Framing Ideology

Andrew Sullivan —  Jul 30 2012 @ 10:19am


Duke University professor of religion and art historian David Morgan analyzes the Utah artist Jon McNaughton, who has been fully embraced by the Tea Party:

One Nation Under God, The Forgotten Man and Wake Up America! suggest a new coalition, one personified in Glenn Beck (and now perhaps Mitt Romney): a union among conservative evangelicals and Mormons. It is noteworthy that Joseph Smith is not among the worthies who step forth from the mist of the American past. But we do see at least one Mormon: among the righteous stands a black male college student—perhaps a counterintuitive choice to represent McNaughton’s own faith, as black men were banned from the Mormon priesthood until 1978. This man holds a copy of a book by the oft-described "faith-based political theorist" Willard Cleon Skousen, a writer frequently touted by Beck. The Five Thousand Year Leap (1981) proclaimed that the Constitution was inspired by the freedom fighters of the Bible, not the free thinkers of the Enlightenment.

While it's easy to dismiss the work, Morgan believes them to be representative of "something powerful moving through many religious sub-cultures in the United States today":

These groups do not distinguish between religion and politics the way that many commentators and cultural analysts would prefer. For McNaughton and his admirers, as well as many more, there is nothing at all absurd about Jesus holding the Constitution as a sacred artifact, as evidence of his authorial intent.

(One Nation Under God (2009) by McNaughton)