Evangelical Retreat from Politics?

There is more and more evidence that the alliance between Religious conservatives and the GOP is fracturing. Part of it is a changing of the guard -- the deaths of James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell together with the aging of Pat Robertson and James Dobson has removed some of their clout. Ted Haggard who once boasted of his access to the White House had to resign amidst scandal. And many of those pastors who are emerging from their shadows are taking a much more wary position. Haggard's own successor is pulling back from politics and many of his parishioners are glad.

The GOP presidential candidates as we've seen have failed to catch fire with religious conservatives -- the one candidate most closely aligned with them -- Mike Huckabee -- is still fairly far behind and takes economic positions that are fairly -- shall we say -- "liberal."

Of course we know that Obama and Hillary and other Democrats are courting religious voters, but it's unlikely that we'll see something like what's been transpiring these past several decades on the right.

And such is the story that's told today in the LA Times in an excellent article that details this change.


Fr Chris said…
If there is an evangelical retreat, I will be a little surprised if it's permanent — I have a little greater hope that when they come back, some of them will be on a whole different set of issues (poverty, environment, etc.). But I had a prof for Religion and Politics in college who literally wrote the book on the religious influence in GOP politics in the '88 Presidential elections (he was sort of a Robertson campaign groupie for several months to research it) and he impressed on us over and over that the death of the religious right has been frequently predicted over the last 20 years he has been in academia, and it doesn't seem to materialize.

Have I mentioned that I really hope the comeback tour will involve poverty? :-)

I think that this might be a transitional point and we just don't know how things will play out. My sense is that the issues will change to some degree and the manner of engagement will change.

Rick Warren -- whom I'm conflicted about -- seems like the model of the new conservative evangelical. He's engaged but not overly politicized. When he invites a politician he invites both parties. That seems like a better way to go -- both for the right and for the left.

Richard Brownstein has a column today in the LA Times on Obama's "uniting" philosophy that seems to play into this conversation.

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