(SALON) — At the Iowa Republican State Convention earlier this month, Ron Paul supporters walked away with 23 of the 28 delegates headed to the Republican National Convention in August. This effort, which Paul enthusiasts also have pulled off in Minnesota, Maine and Nevada, is less about altering the outcome of this year’s nominating process than it is reshaping the GOP from the ground up. Just as the religious right launched its future dominance of the national party by starting at the local level in the 1980s, Paul’s supporters are looking to gain control of the party apparatus in the states. They are undertaking this strategy with the help of what might be called the “other religious right,” made up of religious conservatives who reject the decades-long alliance between the Christian right and the GOP.
Paul, normally seen as an irreligious libertarian, does have a religious ideology, most frequently captured in his invocation of “biblical economics” to describe the underpinnings of his demands for no-debt federal spending and a return to the gold standard for monetary policy. But Paul — much to his supporters’ delight — has always eschewed the overt religiosity that other Republicans have seen as indispensable to their political success, rejecting campaign trail salvation stories in favor of an ideology that his religious followers insist is more authentic, more protective of their freedom — and more in line with their Bibles.