Pastor Rick Warren, multi-millionaire author of the insipid and trite “Purpose-Driven Life” book franchise, is hosting both presidential candidates for some kind of forum (it’s not a debate, exactly … I have no idea what it is … I’m not even sure they know what it is). Warren is setting himself up as the nation’s pastor, with the tacit approval of the media, as seen for example in this Reuters story:

It’s the evangelicals, stupid.

Commentators who have written off U.S. evangelical voters as a relic of the Bush era should take notice of this Saturday’s “Civil Forum on the Presidency” moderated by famed evangelical mega pastor Rick Warren at his Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his Republican rival John McCain will each spend about an hour taking questions from Warren and will only share the stage briefly. …

Evangelicals account for one in four U.S. adults making them the country’s largest religious group and a key battleground faith.

Other media outlets are running stories about Warren becoming something of a religious “elder statesman” in the US. Supposedly Warren is opening the door for the candidates to introduce themselves to evangelical Christians, who largely distrust McCain as being not-religious-enough, and consider Obama too liberal for their taste.

This marks a new strategy by the Religious Right™. Previously their tactic had been to select one political party — in 1980 they chose the Republicans — to promote and push into power, then use that party to impose their religiosity on the country and build a theocracy. With the collapse of the GOP, Warren has modified this tactic, to embrace both parties’ candidates. No matter who wins in November, Warren will be able to take credit for that victory in the name of America’s evangelicals, and force the winner to adopt the evangelicals’ agenda.

I must say it’s clever, and Warren is not without critics among the Religious Right™, but I know the rise of dominionism when I see it … and now you do, too.

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