Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cracks in the Marriage between the Religious Right and Republicanism?

Kathleen Parker has a great op-ed on the disillusionment of a new generation of leaders of the Christian Right to politics. She argues that, in the past, conservative Christians have had to compromise much of their beliefs in order to elect (Republican) candidates, but a new generation of conservatives is tired of that (losing) strategy:
Compromise may be the grease of politics, but it has no place in Christian orthodoxy, ....

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.

This new generation of conservative leaders finds the hyper-involvement in politics ultimately self-defeating, seen in their perceived losses in the culture wars. These leaders believe that getting back to the ministry of Jesus is the best time-proven strategy to change our culture:
For Christians ... 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.

"You have the choice between a way that works and brings no credit or money or national attention," says [former vice-president of the Moral Majority, Cal] Thomas. "Or, a way that doesn't work that gets you lots of attention and has little influence on the culture."
One detects a tone of wishful thinking in Parker's editorial, especially in light of her post-election editorial in which she blames the dependence of the GOP on the Christian Right for the presidential loss and the marginalization of their party in the American mainstream. Parker's motivations aside, however, I hope she is correct, as the dissolving of the marriage between conservative religion and conservative politics is a good thing for both religion and politics.

The Washington Monthly, capturing and reinforcing Parker's argument, has this article on the subject.

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