Religious Right Resists Modernization of Attitudes

I’ve noted several times how the religious right has become an anchor which is making it hard for the Republican Party to move on from their recent defeats and revise their positions to ones which voters outside of the deep south might accept. In the past when political parties have suffered defeats they have recovered as new ideas took hold. I’m not sure if this is possible for the Republicans. At present they have lost too many voters to win without the religious right and the religious right appears unwilling to moderate their views. An example of the problem can be seen in this case where one of their spokesmen suffered from differing with their extremist thought. The Washington Post reports:

A prominent evangelical lobbyist resigned yesterday over his remarks in a National Public Radio interview, in which he said he supports permitting same-sex civil unions.

The Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), later apologized for the remark, said the Rev. Leith Anderson, president of the 30 million-member organization.

But, Anderson said, “he lost the leadership’s confidence as spokesman, and that’s hard to regain.”

Asked by Terry Gross in a Dec. 2 interview on NPR’s Fresh Air whether he had changed his position on same-sex marriage, Cizik responded: “I’m shifting, I have to admit. In other words, I would willingly say that I believe in civil unions. . . . We have become so absorbed in the question of gay rights and the rest that we fail to understand the challenges and threats to marriage itself — heterosexual marriage. Maybe we need to reevaluate this and look at it a little differently.”

The remark, anathema to most evangelical Christians, who believe that the Bible permits marriage only between a man and a woman, caused an uproar in the group and in other evangelical organizations.

Cizik did not return calls. Anderson said he met with Cizik on Wednesday at Anderson’s Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minn. Cizik’s decision to resign was “reluctantly mutual,” said Anderson, “by that I mean from me as well as from him.”

This isn’t the first time that Cizik has offended evangelicals, particularly conservatives. In recent years, he has taken a leadership role in the growing religious movement to curb global warming, calling it “an offense against God.”

More than two dozen evangelical leaders — including James C. Dobson, chairman of Focus on the Family, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council — complained in a letter last year to the NAE leadership that Cizik was “using the global warming controversy to shift the emphasis away from the great moral issues of our time,” which they defined as abortion, homosexuality and sexual morality.

Maybe over time enough people in the religious right will moderate their views to the point where people like Dobson lose their influence. Otherwise I see no choice for the GOP other than to bite the bullet and separate itself from the religious right and be willing to endure a period as a minority party while they attempt to rebuild.As long as they are tied to the current views of the religious right the Republican Party will have a tough time surviving as a meaningful party of the 21st century.

Be Sociable, Share!

No Comments

4 Trackbacks

Leave a comment