Sin of Omission

How long can religious conservatives go on about protecting kids from dangerous drugs without saying anything about smoking?

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Several years ago, Forest Jones, the youth minister at the First Assembly of God in Raleigh, North Carolina, joined a local campaign against teen smoking. He counseled his young flock about the temptations of tobacco, enlisting the teens to lobby local merchants to stop selling cigarettes to kids. “The tobacco industry started taking note,” Jones recalls. Soon afterward, when he moved to a church five counties away, Jones got a creepy phone call from the local officer of a tobacco company. “It was somebody in management,” the minister remembers. “He wanted to know if I was here to pastor, or was I going to start any trouble?”

Similar questions confront a growing number of conservative Christian clergy and political activists as they grapple with the contradiction between their beliefs about the sanctity of life and the Christian right’s conspicuous silence about the tobacco industry. Successive revelations about smoking-induced death and disease, the marketing of cigarettes to children, and the manipulation of nicotine to encourage addiction are gradually reducing cigarette purveyors from the status of honest businesspeople to that of pushers, pimps, and pornographers. Yet the industry provides the Christian right with a vast grassroots base and a staunch Republican ally. Will religious conservatives continue to accept tobacco’s support in exchange for their silence? Or will they start making trouble?

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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