"Let he who is without sin be the one to throw the first stone…."
Imagine the fun that right-wing, fundamentalist Christians and their henchmen bloggers would have if 17-year-old mother-to-be Bristol Palin were black.
It's not hard. Visit any news Web site and read the comments that flow from the mention of teen pregnancy. Won't take long before some self-professed, Republican-loving Christian defines the problem as one created by black folks.
Well, Bristol Palin, whose pro-life mother Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin seeks to be vice president on John McCain's GOP ticket, has put that lie to rest. White girls get pregnant just like black girls. The big difference is that few black teen-aged moms have powerful white evangelicals to cast their plight in the most spiritually appealing light before the television cameras.
If the outpouring of Christian charity that has washed over poor little Bristol is an example, unmarried white girls might just become the new role models for Christian family values. Or so Dr. James Dobson of Focus on Family seems to suggest in his praise of the Palin's family decision to support their daughter's pregnancy and proposed shotgun wedding to the baby daddy.
"That is what the Palins are doing," Dobson said in a statement. "And they should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances."
What's most interesting to me is how blithely the right-wing Christian Republicans brush aside moral lapses when it suits their political purposes.
"I think it's a very private matter," Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, told the Associated Press. "It's a matter that should stay in the family, and they have to work through it together. My prayers go out to them."
Matthew Staver, dean of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University School of Law, echoed those sentiments in the same AP article, saying everyone is a sinner. "We all make mistakes," he said. "Certainly, the ideal is not to get pregnant out of wedlock. But she made the right decision after her mistake. It's absolutely shameful to put her child in the spotlight. . . . When someone can't face issues, they try to tear down a family."
So why doesn't such Christian charity flow when the fallen person is black or gay or a foreign immigrant?
As a preacher's kid who grew up in close witness to religious workers, I recognize false prophets when I see them. The labors of televangelists and radio preachers bear very little in common with what real church people believe and do.
The media-driven right-wing religious advocate anti-abortion policies, biblical marriage, prayers and creationism in schools, and expect the "free enterprise" policies of the government to support their ambitions. They hate all who don't agree with their narrow views, while making loving excuses for those among their number who have clay feet.
It's fully on display during the GOP convention in St. Paul. The falsely pious wave Old Glory and invoke the Lord's Prayer, while imploring Jesus Christ to bless their calls for gun ownership, torture of detainees to keep America safe, discrimination against gays and immigrants and increased federal spending to fight reckless wars.
Woe unto anyone daring to disagree with their mockery of Christian principles, for they are the sole arbiters of family values.
But the God's truth of the matter is all this has little to do with religion and everything to do with politics.
Neither the scriptures nor moral conviction motivate these self-professed holy people. Their movement isn't God-centered; it's a political-action community dressed up in the cloth. Politically active evangelicals are more about pushing an agenda than saving souls.
And they're willing to use a pregnant 17-year-old if it serves their higher purpose.
Sam Fulwood III is a writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and lecturer at Case Western Reserve University.