Ten minutes after the polls close, Tom Prichard is nursing a strawberry soda that matches the red "I Voted" sticker he wears on his chest. He's seated at a four-top in Rix, a mom-and-pop café off Penn Avenue in North Minneapolis. The joint is a short walk from the home of the Prichard family, which consists of four home-schooled and private-schooled teens and pre-teens; Tom, the father and leader of the Minnesota Family Council; and his wife, who asked Prichard "why would you agree to an interview with City Pages, when the last thing they wrote about you was that they wanted to run you out of town?"
At Rix, the plasma television above the bar is beaming bad news to conservatives across the land. The closed-captioned talking heads are predicting a massive move from right to left and a further slouching towards Sodom and Gomorrah.
For his part, Prichard is unfazed. "I'm just called to be faithful, I'm not called to be successful—I think Mother Teresa said that," Pritchard says. "I think it's true. This life is so short, and eternity is very long. That's what I'm looking for, and if you look at it like that it puts the defeats in perspective, and the victories in perspective."
For the past 16 years, Prichard's business has been to promote family values from a faith-based perspective. Practically speaking, that means sending out irate press releases about our oversexed media and tawdry culture. Most of MFC's recent crusading has gone into attacking abortion and gay marriage.
That last cause, of course, became the laughingstock of the election after a few of Pritchard's fellow soldiers—Mark Foley, Ted Haggard—hit the headlines as pedophiles, homosexuals, and hypocrites. This political trip-up leads us inevitably to Prichard's position on homosexuality and gay marriage. "Just because someone is in a loving relationship doesn't mean we define that as marriage," he auto-pilots. "A loving relationship can be between a father and a child, it can be two buddies. Non-gay or lesbian roommates love each other, but you don't call that a marriage.
"This is probably the most politically incorrect thing I can say: I don't think gay relationships are healthy relationships, inherently so. High rates of STDs and disease and other things. The studies are overwhelming. You know, there's a big anti-smoking kick, but homosexual behavior is just inherently unhealthy for the individual, and the relationships are inherently unstable."
When asked if she and her husband have gay friends, Laura Bush once notably proclaimed, "Sure, of course. Everyone does." Prichard, however, doesn't answer the same question head-on.
"We live in a neighborhood with lots of gay friends," he says. "I think we agree to disagree. It's not hostile. We'll have neighborhood get-togethers, and we interact and have to work together. They understand that what I'm doing is not based on animus towards them, and that I respect them and view them as made in God's image. I don't hate people. Ultimately what I'm doing is good for all concerned, because I'm speaking the truth."
But what if Pritchard's truth is different from his neighbors'? Pritchard shakes his head at this fallacy. "That's a recipe for disaster," he says. "There's one truth. Jesus said, 'I am God. I am the way and the truth.'"