Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Evangelicals Retreating from Politics?

The cycle is beginning again. Some Evangelical leaders are questioning whether they’ve suffered from being aligned with right wing politicians. It’s time for some serious soul-searching, to decide whether their literal interpretation of the Bible has been wrongly portrayed as an ultra-conservative political movement.

As the Herman’s Hermits song went, “second verse, same as the first.”

Or think of Lucy holding the football so Charlie Brown will come running up to kick it. “Come on, Charlie Brown, I promise I won’t pull the football away this time.”

Now, is this stock-taking and soul-searching for real, or are they just pulling the latest version of their retreat-and-then-suckerpunch strategy?

40% of Evangelicals describe themselves as either Democrat or moderate. But statistics like this are reported periodically, and there always seems to be a disconnect between church members and their conservative “leaders,” who keep using a megaphone to drown out the rank and file.

Several months ago, a survey indicated that 52% of Evangelicals were very concerned about environmental issues. However, they preferred the term “creation care” so they wouldn’t be lumped together with liberals or environmentalists.

And now some of their leaders are worried about losing members because of being synonymous with the Religious Right.

The provost of a Christian college has said “Because evangelicals have been portrayed as being very, very limited in their range of societal concerns, there is an element of challenge in the evangelical community to say, ‘let’s not get caught up in narrow partisan concerns.’ Many evangelicals say they feel very alienated with the partisan rhetoric in the nation.”

He went on to say that many Evangelicals are concerned with employment, labor, housing, health care, education, human rights, racial equality and the environment.

Now this is great, if true. But this cycle keeps repeating itself. Several years ago, during that spree of African-American churches being burned, Ralph Reed (head of the Christian Coalition at the time) made lots of public outreach statements. The kiss-ass sucking-up motive was so blatant, his statements basically translated into “we’re losing the Negro vote. Here’s an opportunity.”

And more recently, one of their loudest and most ubiquitous leaders (I think it was either Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell) gave a public statement / sulking-spree about retreating from politics because of being “misunderstood” and misrepresented by the media. Ahem — how can we miss you if you won’t go away?

So if Evangelical leaders are genuinely concerned about their beliefs and convictions being “used” by right wing politicians, and wanting to re-think their political alignment, that’s great. But if this is just a political strategy — we’ve heard it all before, and we’re ready.


Blogger Skizz said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

May 29, 2005 at 3:30 PM  
Blogger Library Lady said...

First of all, the person above can't write as well as my 6 year old and has far less manners. And why does he blog if all he wants is people to agree with him? Why doesn't he just go down to the corner bar and listen to Rush with the rest of the dittoheads?

Back to the topic. There's an interesting op-ed by David Brooks in the NY Times (5/26/05) where he opines that there is a natural alliance between real evangelical Christians who want to minister to the needy of the world and liberals, and that partnerships are forming. It's a nice thought, though frankly I can't see how it work in reality in terms of things like views on birth control!

May 29, 2005 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger Donald said...

I don't think religion and politics make for a good mix. Neither are blogging and the following list of words:


Tsk, tsk. Such shameful language! Reverend Frist would be ashamed of you, Skizz. Let's see if I can use those same words in a more constructive way.

Some evil, limp-wristed douchebag is labeling people who disagree with him as "libs". What the fuck! What is this shit? "Libspeak" doesn't include words like "babykillers" and "murderers". It must be a bitch to have to resort to name-calling when one doesn't really have anything to say.

I probably could have done better, but there are more important things I could do with my time. Skizz, at least I know we both would probably make Dick Cheney proud.

Anyway, I like to believe most evangelicals are smart enough to spot the wolves in sheeps' clothing in their midst, and to realize that for all their anti-government rhetoric, the evangelical voters are just inviting the government into their lives by siding so closely with the GOP. As more of these voters realize these things, particularly in regard to people like Frist, Santorum, DeLay, Brownback, et al, and the extent to which these politicians are using religion to control large blocs of voters, maybe politicians of that ilk won't be as popular. If they push it too hard, they may meet with the same kind of resistance experienced by Hillary Clinton when she introduced a national health care plan... and we all know the result of that... her party lost control of the House.

I look forward to seeing the Democrats gain some House and Senate seats in 2006. The pendulum always swings, and the GOP's current lack of restraint will only help the pendulum swing back to the left soon.

As many times as I've read tht Bible, I still can't figure out how Jesus could be a Republican or Democrat.

May 29, 2005 at 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Skizz: Well, lookie there, your comment got deleted, and my response is staying right here. Your mother escaped again, and she's turning tricks down on Rush Street. Again. Better pick your limpwristed ass up off the bathroom floor and go rescue her. Again.

If you (or any of your single-digit-IQ friends) comment on this blog again, the references to your mother will get kinkier every time. You've been warned.

May 29, 2005 at 10:09 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Library Lady: I think a fetus has more intelligence than the comment above you (now deleted). His blog had a typical one of those wingnut posts saying that anyone who disagreed with the war in Iraq hates America, yada yada. So I left a comment asking him which branch of the military he served in, and he went ballistic and then banned me from his site. I don't think Blogger has any way of banning certain people, so I'll just have to delete any comments he makes (with a few choice remarks of my own added).

Anyway, I don't doubt that some Evangelicals would have a natural alliance with liberal groups. Several months ago I read that 52% of Evangelicals were concerned about the environment. And the Bible has plenty of passages about usury and greed being sins. I think it's a fluke that Rove and Company managed to forge this alliance between Christians and the Far Right. This alliance seems too forced and I don't think it will last.

Donald: I agree that religion and politics shouldn't mix. And Skizz, the deleted commenter above, is finally up to some words with two syllables; so he's improving (slowly).

I think you're right, this alliance between the Far Right and the Evangelicals will ultimately go the same way Hillary's health care plan did in 1994. I sure hope so.

May 29, 2005 at 10:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I'm sorry but this is getting old. Everytime I hear they are having second thoughts about their extremism then something like Gay marraige comes along and gets them to their old intolerant selves.

Do you guys realize that these guys been at it for a long time for one cause or another? For example, in the 50's and the 60's Jerry Falwel used to preach that segregation was endorsed by the Bible even debated Martin Luther King on why the Civil Right movement was anti-christian. He hopes you forget about that now as Society has proven him wrong especially as he has gone to other righteous subjects to thump his bible on.

(On a TV show many years ago, Jerry Falwell made the statement he had always supported Civil Rights and admired Martin Luther King - Jesse Jackson blew up and tore him a new *sshole on TV because he knew the facts)

See my point, it always goes around, these guys keep coming back


May 29, 2005 at 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Erik: I hope you're not right but I'm afraid you are. I think there are millions of Christians whose political and social ideas are liberal and compassionate (I personally know several bloggers who fit both of those descriptions). But, for some reason, the rightwing political machine is just way too skillful at reaching out to religious people and taking them under their wing. Ideally, religion and politics should be two separate things, but if not, then the Left needs a Karl Rove on their side. If Christianity and Democrats were synonymous (and that isn't far-fetched -- the Bible is full of phrases condemning usery and greed) we'd have control of the White House and Congress for decades.

But I still would rather have politics and religion be two separate things.

May 30, 2005 at 12:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In the Reagan 80's when Falwell and the moral majority rode in with Reagan.

There was the question of what to do about South Africa and Aparthied?

Conservatives took the issue that sanctions would do harm to everybody so lets keep this system that makes us sentimental for Jim Crow. Falwell used his bible skills to condone their feelings (why not he's an expert) so they could sleep better.

He went a little too far when he condemmed Archbishop Desmond Tutu when it was apparent he was beginning to be a force to be reckoned with.

It repeats itself


May 30, 2005 at 12:20 PM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Erik: I remember when Falwell was sticking up for Apartheid. There was a Doonesbury strip where Falwell was promoting a concert called Apart-Aid to raise money for the South African government.

One of the ironies about South Africa at that time was: the same conservatives who wanted to topple the Nicaraguan government, thought we had no right to even try to influence South Africa. "Oh, that would be interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. Tsk Tsk."

May 30, 2005 at 1:36 PM  
Blogger Sar said...

Hopefully enough brainwashed constituents will wake up by 2006.

May 31, 2005 at 10:41 AM  
Anonymous Tom Harper said...

Sar: I hope so too. Opinion polls seem favorable right now, but you never know what Rove is gonna pull out of his hat.

May 31, 2005 at 10:58 AM  

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