Thomas Quinn is an Emmy-nominated producer and writer for television and print, an author and speaker, and a skeptic.

He received his M.F.A. from the American Film Institute, worked as a story analyst for DreamWorks, Universal and HBO, and was a film critic and entertainment reporter for a Los Angeles weekly.

In 2005, Tom received two Emmy nominations as writer and producer of "Beyond the Da Vinci Code" for the History Channel.

Originally from New Jersey, he now lives in Los Angeles.

Godless Popular Government Wins Again

Once again, America’s grandest pagan ritual, voting, has reaffirmed our commitment to godless popular government. Praise Jefferson.

From the start of the 2012 campaign, the religious right had an existential dilemma on their hands. Of the four candidates on the national ticket, Obama was the only Protestant. Romney, of course, is Mormon—which most fundamentalists (and a lot of skeptics) regard as a bogus cult. The two VP candidates belong to the Catholic Church, which fundys traditionally see as anything from a false faith to a tool of the antichrist. Wow. What’s a faith-healing, creationist to do?

Well, why not fall back on the proven GOP technique of swiftboating? Attack Obama’s strength as a weakness. In 2004, John Kerry was the war hero pitted against George Bush, the Vietnam-dodging flyer for the Texas Air National Guard (which defends Texas from Oklahoma, I guess). Kerry was “swiftboated” into looking like a coward even as Bush posed under the banner of “Mission Accomplished.”

In Obama’s case, they first tried to use his Protestant pastor’s “God damn America!” ravings to demonize the candidate. When that failed, rather than take religion off the table (which the Democrats did with Romney) the radical right hawked the idea that Obama was a closet Muslim bent on Sharia Law. It almost worked. Over 40% of the GOP still believes the president follows Islam, and only a year ago Hillary Clinton was pelted with tomatoes in Cairo because some believed she and Obama had orchestrated the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian elections. They got that idea from American right-wing bloggers.

But then there was the Republican ticket. For the religious right, it was a hard pill to swallow. The best strategy was denial. Talk of Mitt Romney’s lifelong leadership in the Mormon church was off limits and it was left to comedians to enlighten us on the wonders of Planet Jesus or the comforts of sacred underwear—which you could practically see in Romney’s robotic stride. (Do they starch those things?) This also made Ryan’s Catholicism less onerous by comparison. Fear of the pope, which made Jack Kennedy’s run for the presidency that much tougher, eased off. With a Mormon at the helm, conservative Catholicism started to feel more Baptist.

Casting Obama as a Muslim not only helped make Mormonism endurable, it was kind of a twofer for Righties. It painted the president as a religious alien and gave him an extra coating of blackness. That always works with the torches and pitchforks crowd. But the religious right couldn’t mount a serious Christian crusade against Obama with Romney’s faith there to defend. Dig too deeply into that universe and you might find things more embarrassing than his tax returns.

The 2012 election was also mercifully free of evangelicals citing divine intervention—perhaps because the GOP campaign was walloped by not one but two hurricanes. One that shortened their Convention week, plus Sandy. Both “acts of God” stifled the Republican message at critical moments. Consequently, right wing pastors were content to believe it was just the weather.

With the GOP loss in 2012, it’ll be interesting to see if those who still think Obama is a Muslim will stick to their guns. Now that Catholicism seems less toxic in some evangelical circles, the Republicans may try to beef up their abysmal showing among Latinos by appealing to the conservative Catholics in that demographic. It really depends on what they fear most—the antichrist or the infidel. Tough call.

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