Those who marveled at my earlier post about David Barton’s belief that legalized abortion is the cause of climate change should be aware that the “historian” is not only the chief inspiration for the whole “Christian Nation” meme that has largely been accepted as a truism by much of the American Right, but swims in some of the same waters as regular old Republican pols.

This becomes apparent if you look at one of ol’ David’s favorite organizations, the American Renewal Project, the very insider Christian Right group closely aligned with the aggressively homophobic American Family Association, and run by the famously influential David Lane, whose main vehicle is the “Pastor’s Policy Briefings” that bring pols in on the carpet to be instructed by clergy in an off-the-record context.

Barton was present at the first such event of the 2014 electoral cycle in Iowa back in July. So, too, were Rand Paul, and the man who stole the show, Ted Cruz (per this account from the Des Moines Register‘s Jennifer Jacobs:

This morning, Cruz spoke for nearly an hour at the Iowa Renewal Project, a two-day, all-expenses-paid forum organized by David Lane, a political activist from California who has been quietly mobilizing evangelicals in Iowa for six years. Two top-name GOP politicians who are likely 2016 presidential candidates – Cruz and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, both born-again Christians – are the stars of today’s sessions.

Cruz lectured for 30 minutes, his voice at times rising to a shout. He answered questions for another 20 minutes, then stood at the center of a circle as pastors laid their hands on him and the whole audience – a predominantly white group with about 20 black pastors – bowed heads to pray for him.

Then there was this tidbit, which is even more interesting now that David Corn has drawn attention to a certain reverend close to the junior senator from Texas:

Cruz, who told The Des Moines Register he has never been to Iowa before, laid out his social conservative credentials in some detail, explaining all the religious issues he defended in court cases he worked on as a private lawyer and as solicitor general in Texas. He introduced his Cuban immigrant father, Rafael Cruz, who sat in the audience.

That was then. This is now, today, per Andrew Shain of The State:

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is reaching out Monday to the same audience of South Carolina pastors that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited twice before his surprise victory in the state’s 2012 presidential primary.

Cruz, an expected White House hopeful who was the lightning rod during last month’s 16-day partial federal government shutdown, will speak at a Columbia hotel. It is one of many events that evangelical political operative David Lane has organized in key battleground states since 2005.

Lane’s American Renewal Project is financed by the American Family Association, the Mississippi-based Christian organization that advocates on social issues. Lane’s goal is to get more evangelicals to the polls via the “pastors’ policy briefings’’ that he has held over the years, including a half-dozen in South Carolina.

SC Sen. Tim Scott is also on the agenda for this event, entitled “Rediscovering God in America.” The preachers and pols will also hear from “historian” William Federer, who argues, among other things, that Benghazi! was an Alinskyite plot by Hillary Clinton to impose “global Sharia law.” Seriously:

YouTube video

I could go on and on (another speaker at the SC event, Dr. Laurence White, delivered a blood-curdling speech I happened to hear in Iowa last year attacking Christians who tolerate “the perverted standards of the ungodly who live around us” and damned anyone who would in any way compromise with baby-killing pro-choicers). But you get the point. Pundits who casually talk about pols in both parties pandering to “extremists” or “interest groups” clearly don’t get it. There is no analog among Democratic politicians–certainly those considered possible serious candidates for president–consorting with people as “out there” as Barton and Federer and White and AFA founder Don Wildmon (another speaker in Columbia) and Lane and Lord knows who else. For Republicans, it’s not only business as usual, but essential to good relations with “the base” and an obligatory chore on the road to the presidential nomination.

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Ed Kilgore

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.