Friday, September 02, 2005

Attack Choir Boy

On the current Down East magazine site, you can learn the size of the largest rod-and-reel caught fish in Maine. You can discover that Paulie Heath, wife of Christian Civics League of Maine (CCL) head is a gospel-esque singer.

You also find out in the cover story how Michael Heath reformed the CCL. It used to be a love for everyone, rights for all group. Now it is driven by anti-gay-rights and very anti-same-sex-marriage campaigns and rhetoric. Maximum fear and minimum reason.

The article is largely positive. It takes the local guy defines and expands a niche successfully tack. It's kind of fundamentalist version of an Inc. magazine success piece, with the same disregard for ethics and fairness of the subject. That kind of boosterism is certainly typical of regional maggies.

If you read it before the next issue bumps it (three weeks or so), you can get a sense of Heath's background and motivation. You can also see where the vulnerabilities and past blunders have been for both Heath's version of the CCL and the too gentle (too date) opposition.

Heath's politics (gay is a lifestyle choice, same-sex marriage is an abomination to God, yada yada) are well known. This article does help focus on the key point that those are politics and business for him. It cites him as saying his main influences are:
  • Francis Schaeffer, the very conservative Puritan and Reformed religious scholar
  • John Rankin, "whose three-volume First the Gospel, Then Politics is a handbook of evangelical political involvement and opposition to the so-called 'gay agenda'"
That certainly helps clarify Heath's rhetoric. When he does the love-the-sinner-but-strip-him-of-his-rights tactic, you see Rankin's influence. Live your Christianity daily by crushing the enemy. It's Conan the Christian.

It's game to this political dude. Given that he has driven two repeals of gay-rights laws in Maine already, he plays at this pretty well.

He has a good chance at losing this time and apparently is ready to shift immediately into campaigning to prevent any law changes that could lead to civil unions or same-sex marriage. [Envision the pitch now. Libertine Canada to the North, heathen liberal Massachusetts only a few miles from the Southern border. Quick, send the CCL some money!]

After kissing non-minister Heath's figurative ring for quite a bit, the article tries to bring the stereotypical balance from a detractor. They use Chris Potholm, "(p)ollster, pundit, and Maine political historian." He is not too impressed by either side for the November vote:
"The league doesn't swing a lot of weight with the electorate, in my opinion," says Potholm. "Because the other side has always run such a poor campaign, the league looks like this huge dragon when it's really just a paper tiger."

But it's still a tiger than can motivate a substantial number of Mainers on hot-button issues, making Potholm's claims of weakness sound rather like he's whistling past the graveyard. "About 40 percent of Mainers favor gay rights, period," Potholm explains. "About 40 percent oppose 'special rights.' The battle is for the 20 percent in the middle."
Heath remains as arrogant as ever. A loss in November would surely only get him to come at the anti-gay campaign from a different angle. After all, that's how he makes a buck.

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