Gary Bauer reportedly told an Orange County audience on March 11 that he does not want to be characterized as a member of the “religious Right” should he formally seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination. He says a distinction should be made between his faith-that would be Protestant-and his political philosophy-conservative.
Dour, fish-faced Bauer made his plea before the 400 people gathered at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools. That morning, he was the Orange Coast Christian Leadership Week's keynote speaker. Presumably, neither the school nor the religious group would have invited Bauer had he not risen to fame in recent years by putting his own conservative-Christian spin on such social issues as abortion (he's against all of 'em), homosexuality (ditto), pornography (ditto, ditto) and the role of religion in public life (prayer in schools, the Ten Commandments posted in courtrooms, heck, how'z about “Jesus Loves You” coasters in all government offices?).
Political-chat shows such as CNN's Crossfireuse Bauer as a designated spokesman for the religious Right. The New York Times called him “a rare bilingual breed: a man who can speak both the language of the Christian right and the language of Washington insiders.” Serving as assistant to then-President Ronald Reagan for policy development, Bauer was arguably the Gipper's most conservative aide-certainly one of the most controversial, sticking it to detractor Nancy Reagan by stacking her pet AIDS-advisory board with staunch Christian conservatives opposed to government-funded research of the disease.
His White House stint brought him to the attention of James Dobson, who oversees the ultrascary Christian-conservative organization Focus on the Family. Dobson tapped Bauer to head his Washington, D.C.-based lobbying arm, the Family Research Council, in 1988. Bauer has gone on to deliver daily radio messages to 300 Christian stations and “Washington Update” memos to 7,000 people (including Weekly editor Will Swaim. Hmmm). His overtly political tidbits-Matt Drudge's Clinton-Lewinsky muck is responsible journalism compared to the shit Bauer has put out on the affair-are worked into weekly briefings Dobson faxes to thousands of evangelical Christian ministers every Thursday evening-just in time for their Sunday sermons. Bauer also pens a column for Dobson's monthly political magazine Citizen.
Bauer is apparently tight with Watergate-felon-turned-man-of-God Chuck Colson and is credited with marshaling the Christian Right against Colin Powell as a candidate and Bob Dole's running mate in the 1996 presidential race. Indeed, unlike fellow Christian politico soldiers Ralph Reed, Pat Robertson and OC's Reverend Lou Sheldon, Bauer has been unwilling to compromise for the good of the GOP, publicly chastizing party leaders for any unwillingness to carry the religious Right's holy water.
His flirtation with the presidency in 2000 became public during a Forum for the Republican Future meeting in Houston earlier this month, when he cited the “reluctance” of most GOP candidates to deal with such religious and moral issues as abortion, gay rights, broken families, prayer in classrooms and vouchers for religious schools.
He has openly declared that there should be no separation between church and state and has written that “religion is not only the ally of limited government, but also a necessary condition for it to prosper.” In a November 1997 lecture, Bauer cited unidentified polls showing that 60 percent of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction despite the greatest economic expansion since the end of World War II. He then gave a reason for this: “I think what's happened to the country is that the elites in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue and in Washington, D.C., have forgotten God; and, having forgotten God, they have unleashed the hounds of hell on our families, neighborhoods and communities,” he said. “That is an unbelievably ironic thing to have happen in America, of all places. We're supposed to be a shining city upon a hill. The founding fathers picked that phrase for a reason. It's a biblical phrase. This was to be a new Jerusalem, a nation under God. That's why it is written on our money. That's why Lincoln called us the 'almost chosen people.' There was no argument about this by the founders. They were unanimous in this view. They came from different faith perspectives, but to a man, they saw this experiment as an experiment under God.”
Now why on Earth would anyone link this guy to the religious Right?
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.