God's Own Party Run Amok
South Carolina is one of those bizarre Bible-belt states. Normally it is as bat-shit crazy as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi or Texas but it can get nutty. Of course, this is most likely the case with God's Own Party (GOP).
The Lauren County Republican Party has decided to try to get candidates to sign morality pledges straight out of some back-woods tent revival, absent the handling of rattlesnakes. Their pledge was adopted unanimously by the local Republicans who, given the demographics of the country,probably couldn't unanimously spell unanimously. The county has a median family income well below normal. Unemployment is officially over 11%, and 1 in 7 are officially living below the poverty line. Next consider the ability of locals to complete high school. Compare this graph of US dropout rates to the rates in Laurens County.
If we look at the rates for the same years we find that the local yokels in Laurens are far more unlikely to be graduate high school—which means prime hunting territory for the GOP, maybe. You will see that almost 37% of Laurens students, who should have graduated during the 1994-1996 period, dropped out of high school instead. That is just over three times the national average during the same period. One out of ten white males, ages 25-34, didn't even go to high school and have less than a 9th grade education.
Of those who did complete high school 42.5% took the Scholastic Aptitude Test in the year 2000. The average Verbal score in Laurens was 466; it was 505 for the United States as a whole for the same year. The average Math score in Laurens was 436 while the US averaged 514. The county is poorer than the average county in South Carolina and has a higher suicide rate than the state. More people die in the county than are born there and two-thirds of "adherents" there are Southern Baptists.
And, apparently, the local GOP has confused their political party with a Southern Baptist Church. The local GOP executive committee, or 13 of the 20 members, held a secret meeting which lasted 30 minutes and then unanimously adopted a resolution which stated what kind of Republicans they felt should be allowed to run for office. They said that they didn't think any candidate should be allowed who was contrary to the state Republican Party platform. But here is how the local newspaper listed the qualifications "consistent" with the Republican Party:
You must favor, and live up to, abstinence before marriage.You must be faithful to your spouse. Your spouse cannot be a person of the same gender, and you are not allowed to favor any government action that would ALLOW for civil unions of people of the same sex.You cannot now, from the moment you sign this pledge, look at pornography.
The local paper was surprised and contacted the State Chairman of the Republican Party, Chad Connelly. Connelly seemed supportive. He said that technically the party can't stop someone from running for office but that the GOP has to be able to vet candidates to see if they "recognize our core values." Core values? The County resolution says that all candidates must present themselves to the Holy Inquisition for questioning, that is a committee from the GOP, "within 24 hours of the closing of the file period," to see if the candidate is qualified. Connelly said this is important "now that the Republican Party is in such a dominant position in state politics and government."
Apparently the purported, though rarely lived-up-to, morality lectures of your typical fundamentalist sect is now the core values of the Republican Party. Barry Goldwater warned what would happen if these religious kooks and preachers got their hands on the Republican Party, but he own party ignored him.
Here is a county, dominated by Republicans, that can't even educate its own young people up to the pathetic levels of the rest of the country. When your school system is below average, and when you consider how bad is the actual average, then you have a real problem on your hands. But Republicans are pushing abstinence not education, and theology not science. These are people who think there is only one book, the Bible, and just as long as you can figure out what the verses say, you are educated. But, at least you would think they would worry about the poverty rates and the high-than-average unemployment in the country.
No, what inspires this Republican Party outfit isn't the horrible way they run their schools or the problems endemic in their county—what worries them is what someone might look at in their free time or whether or not they love someone of the same gender.
This is party that has their head so far stuck up their own ass, that the mistake the shit they are looking at for brains.
Sure, they might get the so-typical fake Southern Baptist wannbe politician who parades his high-haired clueless wife and butt-ugly children before them. Then he'll sneak out to the local rest stop to expose himself to some undercover cop. He'll swear by the Bible that he doesn't look at porn but will beat his children abusively, and later blame the fondling on too much booze. They will promise they don't love another man, and then for good measure try to prove how much they hate immigrants, gays and Muslims. They'll push their moralistic candidates who will get caught in some scandal.
But that's okay. He'll stand in the pulpit with Hollywood-style tears flowing down his cheeks. His numb-faced wife, clutching her Bible will stand silently and dutifully beside him, one step back, with her confused looking children at her side while he cries out, "I have sinned." He'll beg for forgiveness and the congregation, or is it the party, will yell, "Thank you, Jesus," and wave their hands in the air so God can see them. Everybody will have a good cry, pray a little, sing a little, and then return to their poverty stricken homes while the repentant sinner calls his secretary to tell her which hotel he rented for them.