Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Nice and Nasty in Bangor

Nasty and simple-minded is powerful in Maine, according to Richard Maiman, University of Southern Maine political scientist. An article in the Portland Press-Herald quotes him among gay-rights friends and foes.

The conclusion seems to be that the high-profile, low-road foes know how to use the media and public. They don't mind dissembling. They keep messages black-or-white. They shout loudly and often.

In contrast, the liberal, pro-civil-rights groups (including churches) explain their positions with reason and nuance. They tend to make their points politely and infrequently. They let the bullies' repetition and volume dominate the agora.

Also, the CCL and Grassroots Coalition folk tend to be one-trick ponies. They are anti-gay and will do whatever they can to harm and hinder homosexuals. The lefty churches on the other hand are in the broader business of religion. Their pro-gay stance is one aspect of their ministry, with many other issues diffusing their efforts.

Losers! ...or as the article puts it:
Experts say religious conservatives play a bigger political role in American life these days than liberal churches do. And they say the "religious right" is more savvy, has a more narrowly focused agenda and is more passionate in expressing its views on public policy than other churches are...

"This is part of a pattern of increasing organized involvement in politics by conservative religious groups over the last 20 years," said Richard Maiman, a political scientist at the University of Southern Maine. Liberals tend to be more politically active than conservatives, Maiman said, but liberals generally do their politicking outside of church while conservatives often use religious institutions to advance their political views.
Several ministers quoted agreed that the haters don't hesitate to use the pulpit as well as secular opportunities to speak out. Meanwhile, pro-civil-rights clerics "have not been vocal enough, and that has in some ways been our own fault," admitted one.

Maiman may be naive in his belief that his state's voters will see through the bluster. Polls suggest that they are loath to punish gays on a religious basis by removing protections of anti-discrimination laws.

Whether the big lie of the hard-line opponents that November's vote is about gay marriage instead will convince the confused or inattentive remains to be seen. However, their megaphones are turned up much, much louder.

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