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Will Vegas Values Take Over the GOP?

Almost all of the declared and undeclared Republican candidates for 2016 could be found this weekend at one of two events, or both.

The first was organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and held in Point of Grace Church in Waukee. Dominated by Evangelical Christians, who were 60 percent of Republican caucus-goers in 2008 and 2012, the Point of Grace Church event drew no fewer than nine Republican hopefuls.

Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, past winners of the Iowa caucuses, were there. So, too, were Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Scott Walter. Cruz and Walker are sons of Christian preachers. All nine GOP hopefuls espoused Judeo-Christian values, and all nine pledged unyielding opposition to same-sex marriage.

“At a forum before evangelical Christians,” wrote the New York Times, “the Republican candidates told a cheering crowd that the fight over same-sex marriage would not end with a Supreme Court decision. “Mr. Cruz said advocates of traditional marriage should ‘fall to our knees and pray.'” Sen. Marco Rubio declared that the “institution of marriage as one man and one woman existed long before our laws existed.”

Onward Christian soldiers!

At the second event, however, there was not a lot of kneeling and praying, and not much talk of same-sex marriage. For it was held in Sin City at the Venetian hotel-casino and home of Sheldon Adelson. Having amassed a fortune of $29 billion from gambling dens in Macau and Vegas, the 81-year-old Adelson is among the richest men on earth. The event was the annual conclave of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

In Vegas, the Washington Post reports, “a crop of White House aspirants sought to outdo each other in opposition” to the Iran nuclear deal. “Ted Cruz declared that he ‘intends to do everything possible to stop a bad Iran deal.’ … Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pledged that ‘Israel’s enemies are our enemies. Israel’s cause is our cause.'”

Now, there is no conflict between being pro-Israel and anti-same-sex marriage. Yet there is still something jarring here. What are candidates who profess Christian values doing in Sin City courting a casino mogul for millions in contributions, when that mogul compiled his immense fortune by exploiting the moral weakness of Christians and non-Christians alike?

Does not the Bible condemn gambling? Do Evangelical Christians not regard gambling as a vice, and a moral failing? Are not Christians supposed to practice what they preach?

Googling “Evangelicals” and “gambling” one comes across a compelling 2009 essay of Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention. “The nationwide explosion of legal gambling may well be the most underrated dimension of America’s moral crisis,” writes Mohler.

The Bible is clear on this issue. The entire enterprise of gambling is opposed to the moral worldview revealed in God’s word. The basic impulse behind gambling is greed — a basic sin that is the father of many other evils. Greed, covetousness, and avarice are repeatedly addressed by Scripture …

Gambling is a direct attack on the work ethic presented by Scripture. … Gambling corrupts the culture, polluting everything it touches. … Why are Christians so silent on this issue? … The silence and complacency of the Christian Church must end.

In defense of their courtship of Adelson, Republicans say that gambling is now legal. Yet, so is prostitution and marijuana in some precincts, and abortion and homosexuality are constitutional rights. Would Christian conservatives accept campaign contributions from men who grew rich running abortion mills, or bathhouses for homosexuals, or from selling pot, or from Planned Parenthood?

Reportedly, Adelson contributed $92 million in 2012, to the campaigns of Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, and other Republicans. And he is poised to spend more for a Republican president in 2016. A tiny fraction of that $92 million, in attack ads, could break a candidate to whom Adelson is opposed. A large fraction could make credible a candidate who would otherwise be an also-ran who would not survive the first primary.

With that kind of money on offer, the temptation to tailor one’s views to accommodate Adelson is great. But it is a temptation. In this tale of two cities this weekend, Waukee and Vegas, we may be witnessing a shift in moral power in the Grand Old Party.

It is hard to imagine that the Moral Majority of Rev. Jerry Falwell in the Reagan years would have been comfortable with the ascendancy of Sheldon Adelson in the Republican Party hierarchy.

And as America appears to be accommodating herself to same-sex marriage, do the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family have the same following they once did?

When the Iowa caucuses are behind us, and the nominee chosen, will the Republican ticket still be eager to be associated with the Iowa Faith and Freedom Council? Or will the ticket be putting the social issues on a back shelf for the November election?

Is the triumph of Vegas values over Biblical values inevitable?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority. [1] Copyright 2015 Creators.com.

29 Comments (Open | Close)

29 Comments To "Will Vegas Values Take Over the GOP?"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On April 28, 2015 @ 1:47 am

The politicians want the votes of the religious during the elections. The Sheldons are buying the votes of the politicians, after the elections.

#2 Comment By Max On April 28, 2015 @ 3:04 am

Come on, Mr Buchanan – the Republicans sold their souls long ago.
So have the vast majority of Democrats – maybe Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are exceptions.
They can comfort themselves with the idea tha they are “rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s” – but it’s shear hypocrisy all the same.
The sad thing is that now with the Citizen’s United verdict from the Supreme Court, mega-wealthy oligarchs like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers can openly buy or destroy political candidates.
The Republic may be too broken to fix.
The Founding Fathers must be rolling over in their graves.

#3 Comment By Charles Cosimano On April 28, 2015 @ 3:18 am

They triumphed long ago. The Republicans are finally realizing it.

#4 Comment By libertarian jerry On April 28, 2015 @ 4:26 am

Pat, If gambling is such a sin why do so many churches have Bingo Nights and raffles to raise money? And if coveting and theft are 2 of the 10 Commandments how come most of these Republican Politicians either directly or silently support the Graduated Income Tax and the transfer Welfare State? Didn’t Christ chase the Money Changers (bankers) from the Temple? How many of these Republican Candidates want to close down the Federal Reserve and it’s fiat paper money racket? The hypocrisy is endless.

#5 Comment By Andrew Zook On April 28, 2015 @ 6:28 am

Yes… the GOP’s supposed “values” have of late always been up for sale. That’s why the party as a whole is so repulsive. It’s not just the faux “value” grandstanding, it’s that everyone knows that most of them are really more interested in power and money(and implicitly violence as well with their support of war and weaponry) The GOP is one of the, if not thee most cynical/hypocritical confab on the planet. They piously claim to be “christian” yet if Christ actually walked among them… let’s just say He wouldn’t survive very long. Personally, I believe and try to live some of the same family/God honoring values that the GOP says they uphold as well, but over the years, the beds they jump into in their pursuit of power and money are loathsome and I want nothing to do with them. Gambling is a horrible family wrecker and for Adelson to get one minute of traction with this bunch is immoral.
And the base is no less corrupt. In fact their leaders only reflect their hunger for money and power too. So again, their grandstanding about the value of real “marriage” is easily dismissible.
And yes, Israel is that important. And yes, someday they will get money from sins even lower on the measuring rod than gambling. That wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Study modern evangelical faith… it’s neo-gnostic, faith-only-ism is a perfect foundation for only caring about the end and not the means to get there.

Now I wish someone, any oppositional candidate from any party or the media would hammer these guys with the immoral incongruity of this Adelson link… maybe it would wake some people up.

#6 Comment By Matt On April 28, 2015 @ 7:32 am

Back in 2008, there was a huge uproar when it was discovered that one of the owners of Manhunt, a gay hookup site, was supporting John McCain financially.

The outrage was entirely on the side of gay activists.

Never forget that the GOP is the party of business interests. They’ll use social issues to advance their agenda if it’s useful to them, but social policy is not now and never has been the core of the Republican brand.

#7 Comment By chris c. On April 28, 2015 @ 7:39 am

To address one of Pat’s concluding questions, the GOP will do their best, as they have been for some time, to put social issues on the “back burner”; addressing them only in so far as needed to keep the often gullible social issues voters, voting and forking over their money. In doing so, expect the media the constantly address the issues of abortion and gay marriage repeatedly so as to drive a wedge down the middle of the party, with the result that if and when the GOP tanks in the election, a ready scapegoat; those very same social issues voters, will be handily available.
In truth it appears that Adelson, Singer and Co., are the future of the GOP. Paul Singer most especially, but Adelson as well, are promoters of gay “marriage”, and at best indifferent on abortion, but staunchly pro-Netanyahu and pro-Likud; opposed to virtually any 2 state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They have the money and the influence within the GOP so it’s not hard to see how this will end up.
It’s probably time that serious consideration be given to the formation of a third party or parties, which while in the short term have little prospect for success, will give voters the option of actually voting their convictions on election day instead of running away from them along with the rest of the GOP and the Dems.

#8 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On April 28, 2015 @ 9:58 am

You want to know how to emasculate the subversive Adelson’s power? Tune out the commercials, ads, surveys, and robo-calls his money is buying next year. Mute those commercials. Refuse to take those surveys. Learn about the candidates by actually researching them through credible sources of information, instead of falling for the emotional attraction of an attack ad. Then Adelson’s treasonous efforts to subvert the USA for the benefit of another nation may be in vain.

#9 Comment By SDS On April 28, 2015 @ 10:11 am

In defense of their courtship of Adelson, Republicans say that gambling is now legal. “Yet, so is prostitution and marijuana in some precincts, and abortion and homosexuality are constitutional rights. Would Christian conservatives accept campaign contributions from men who grew rich running abortion mills, or bathhouses for homosexuals, or from selling pot, or from Planned Parenthood?”

Captain Renault:
I’m shocked, shocked!! to find that gambling is going on in here!
[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

#10 Comment By Stephen On April 28, 2015 @ 10:23 am

As a Catholic, Mr. Buchanan certainly knows that the Catholic Church in America has never had a problem with gambling. Bingo anyone? In my archdiocese (Denver), there are always bus trips to the nearby mountain town casinos. I always cringe when they announce these things.

More to the point, the Religious Right has always looked the other way when it suited them. Remember how popular the pro-choice Giuliani was after 9/11? Nixon was irreligious, Reagan never attended church, yet they were supported by the Moral Majority and are fondly recalled to this day. Not to mention the dirty dealing in third-world countries, wars of choice, capital punishment, etc. These last two items in particular are seen practically as religious duties for Evangelicals, and not a few Catholics who should know better.

No, there has never been a morally upright GOP, at least not in the past 50 years. Just a collection of opportunistic hypocrites.

#11 Comment By Tom Setka On April 28, 2015 @ 11:01 am

Note that this has exactly zero Biblical quotes condemning gambling.

#12 Comment By Stan Golding On April 28, 2015 @ 11:02 am

It’s going to be Adelson’s views that win out and and it’s not even going to be close.

#13 Comment By RinTX On April 28, 2015 @ 11:11 am

So, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee, both Southern Baptists, one an ordained Minister, are cozying up to a man that made a huge fortune through gambling and alcohol in order to get campaign contributions?

In order to exist in the current GOP, one must build up a large tolerance, if not a complete immunity, to cognitive dissonance.

#14 Comment By cdugga On April 28, 2015 @ 11:57 am

Watch where you’re diggin there. It ain like you gonna find sumthin you doan already knoze there, but you might highlight some dirty laundry covered in the perfume of abstraction, denial and distraction. And once that air is cleared, and we see what is sitting there on the throne directing traffic, we might have to re-assess who stands for moral principals and who uses moral principals for a stand.

#15 Comment By balconesfault On April 28, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

Legalized gambling is kind of the ideal GOP value, these days.

It takes money from middle class Americans seeking meaningless entertainment, and scalps away money from poorly-educated lower class Americans desperate for some hope in an economy designed to bludgeon them into poverty at every turn.

And it hands that money over to super-wealthy oligarchs who view our military as a toy to be used whimsically, and our political process as a tool to further tilt the economic playing field in their direction.

What exactly has the GOP done in the last 40 years to indicate this isn’t their preferred societal outcome?

#16 Comment By grumpy realist On April 28, 2015 @ 12:28 pm

Reagan was also the first president who was divorced, but none of the people screaming about SSM at present said a word about Reagan’s “immorality”.

#17 Comment By philadelphialawyer On April 28, 2015 @ 4:42 pm

Bit of a conflation here.

The problem with Adelson is not that he is a Las Vegas Jew who got rich on gambling.

The problems are instead, two fold:

(1) that the power of money to influence politics has been enshrined by generations of Republicans on the Supreme Court, going back to the Nixon Administration appointees, as a Constitutionally protected form of “Freedom of Speech,” and thus beyond the reach of democratically enacted limits and reform,

and

(2) that, in particular, Adelson demands unbending support for the disastrous neo con project, and especially support for the odious policies of millstone-around-the-neck-of-the-USA Israel, as the price of his oversized political contributions.

#18 Comment By Max Skinner On April 28, 2015 @ 7:20 pm

The system is set up so that no one can get elected without access to lots of money for campaigning; nor can one get elected without getting votes. Both are vital to anyone running for the office. If there is something wrong with the candidates courting both money and voters, then perhaps it is the system that is wrong and not the candidates.

#19 Comment By Al-Saud On April 28, 2015 @ 8:07 pm

Would someone care to elaborate what exactly are Judeo-Christian values–and how do these values differ from the values of any of the major religions?

#20 Comment By Render Unto Caesar’s Palace On April 28, 2015 @ 9:16 pm

Adelson is a great corruptor, but I doubt he sees it that way. From his perspective he only does to us what we permit him to do, and he cannot be blamed if we don’t stop him from doing it.

It is a sociopathy found in those who fundamentally don’t identify with or belong to the society around them, and who don’t regard others as fully human.

#21 Comment By georgina davenport On April 28, 2015 @ 11:11 pm

Halleluyah, Pat, for saying it. Would anybody want your son or daughter to marry a gambler?

It’s blood money, no doubt, that the GOP are running with. But what do they care? Money is money. It matters not its source but its power to influence.

The Republicans fought hard for Citizens United precisely for the 1% or the .1% of people like Adelson. It is a most crooked and corrupt argument that money is speech. One of these days, as they have already argued that corporations are people and thus have the right to lobby; it will only be a matter of time corporations will have their right to vote.

#22 Comment By Johann On April 29, 2015 @ 11:33 am

Al-Saud, the term Judeo-Christian began to be used commonly in the US after WWII, most probably as a reaction to the holocaust. Its supposed to be a term that refers to values that intersect both Judaism and Christianity. The ten commandments is a prime example. But in reality, its really referencing more of a joint culture vs values. In fact, Christianity was a huge departure from Judaism. The old testament, or the Torah, was mostly very strict law, an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, kill everyone and their dogs too. Not that present day Jews practice these things today. But still, the Old Testament is much more like the Koran than the New Testament which teaches forgiveness, to love one another, even your enemies, turn the other cheek and so forth. So really, it would be more accurate to say there were Judeo-Muslim values instead of Judeo-Christian values. But another important thing is that Jews and Christians have lived together for centuries and so in practice, they do have many of the same values because the Jewish culture has been westernized over the centuries. This is why Christians can identify with them much more readily than with Muslims. In fact, Israel is essentially a western culture, not middle eastern.

#23 Comment By East is East On April 29, 2015 @ 1:03 pm

“In fact, Israel is essentially a western culture, not middle eastern.”

A Levantine, Hebrew speaking theocracy populated largely by Russians and Eastern Europeans?

Not exactly what Kenneth Clark would call “Western Civilization” …

Sure, a sliver of Israeli society apes American and other Western mores and technology, and has accomodated itself to cowering resentfully in our shadow, but the same can be said of any number of other basically Asiatic societies.

#24 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On April 29, 2015 @ 2:01 pm

First, of all, I’ll begin by stating that I think that a war with Iran would be a disaster for America, leading to potentially wide ranging deleterious consequences for American national interests.

That being said, I have to take exception to a number of the posters here who have suggested that the real reason America is careening towards an inevitable war in Iran, is not primarily because of the First Amendment, or because of Sheldon Adelson.

People opposed to a war with Iran have to get two things painfully clear:

1) The vast majority of Americans do not think the U.S. should let Iran have a nuke, even if that means war to prevent it. Secondly, and related, Obama, is not trusted on foreign affairs by and large. He has no credibility, has weak approval ratings on foreign policy, and isn’t seen as a tough negotiator. No non-interventionist is going be able to sell the White House to a skeptical public, and I won’t even attempt to after the level of bungling I’ve seen in the last seven years.

2) Second, and inter-related, is the dominant ideology in Washington and implicitly accepted by the public is and continues to be liberal interventionism/neoconservatism/permanent war and empire, etc. There is a not just, an is obvious, a lobby for this in D.C., but the American public uses these arguments as a rule of thumb. Other opinions and ideologies, are not dominant, and have failed to dislodge the prevailing foreign policy view. As von Mises observed of World War I, it’s not the arms merchants and industry that create the germ of war, it’s ideologies like Wilsonianism and liberal interventionism that create the justification and impulse for the war. The public does not need a hard sell on these positions. And of course, for the masses, and even some people smart enough to know better, there is the widespread Christian belief that the world is going to end, that Israel is a part of that, that nuclear war is the sign of the times, and that Mid East war is the sign of the times, and that Jesus is coming soon and war is a part of that. People like CUFI and Pastor John Hagee, and a good part of the evangelical Christian, prostestant religion, preach and support this with no criticism from within the ranks. Obviously secularists outside disagree. That’s what get’s the Christians, not moral gray areas or negotiations with admittedly unsavory, untrustworthy enemies of state. Some linguists even believe that religion is a virus that prevents rational thought. There is no shred of evidentiary support for the idea Mideast wars are God’s plan for man, but here we are.

Hard words, I know, but read it and weep.

#25 Comment By Gerald Fnord On April 29, 2015 @ 2:17 pm

Johann: the Judaism that was starting to develop around the time of Jesus among the Temple scribes is much closer to Christianity than to the Judaism to which you refer, though modern Orthodox Jews would deny that there was ever much of a change, insisting that the Oral Law was given at the same time as the Written.

For example, in the later Judaism, mercy was considered so vital that any court which could not find a way around a death penalty, with the exception of murder, were a deficient court…in this spirit, it was ruled that no son sufficiently disobedient to merit death had ever been or would ever be born. They would steadfastly deny that they ruled as if the Law were made for Man, but people say all sorts of things in an attempt to believe that they’re being consistent.

(The Scribes, or Pharisees as Christians know them, also importantly differed in believing in an afterlife and Judgement…based on what I’ve seen in modern ideologies’ proponents, I cannot help but see in the animosity between the early Christians and the Pharisees the enmity born of uncomfortable similarity.)

#26 Comment By balconesfault On April 29, 2015 @ 3:31 pm

@Mr Libertarian , Obama, is not trusted on foreign affairs by and large. He has no credibility, has weak approval ratings on foreign policy, and isn’t seen as a tough negotiator.

Suffolk University/USA Today. April 8-13, 2015.
“Recently President Obama, working with other countries, reached a deal with Iran to limit Iran’s nuclear program. Do you approve or disapprove of this agreement?”
Approve – 46%
Disapprove – 37%
Unsure – 18%

Basically, hardcore Limbaugh-listening/Fox-watching Republicans don’t trust Obama on foreign policy.

What’s new? They like Palin.

#27 Comment By Winston On April 29, 2015 @ 7:44 pm

Vegas was looked down on as being a mafia comtrolled, not to mention gambling is not approved in Christianity. The fact that a casino owner is major donor of GOP reveals glaring contradictions in GOP party of Christian right-and about Christian right who appear to talk religion up;but what they support is something else.

#28 Comment By Mr. Libertarian On April 29, 2015 @ 10:48 pm

@ Balconesfault

I don’t agree with you. I think that President Obama clearly destabilized Libya, leading to more chaos with his bombing campaign there. It’s now a terrorist controlled area, with anarchy spreading. This was an initiative that Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, Valarie Jarette, and presumptive 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton supported, theorized. There was the Egypt disaster where they backed and opposed at various times Mubarak, gave arms to Egypt after coup in violation of federal law, Mohammed Morsi was radical Islamist. You know Palin is a boob. She comes from a Christian religions that believes with absolute certainty that the end of the world is coming very soon, that we are living in what has been interpreted as Biblical prophecy, and that Mideast wars have a justification in Christian scripture. They think that witches with actual demonic powers (as opposed to “witches” that are just superstitious naïfs and the left did not do an adequate job in my opinion of running this nonsense out of town on a rail just like the Republicans did not run the religious right out of town on a rail). Like South Park did for Scientology or Mormonism or radical Islam, I am just being frank about what Palin says and does. This is a severe problem, that is costing us trillions of dollars. You know Iraq was a five trillion dollar mistake that is still costing money, because we’re still screwing around in the Mideast sandbox. But some said it was a holy war. There was an excellent exposition of this in the Academy Award nominated documentary Jesus Camp with the people worshipping Bush. This was the merging of politics with religion, which the Founders knew was dangerous. And this was all related to Iraq War stuff, torture stuff, Iran war stuff, Afghanistan War stuff. I listen to CD’s I have of Pentecostals saying that Saddam Hussein hid the WMD’s in Syria. Where are they? I demand an answer immediately. What intelligence is this based on? Syria is in complete chaos. Obama’s red line was foolish, he does these things because he is an amateur. He has no foreign policy sense. I told the liberals this, but they were enthusiastic supporters. So Palin is not fit to be Vice President, and it was one of the various reasons I did not vote for John McCain. He exercises bad judgment. But no Obama’s crummy foreign policy is not merely a problem of Palin, it is the fact that he’s an amateur with bad ideology, bad personnel, bad judgment. That’s always a recipe for disaster.

#29 Comment By balconesfault On May 1, 2015 @ 1:40 am

Mr Libertarian. I believe your thesis was that Americans do not view Obama as a tough negotiator. I was providing statistics that a plurality of Americans approve of the preliminary agreement worked out by the Administration with Iran and our partners.

And this at a time when probably about 35% of Americans – the Limbaugh/Fox contingent I mentioned – oppose just about anything Obama has said or done for going on 6 1/2 years now.

I agree with some of your assessment of the Obama foreign policy, and disagree with others. But nonetheless, it was irrelevant to the statistics I presented.