Discussion: Reminder: We’ve Used ‘Religious Liberty’ For Discrimination Before

Discussion for article #234879

Just a quick comment: Barry Goldwater was far from being a bigot. While he was incorrect in his interpretation of the law and although his campain was strongly supported by deep South bigots, segregationalists and maniacs, he himself was no more discriminatory than any public figure of his time. He came out strongly in favor of gay soldiers, decades before the military allowed them to serve openly. He was a complicated man, and wrong on this and other issues, but Barry Goldwater was a good man and an excellent Senator.


The Crackers in the Antebellum South used it all the time to justify slavery. “This here Bible sez it’s okay.”


Conservative Christians have long been vulnerable to the charge that they offer religious cover for what may be simple resistance to social change…

You don’t say?


“On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.”

“I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?”

“And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

“It’s time America realized that there is no gay exemption in the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence.”

“You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”

Yep, conservative hero and icon Barry Goldwater said all these things, which would make him a reviled pariah in today’s Republican Party.


My understanding of Goldwater is that his brand of conservatism was rooted in an old-fashioned suspicion of government and its historical inclination to abuse and usurp power, which certainly was an animating factor in the establishment of the United States, the Constitution, and Bill of Rights. This philosophy certainly led him astray on a variety of issues, but it wasn’t specifically based on what Jesus or the Bible told him. This is a fundamentally different worldview than that of the Evangelical Christianists and other extremists, who want to establish a theocracy under the guise of “conservatism.” As Goldwater’s statements about the religious right show, he correctly perceived the nature of the preachers and theocrats who’ve now grabbed philosophical and ideological control of the GOP and of the conservative movement in general.


Haters gotta Hate. Tom Lehrer nailed it way back in the '60s.


Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
And the black folks hate the white folks.
To hate all but the right folks
Is an old established rule.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
Lena Horne and Sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
It’s fun to eulogize
The people you despise,
As long as you don’t let 'em in your school.

Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks,
It’s American as apple pie.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans 'cause it’s very chic.
Step up and shake the hand
Of someone you can’t stand.
You can tolerate him if you try.

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.

But during National Brotherhood Week, National Brotherhood Week,
It’s National Everyone-smile-at-one-another-hood Week.
Be nice to people who
Are inferior to you.
It’s only for a week, so have no fear.
Be grateful that it doesn’t last all year!

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I’m sorry,I don’t give Goldwater the pass that you do. Yea, later in life he realized the dangers of theocracy, but just like Reagan and Nixon, he cynically relied on the bigotry and hatred of Southern Whites to bolster his campaign. Actually, just like all Republicans since then.


When Barry was wrong he admitted it. He bought TV time and apologized to everyone in Arizona for his support of the Glen Canyon Dam. His fault was honesty and in a politician of any party honesty won’t get you elected. I knew Barry Goldwater, he was my friend. We did not agree much at all politically but that never got in the way of our friendship.
Times were VERY different when Barry was alive. Gays were very much in the closet. That was so very wrong. I am very glad this has changed.
Pence and his cronies have much to learn and it’ll be a hard lesson. And it looks like Arkansas wants that same lesson. So be it.


Correct, he fought big government on ALL areas. For him to make an exception for the Civil Rights Act would make no sense. And he had always supported Civil Rights Legislation, and only opposes two Titles of this Bill based only on his principles, it had nothing to do with race. It was to him about the Federal government vs the States. If one disagrees on that, fine, but it has nothing to do with race.

He even supported Civil Rights for blacks in Phoenix back in the 1950’s (Phoenix was segregated).

Goldwater loved JFK, he hated LBJ and Dick Nixon (he adamantly demanded Nixon resign). I agree with him on those. And frankly LBJ was more racist than Goldwater. And if I recall LBJ called Goldwater a warmonger. Well, who was the asshole on Vietnam that caused hundreds of thousands to die, including 50,000 of our own troops? LBJ.

This is a bullshit article, trying to link his stance on Federal gov vs State gov to “religion”. I certainly did not agree with Goldwater on a lot of issues, but he was not racist or a religious nut. In fact he once said:
“If a man acts in a religious way, an ethical way, then he’s really a religious man—and it doesn’t have a lot to do with how often he gets inside a church”
He was calling out religious nuts, not acting like one.

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If all Republicans were like Barry Goldwater, we would have got a TON of things done since 2008. Goldwater was a very reasonable man on social issues, etc.

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Yes, such a bullshit article we clicked on. These kids just don’t care about truth. Reminds me of Hannity. If you say you are against the Iraq War, I can write about how you love how Saddam killed his own people. Just juvenile nonsense.

I remember when Sandra Day O’Connor, like Goldwater the descendant of a pioneering Arizona family, was nominated for the Supreme Court and, and because of her soft stand on abortion restrictions, Jerry Falwell said, “Every good Christian should be concerned.”

Goldwater said, “Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass.”


What the Goldwater defenders here are missing is that the Supreme Court majority that recently upheld “religious freedom” vs. full health care for women have their ideological origins in the attempt to reverse the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which the conservative Goldwater in running for President played a historic role as symbolic leader and rallying point. The chief legal organization leading that movement since the 1980’s has been the Federalist Society, of which Scalia is godfather and the others are junior members.


No, that has nothing to do wth Goldwater. His issue was always the Federal government having too much power over states. His disgust with religious nuts is VERY well documented.

@MrComments, If someday you get beyond a Me Generation view of the world, you’ll hopefully realize that the role one plays as a leader can be bigger than themselves and their own specific point of view. I know from having been a YR at the time (tho not supporting Goldwater) that he was a rallying point for the whole slew of anti-civil rights Republicans (in its way, the ostensible libertarians of the Tea Party have played a similar role against Obama). If Goldwater didn’t want the company and the symbolic position he represented in the midst of the social crisis of the time, then he shouldn’t have run. But I guarantee you if he had won, a lot of those conservative anti-civil rights types would have played major roles in his Administration, just as they did later in the less conservative Nixon and Ford administrations.


It is simply not true that “all Republicans” since Goldwater “cynically relied on the bigotr¥ and ˙atred of Southern Whites” … In fact, had it not been for the substantial support of (admittedly northern) Republicans, the various civil rights bills would not have been passed. And look at the votes for confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. A vasrly higher percentage of Republicans voted in favor than Democrats. Moreover, the first African American senator was a Republican, not Democrat.

The virulent racial politics in this country is particularly a southern phenomenon. It springs from the pathology that was the consequence of organizing its economy around slavery. That pathology led them down the rat-hole of militant extremism then civil war. The south was never adequately reconstructed after its treason. That’s why they were able to justify the Lost Cause mythology, Jim Crow, KKK, lynchings, and segregation up to the present. Whatever national party depended on the South became contaminated by this pathology. Until the Reagan era, the Republicans hold on the South. Jimmy Carter was elected with nearly solid southern support (only Virginia cast its electoral votes for Ford). Even under Reagan the GOP did not immediately become the party of Dixie. In 1988, the Civil Rights Restoration Act nearly twice as many Republicans in the Senate (including Ted Stevens, John McCain, Thad Cochran, Alfonse D’Amato, Alan Simpson and John Warner) voted in favor than against. It’s interesting to see tha tthe origins of the modern obstructionist GOP is found among the nay votes on that bill: Mitch McConnell (who had originally been a liberal on civil rights), Phil Graham, John Kyl, Newt Gingrich, Larry Craig, Henry Hyde, Jim Inhafe. But even Dick Cheney voted in favor of the bill.

It was the South that turned the GOP, not Barry Goldwater. And now that it is imprisoned as a gerrymandered Southern party, it’s views are inflexible, intolerant and irrational.

I’m in my 60’s,. so not sure what this “me generation” thing means. And you can’t guarantee anything, especially since Goldwater was active in Civil Rights in segregated Phoenix. You have no idea who would have been in his Admin. I’ve seen free loaders rally around candidates like Obama. That does not mean he supports them, and he did not hire people in his Admin who promote free loading. I still recall people thinking that Obama was going to have RFK Jr as head of the EPA, Sharpton with a cabinet post, Jesse Jackson as Secretary of State, etc. Yes, those people supported Obama big time…but they did not become part of his Admin.

No wonder racism and bigotry have festered among the American populace. Complicated people can be bigots. Intelligent people can be racists. Goldwater was a bigot and a racist. The candidacy of Hillary Clinton, the former Goldwater Girl, sticks in my craw because of her devotion to this man.


Barry Goldwater’s warning of the “informer” psychology actually has been abetted by government, by state and local governments in fact. They created the 911 system which has enabled violent bigotry “…where those who would harass their fellow citizens for selfish and narrow purposes…” have caused murder and mayhem in the Black community. It does not fall short of “murder by cop.”

End anonymous 911 tips.

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