Man, it’s tough to be chairman of the Republican National Committee these days. Having sponsored a 2012 “autopsy” that suggested all sorts of dangerous heresies for the GOP, Reince Preibus now has to spend most of his time rationalizing them to “base” constituencies, the only people who pay attention to most of what he says and does.

So here he is (via RightWingWatch) explaining to Christian Right journalist David Brody that urging an end to “intolerance” doesn’t mean a change in the Party’s commitment to conservative evangelical litmus tests:

I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,’ I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction. I happen to believe that our principles are sound. I do believe, and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues that aren’t going anywhere but what I have said, which I don’t think should be controversial at all and I would think that Christians and pastors and everyone in between should agree that our principles have to be draped in the concepts of grace, love and respect and that’s not code language, that’s the New Testament, so I don’t think there should be any problem with that thinking within our party. That’s all I’ve said. It’s not what you say, I think, it’s sometimes like our moms used to tell us, it’s how you say it; and I think that’s really the issue and quite frankly I think some of that has been overblown. I’m happy to address it but clearly myself and our party haven’t changed on those principles.

“That’s not code language; that’s the New Testament.” Methinks ol’ Reince is heading down a slippery slope if he gets into a scripture-quoting competition with Christian Right folk who prefer a stern and manly Gospel winnowed of all that sissyfied stuff about peace and equality and judging-not-that-you-be-not-judged. If he’s not careful, next thing he knows he might screw up and say the New Testament is somewhat less than supportive of job-creators.

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Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.