A Southern Baptist seminary president says the 2012 Republican Party platform isn’t so much a shift to the right as a recognition that society has moved leftward.
By Bob Allen
Delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., accused President Obama of waging a “war on religion,” declared a “fundamental individual right to life” for the unborn and reaffirmed support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a platform described by some observers as the most conservative in party history.
A New York Times analysis described the platform approved Aug. 28 as a “sharp turn to the right” from the party’s 1980 platform at the dawn of the Reagan revolution, considered a triumph for conservatives at the time.
Pat Buchanan, who rocked the Republican convention in Houston 20 years ago by declaring there was a “cultural war” taking place for the soul of America, told the newspaper that many who were viewed on the fringes of the Republican Party in 1992 have moved closer to the mainstream, as grassroots conservatives pushed the GOP rightward on social issues like abortion and gay marriage.
“That speech was then, and is now, consistent with the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” Buchanan said. “The country-club and the establishment Republicans recoil from the social, cultural and moral issues which many conservatives and evangelicals have embraced.”
The 1980 platform recognized differing views among Republicans on abortion. The 2012 platform removes any ambiguity, affirming “that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed” and supporting “a human life amendment to the Constitution.”
Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the 2012 document represents less of a shift in the GOP’s platform than how far the culture has moved in 32 years.
“In 1980 the Republican Party was taking on a pro-life identity,” Mohler said in his daily podcast commentary Aug. 30. “After all, that was just seven years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the United States Supreme Court. By the time you get to the 2012 statement, that pro-life understanding has been made more concrete.”
Mohler said another change, strengthening pro-traditional family language in the 1980 platform to an explicit call “that marriage, the union of one man and one woman, must be upheld as the national standard” in 2012, also isn’t a major shift.
“It’s a reflection of the fact than in 1980, the legalization of same-sex marriage was not only not on the agenda, it wasn’t even on the horizon,” Mohler said. “It wasn’t even in the imagination.”
The 2012 GOP platform identifies unprecedented attacks on faith, “as liberal elites try to drive religious beliefs — and religious believers — out of the public square.”
“The most offensive instance of this war on religion has been the current administration’s attempt to compel faith-related institutions, as well as believing individuals, to contravene their deeply held religious, moral or ethical beliefs regarding health services, traditional marriage or abortion,” it states.
It supports requiring photo identification for voting, supports prayer and posting the Ten Commandments in public, affirms the Boy Scouts of America for banning gay scoutmasters and opposes federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research.
It blasts the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare — as being “never really about healthcare, though its impact upon the nation’s health is disastrous.”
“From its start, it was about power, the expansion of government control over one sixth of our economy, and resulted in an attack on our Constitution, by requiring that U.S. citizens purchase health insurance.”
Through Obamacare, the platform says, the administration “has promoted the notion of abortion as healthcare.”
“We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion, or fund organizations which perform or advocate it, and will not fund or subsidize healthcare which includes abortion coverage,” the platform states.
Concerning immigration, the platform opposes “any form of amnesty for those who, by intentionally violating the law, disadvantage those who have obeyed it.”
It opposes “legislation that is intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights by limiting the capacity of clips or magazines or otherwise restoring the ill-considered Clinton gun ban.” It promotes “school choice” including home schooling, vouchers and tax credits for those whose children are in failing schools.
It supports mandatory prison sentencing for certain crimes and professes “American exceptionalism — the conviction that our country holds a unique place and role in human history.”
The platform affirms “unequivocal commitment to Israel’s security,” including its right “to exist as a Jewish state with secure, defensible borders.”
“[W]e envision two democratic states — Israel with Jerusalem as its capital and Palestine — living in peace and security,” the platform reads. “For that to happen, the Palestinian people must support leaders who reject terror, embrace the institutions and ethos of democracy and respect the rule of law.”
It calls on Arab governments in the region to support that goal. “Israel should not be expected to negotiate with entities pledged to her destruction,” the platform reads.