to elect like-minded politicians. At the same time, she called out Governor Mitch Daniels—who has called for a truce with social conservative issues until economic issues are resolved—and said “the right to life cannot be put on the backburner.” The audience cheered.

One of those audience members cheering was Andrew Schantz, a student at the University of
Michigan who came to CPAC for the first time this year and sat in on the forum because of his interest in social conservative issues. He thinks the country’s economic crisis has actually boosted support for socially conservative issues. “I think people are returning more to social conservative views because times are hard. It kind of alleviates the economic crisis, focusing on things that are less materialistic and that will make a real impact on the future.”

As for the friction purported to exist here at CPAC between the social conservatives and other groups such as GOProud, Schantz feels like that’s a misunderstanding. “I don’t feel like there’s tension. It’s just that people have different priorities. It’s much harder to change people’s minds about socially conservative than fiscal issues so it takes more of a fighting spirit.”

This year, some—the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, and Senator Jim DeMint, to name a few—chose to take their socially conservatives values and fight elsewhere, boycotting CPAC because GOProud’s presence.

Strong social conservatives and the values they represent were not absent at CPAC, but they appeared to have been pushed to the back of the room. Depending on the perspective of social conservatives and their fighting spirit, that’s either just an opportunity to move to the front or, at the least, mingle with the others present.

Comments

I'm a Christian and I haven't seen nor heard anyone I would consider a Christian at the Concerned Paranoids of America Conference (CPAC).

The problem with so many "Christians' these days is that they give Jesus a bad name.

Actually, the real problem is that Jesus gives us a bad name and will always do so. He is perfect and we are not. Notice how the followers of other religions are never said to give the founders of their respective religions a bad name? That's because no one comes close to matching the greatness of Jesus. All others have their flaws but only Jesus is worthy to be worshipped.

thank you to the usa n troops. and thanks to good guys. my mother used to always bother me about God and church. i became christian now she is hateful and a habitchual liar. she used to hit me over broken christian rules in the house. now she is miltant against me. and dad torments females about being his friends. And neighbors follow drug people. so no help. now rotten food in grocery store. and doctors no treat me. here now in warsaw illinois indiana. i accuse politicians of being to concerned about party life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! almost every usa politician, hey they have tons of money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! why does the fda not go to the grocery store, then in us press about indiana. why does politician ignore the violent liberals want less prison sentence. and the toxic the on streets. yuk life in ind. usa congress are what. prepare for germany, china or russia coming. u a partying during undermine. rev12 9 gl3 3. demons steal lives

Socially liberal Christians have a hard time taking social conservatives seriously when they focus exclusively on ONLY two "values": anti-abortion and anti-gays. What about war, criminal justice, poverty, foreign intrusions, human trafficking, religious bigotry? There is too much knee-jerk reaction to abortion and gays in the evangelical and fundamentalist communities and not enough serious discussion of what role government plays in "values" issues and what should be left to the Church.

I agree that social conservatives seem to focus on gay marriage and abortion to the detriment of other just as important Biblically based issues. As a pro-life Democrat I support life and oppose abortion. But I am dismayed when conservatives in Congress give lip service to life, oppose abortion, and then vote to cut a billion dollars from a highly successful program that provides supplemental nutrition to pregnant mothers, infants, and young children. I pray that pro-life Dems and pro-life Conservatives will work together to create conditions where women who choose to have their babies are supported beyond the local Pregnancy Care Centers, which do a great job but do not reach the # of people that federal programs can. If we truly care about the children we demand that pregnant women bear, we must also care about the life once it has been born. I have sadly heard too many social conservatives say "What's mine is mine" when it comes to caring for the vulnerable, and I have yet to find this philosophy in Scripture.

These days you need to be very careful before assuming that the Republicans are the ones that make cuts into certain programs. I am a Christian with mostly conservative views, and I was really saddened when the Democrats vetoed the cost of living adjustments for the poorest of the poor, those receiving Social Security. They vetoed the COLA for the years 2010 and 2011. Everyone always wants to say it is the Republicans cutting back on very important programs, but in this case, and I'm sure there are others, it was the Democrats. I was very upset and wrote to my Democratic senators. Just because someone is conservative does not mean they are heartless. I am a very compassionate person, but I think there are often other solutions rather than raising taxes for everything. There are cuts that can be made in lots of programs that will not effect the roof over someone's head or their food and other necessities, why the Democrats chose to do that really upsets me. They certainly voted for their own COLA increases.

Politics has become Satan's major tool for diverting Christians from their calling. As long as we waste time and resources on partisan issues in the secular arena, we are not spreading the gospel, feeding the needy, or edifying the saints. We are unequally yoked with the nonbelievers and working on their agenda.

I feel that the Christian Conservatives are just a bunch of idiots! Do they go to the needy to see what could be done to help themselves? Do they see if there is space for a garden at their homes or room for a community garden in the neighborhood? Do they help in some way to get them at least part time jobs? The Christian Conservatives are just a bunch blowhards who love hearing themselves talk and love doing nothing to help others!


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Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world." I am a follower of Jesus and am continually embarrassed by the grab that so many "Christians" are making for political power.

"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." I have never met a meek politician.

"By their fruits you shall know them." The fruits of too many "Christian" wanna-be-politicians are bitter and rotten.