Disenchantment With Politics Among the Religious Right

Kathleen Parker writes about a schism among the religious right. Some have become disenchanted with being a wing of the Republican Party:

Is the Christian right finished as a political entity? Or, more to the point, are principled Christians finished with politics?

These questions have been getting fresh air lately as frustrated conservative Christians question the pragmatism — defined as the compromising of principles — of the old guard. One might gently call the current debate a generational rift.

The older generation, represented by such icons as James Dobson, who recently retired as head of Focus on the Family, has compromised too much, according to a growing phalanx of disillusioned Christians. Pragmatically speaking, the Christian coalition of cultural crusaders didn’t work.

For proof, one need look no further than Dobson himself, who was captured on tape recently saying that the big cultural battles have all been lost…

Put another way, Christians may have no place in the political fray of dealmaking. That doesn’t mean one disengages from political life, but it might mean that the church shouldn’t be a branch of the Republican Party. It might mean trading fame and fortune (green rooms and fundraisers) for humility and charity…

For Christians such as Moore — and others better known, such as columnist Cal Thomas, a former vice president for the Moral Majority — the heart of Christianity is in the home, not the halls of Congress or even the courts. And the route to a more moral America is through good works — service, prayer and education — not political lobbying.

Moore says: “In the modern era of the Christian right, we have traded these proven methods for a mess of pottage . . . and often in a shrill and nagging manner, which makes our God look weak in the eyes of the world.”

Amen to that, says Thomas, who made similar points in his 1999 book “Blinded by Might,” co-written with Moral Majority platform architect Ed Dobson (no relation to James Dobson). Thomas, who speaks with a stand-up comic’s clip (and wit), has long maintained that the religious right is in left field.

“If people who call themselves Christians want to see any influence in the culture, then they ought to start following the commands of Jesus and people will be so amazed that they will be attracted to Him,” Thomas told me. “The problem isn’t political. The problem is moral and spiritual.”

People may or may not be attracted to them, but I do hope they change their focus towards how they live their lives as opposed to trying to use government to enforce their views upon others. This is a losing proposition which only leads to disaster. The Founding Fathers realized this when they established a secular government. Even James Dobson is cited above as realizing these tactics do not work. Religion must be freely chosen. It cannot be imposed upon others without creating a backlash.

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6 Comments

  1. 1
    Brad Davis Seal says:

    Disenchantment With Politics Among the Religious Right http://tinyurl.com/c5b36c

  2. 2
    Eclectic Radical says:

    It always bothers me to see fundamentalists being referred to as ‘Christians’ rather than ‘fundamentalists’, as if only the fundamentalists were Christians. I was raised in the Mennonite Church and my mother is an MDiv. The lessons of the religious right are simply not the Christian values that my mother worked to instill in me or that the ministers I consider my ‘spiritual mentors’ (if I, as a quasi-Deist whose self-definition as a Christian varies depending the strength of the wave of cynicism washing over me at a given moment, can be said to have any) preached. The religious right has done more than any secular humanist agenda to undermine my faith in salvation or a loving God, and I  frequently find myself wholly endorsing a bit of bumper sticker wisdom, ‘Lord Jesus, protect me from your followers.’

    The spiritual arrogance of the religious right, in their smug assurance that they are Predestined for salvation because their bank balance is still healthy, disgusts me. According to their own fundamentalist creed we are all sinners equally, and yet they pass judgement on the rest of us.

    Cal Thomas is not one to talk about trying to solve moral problems by political methods, he has been spreading right wing poison pen columns about the nation for years. The problem is moral and spritual and he is part of it.

    “Do nothing to another that you would find hateful if done to you. That is the whole of the law. All else is commentary.”

  3. 3
    First Hattiesburg says:

    Disenchantment With Politics Among the Religious Right http://tinyurl.com/c5b36c

  4. 4
    First Hattiesburg says:

    Disenchantment With Politics Among the Religious Right http://tinyurl.com/c5b36c

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    the heart of Christianity is in the home, not the halls of Congress or even the courts.

    May one say, ‘Thank God’?

  6. 6
    Eclectic Radical says:

    The problem is that the ‘Christians’ quoted in the article do not mean such statements, Chris. They are simply saying that if they clean up their act in regard to supporting the Bushes and McCains of the world, then eventually someone will elect Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, or their equivalent president. This is precisely what Cal Thomas meant in the quoted passage, it’s been a theme of his for some time.

    The individuals quoted are die-hard opponents of full equal civil rights for gays and women and this is not going to change. The difference is that they want to work through initiatives like Prop 8 and politically ‘neutral’ leaders like Rick Warren instead of the divisive invective of a Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or James Dobson. They are discussing changes in tactics, not of their underlying strategy of Dominionism.

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