June 10, 2021


Even Tennessee's conservative evangelical ex-governor admits the GOP is too extreme: 'I think it's fear' (Alex Henderson, 6/08/21, AlterNet)

Bill Haslam, who served as mayor of Knoxville from 2003-2011 and governor of Tennessee from 2011-2019, is a right-wing Republican and an evangelical Christian fundamentalist. No one would mistake the conservative Haslam for a liberal or a progressive, and he is too socially conservative for libertarian right-wingers. But in an interview with The Atlantic's Emma Green, the 62-year-old Haslam admits that the Republican Party and the Christian Right have become extreme -- even for long-time conservatives like himself.

"Bill Haslam is not a natural fit for the Donald Trump-era Republican Party," Green explains. "The former Tennessee governor checks certain GOP boxes: He favors low taxes and opposes abortion rights; his background is in business, including an executive role in his family's highly successful truck-stop chain. But during his time in office, Haslam also got in trouble with his base for vetoing a bill that would have declared the Bible as Tennessee's official state book.... And his temperament is a poor fit for Trump-style culture wars. When Haslam was elected during the 2010 Tea Party wave, a local commentator complained that 'these other states have superhero action figures for their new governor, and we are stuck with Mr. Rogers.'"

Green goes on to say that the former Tennessee governor and ex-Knoxville mayor "is disturbed by some aspects of the national Republican Party's recent direction -- particularly, the way politicians and activists have frequently used religion as a cudgel."

Haslam told Green, "I have heard enough pastors who are saying they cannot believe the growth of the QAnon theory in their churches. Their churches had become battlegrounds over things that they never thought they would be. It's not so much the pastors preaching that from pulpits -- although I'm certain there's some of that -- but more people in the congregation who have become convinced that theories (such as QAnon) are reflective of their Christian faith." [...]

When Green asked Haslam why he believes that the "evangelical movement" has "gotten offtrack," he responded, "I think it's fear."

Fear is no excuse. 

Posted by at June 10, 2021 6:53 AM