Response to Commentary in the Wall Street Journal by Ross Douthat
What My Faith Means; What It Accomplishes
In his April 6 editorial-page commentary "Theocon Moment1," Ross Douthat insinuated that politics and, in particular, the Republican Party, was becoming overwhelmed by so-called "Theoconservatives" like myself who, according to him, brought little to the table regarding the battle for American ideals. In particular, he urged today's leaders to compromise what can only be described as moral values in lieu of "a rhetorical mode that is moral without being moralistic, religious without being sectarian -- and finding a new generation of leaders who are more articulate and less polarizing than the last."
America, Mr. Douthat counseled, needs "more Sam Brownbacks . . . whose vision encompasses Third World poverty, prostitution and prison reform without sacrificing any urgency on issues of life and death -- and fewer Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwells, jowly bigots who seem to think that shaking their fists at America is the best way to persuade it to repent."
For all his high-minded pronouncements, Mr. Douthat completely mischaracterizes not only my ministry but also the manner in which my faith is best demonstrated. He also is unaware that as a candidate for the Republican Party's nomination for president, I advocated fiscal restraint, welfare reform, easing regulatory burdens, cessation of the double taxation of dividends, imposition of a flat tax, school vouchers, tort reform, appointment of conservative judges, strong national defense, compassionate conservatism to help the poor, and restoring the greatness of America through moral strength.
I do not "shake my fist" at people, and, as a fitness enthusiast with more than one million people requesting my nutritional weight loss program, I have not recently been called "jowly." As someone who has pioneered interracial programs for the past 50 years and who once lived in an interracial commune, the word "bigot" represents an untrue and unwarranted piece of ad hominem.
As to "Third World poverty," Operation Blessing International, which I helped found, has grown into one of the country's top 50 non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian relief to needy people both in the U.S. and abroad, taking in some $240 million annually to provide disaster relief, medical aid, hunger relief, clean water, and community development around the world. In the U.S., OBI operates a fleet of trucks that provides some two million pounds of food to needy Americans every week. OBI made headlines in 2004 as a first responder in the Tsunami disaster in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand, and again last August when we were on the ground staging supplies along the Gulf Coast days before Katrina hit and then rushing in critical supplies to victims the day after the storm hit.
Since Katrina hit New Orleans, we have played a major role in the relief and recovery efforts, and have already provided $4.4 million in cash grants to 215 organizations, $23 million in medicine, 1.3 million pounds of lumber and building supplies, 262 tractor-trailer loads of food, drinks and relief supplies, and served 584,872 hot meals to residents and volunteers. We also operate a free clinic in St. Bernard Parish and are about to open a free medical clinic later this month.
Whether opening a free medical clinic in New Orleans East, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, providing food, clothing, and medical services to devastated regions in El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico after Hurricane Stan, or immunizing every single school child in Guatemala for parasites, it's fair to say I put my faith in action.
As the nation moves toward a secular society, the need for a moral compass has never been greater. If Christians were to avoid politics, we would be at great risk of politicians and judges giving away our religious freedoms. We've already seen this happening with the public display of the Ten Commandments, Christmas and Easter public celebrations. Sometimes, in order to be heard above the din of secularism, voices need to be raised.
More than 30 percent of Republican Party voters are motivated by moral values. Mr. Douthat knows full well if those voters stay home in 2006 and 2008, the Democrats will sweep those elections. Republicans should beware of his disastrous advice.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.