Last week in this column, in an article titled, “In Praise of Dick
Cheney,” I extolled George W. Bush’s selection of Richard Cheney as his
vice presidential running mate.

In that column, I mentioned that the press would almost certainly
key-in on Mr. Cheney’s lesbian daughter in an attempt to embarrass the
Cheney family and the Republican Party. I wrote, “It is ludicrous to
judge a man based on one errant, but loved, family member. As I’ve said
many times, if one of my children announced to me they were homosexual,
I would immediately embrace them and tell them my love for them would
never fail — even though I disagreed with their life’s choice.
However, their choice would not affect my personal ministry, as it
should not affect Mr. Cheney’s ability to serve as vice president.”

After that column was released through WorldNetDaily and sent to
subscribers of “Falwell Confidential,” USA Today reporter Larry Copeland
attempted to portray my words as having a negative effect on the
Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

On Monday, July 31, Mr. Copeland wrote, “Over the weekend, one of the
right’s best-known voices, the Rev. Jerry Falwell, created a minor furor
by calling Cheney’s daughter ‘errant’ in his newsletter. Both gay and
mainstream Republicans dismissed Falwell’s remarks.”

There was, in fact, no minor furor as a result of the column.

In fact, Mr. Copeland obviously took my statement out of context,
singling-in on one word and avoiding the framework in which it was
presented. The point that Mr. Copeland conveniently missed is that I
had obviously stated that the issue of Mr. Cheney’s daughter’s sexuality
should not serve as an issue in the coming campaign.

I believe the media is clearly disappointed that they cannot
muster-up tension and strife within the GOP and will go to desperate
lengths to stir up something — in this case, a controversy between a
Christian leader and the vice presidential nominee. It appears that the
newspaper is desperate to create a semblance of unrest among
conservative Christians within the GOP. USA Today should be ashamed of
the deceptive tactic it utilized to create this non-story.

While I was in Philadelphia earlier this week, I had the opportunity
to speak with former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson. I gave him a copy of
the “Falwell Confidential” at issue and he assured me he would
personally give it to the Cheneys so they could see that I was fully
supporting Mr. Cheney as the Republican vice presidential selection —
and not attempting to cause problems as the USA Today article projected.
I hope Mr. Simpson was able to show the Cheneys my column in order for
them to see what had truly been said.

During the Philadelphia convention, I was also able to counter Mr.
Copeland’s absurd charges of a “furor” during several network and cable
news appearances. Once the media saw the entire statement from the
“Falwell Confidential” — not just the one carefully-chosen word — it
became evident that I had been fully supporting the Cheneys.

As a core member of the “vast right-wing conspiracy,” as charged by
Mrs. Clinton, I can honestly state that there is no rift within the
party among conservative people of faith.

The GOP is not a church

Even though I am an unashamedly pro-life conservative, I fully
understand that the GOP is not a church.
Rather, it is a political institution that maintains members with a wide
range of political and social views — some of which I embrace and some
of which I do not.

I believe conservative Christians would be unwise to expect any
political party to uphold identical values that we require from our
churches and church leaders.

The Republican Party obviously has members who are homosexual,
atheist and even pro-choice.

While on biblical grounds I plainly disagree with these persons, I
believe we can find common ground within a political context in an
attempt to make our nation a better place. We can agree on
privatization efforts for education and retirement, reworking the tax
code, promoting capitalism and bolstering our national defense — all
core issues of conservatism.

On these issues, I believe the party is more unified than it has been
since the days of Ronald Reagan. (Remember that Mr. Reagan himself was
once a Democrat and pro-choice. It is important to learn from his
example that political minds can be impacted and changed.)

It should be our constant hope, within the political realm, to
thoughtfully influence those who disagree with us. I truly believe the
Republican Party continues to need the influence of conservative
Christians to ensure that the platform remains solidly pro-life. But we
must not expect the party to abandon all others to cater solely
to religious conservatives.

Nevertheless, we must continue to press our agenda.

We must insist that partial-birth abortion is eliminated in our
nation. We have a consensus — a clear majority — on partial-birth
abortion in Congress. In addition, I believe there is a reasonable
majority that opposes same-sex marriage in Congress. Conservative
Christians can be very influential in assuring these issues remain on
the front burner — even if we are occasionally portrayed as the party’s
black sheep.

During the convention, Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe, who is homosexual,
gave an excellent speech on the GOP’s trade efforts. It would be
fruitless for conservative Christians to turn a deaf ear to his words
simply because we disagree with his sexual predilection.

Charles Donovan, executive vice president of the Family Research
Council, said this week, “We must show kindness to people involved in
homosexuality while disagreeing with those who claim that it is a
healthy lifestyle or who advocate government policies that condone that
lifestyle. … The truth that homosexual activists will not accept is
that thousands upon thousands of individuals have successfully left the
homosexual lifestyle.”

I fully agree that we must counter these alternative positions while,
at the same time, ensuring that those with whom we disagree are afforded
opportunities to work within the party (even though I will pray that
they do not gain control).

Media reports will, without doubt, continue to distort what we as
Christians say and do. But we should not lose hope in working to
reclaim the America of our forefathers — one proudly and boldly
established on Judeo-Christian values. And we must do this, as salt and
light, while always “speaking the truth in love.”

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