DEMINT WANTS TO ROLL BACK THE CULTURE CLOCK…. Amanda Terkel offers a striking reminder of the conservative Republican ideology, and the way it’s inclined to deal with culture issues, even now.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) attempted to convince pastors that economic issues are moral issues at the Greater Freedom Rally at a church in Spartanburg, South Carolina yesterday, imploring them to help conservatives retake Congress in November.

In addition to reiterating anti-choice talking points on abortion and backing “traditional marriage,” according to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, the senator went further and “said if someone is openly homosexual, they shouldn’t be teaching in the classroom and he holds the same position on an unmarried woman who’s sleeping with her boyfriend — she shouldn’t be in the classroom.”

DeMint’s hatred for gays isn’t new, and given his ideology, is sadly predictable, though this hardly makes it any less odious. Indeed, I’d love to hear how the far-right senator envisions the application of his desired rule — would those applying for teaching positions be required to divulge their sexual orientation? Would we need some kind of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy when it comes to public school classrooms?

But the fact that DeMint goes even further, wanting to prohibit Americans “living in sin” from teaching is extraordinary.

Indeed, I’d just like to take a moment to note that it’s the 21st century. What’s more, Jim DeMint isn’t just some random, no-name activist — he’s a prominent U.S. senator, a kingmaker in GOP primaries, and a possible contender for Senate Republican Leader in the next Congress.

And if a woman lives with a boyfriend — or perhaps even has a girlfriend — DeMint would like to see her prohibited from the teaching profession.

My hunch is that the American mainstream doesn’t fully appreciate just how far to the right the Republican Party really is in 2010. I also suspect the electorate might be surprised if there’s a GOP congressional majority next year, and voters get to see just how conservative this bunch really is.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.