Is the Religious Right Shilling for Big Oil?

by Dan Quinn

As we often have said, the religious right is really a political movement that strategically uses religion and religious language to push a political agenda that often has little connection to the values of mainstream people of faith. Today we see another example of how the religious right nakedly shills for powerful economic interests.

OneNewsNow, Website for the “Christian news service” American Family News Network, has a story today about the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. OneNewsNow exists, the Website says, “to present the day’s stories from a biblical perspective.” But we see no biblical perspective in this absurdly slanted piece. Instead, we see the usual right-wing attacks on what some people might see as a need for common-sense regulations to prevent such environmental disasters in the future.

The article’s sole source, Bill Wilson of Americans for Limited Government, charges that the Obama administration will use this disaster to excuse a power grab and push for unjustified regulations on the oil industry:

 “There’s no tragedy that they won’t seek to capitalize on. . . . (W)hat are you going to say to the families that depend on those jobs [in the oil industry]? What are you going to say to the communities that depend on that tax revenue? And what are you going to say to the American people as the price of energy goes through the roof?”

But where is Wilson’s compassion for families that rely on employment in fishing, tourism and other industries that will be devastated by this massive oil spill? What about the communities that depend on tax revenues from those industries? What about other costs of this disaster that Americans will share?

No doubt, regulations impose costs that can vary for different people. But as we see in the Gulf, avoiding common-sense regulations can also be very costly. Finding the proper balance between those competing costs is a legitimate subject of debate in a democratic society.

But this biased OneNewsNow story doesn’t illuminate the competing interests in any such debate. The story is simply a demonstration of how the religious right uses its influence with people of faith to lobby for powerful economic interests associated with the political right. Instead of a story told “from a biblical perspective,” we get a propaganda piece from the perspective of oil companies opposed to regulations that might hurt their profits.

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