Friday, November 02, 2007

The Evangelical Crack-up and It's Discontents.

Every day the Faith in Public Life newsletter carries at least one story about ideological strains within the Christian Right. So it seemed inevitable that 1) some organ of record would run a story declaring evangelical schism a fait accompli and 2) a spate of "Not so fast there" stories would appear. "The Evangelical Crackup" appeared in this Sunday's NYT Mag and now the push-back stories are going up.

Sarah Posner, who writes extensively on the Christian Right gives five reasons why liberals shouldn't be celebrating just yet. To be fair to David Kirkpatrick, author of the NYT piece, he sounds that note just at the end. As Posner notes (and I should mention we were casual friends in law school), the infrastructure of the Christian Right is extensive and its base is easily mobilized.

The larger question is how well the Christian Right is able to influence the mainstream. For instance, the latest Pew poll shows that "God gap" -- the tendency of more religious people to support Republican candidates -- is narrowing among evangelicals and disappearing among mainline Christians.

The bellwether for the evangelical right will be a Hillary Clinton candidacy. The received wisdom is that, thanks the Right caricaturing her as a dangerous ultra-liberal, the evangelical vote will mobilize against her, regardless of who the Republicans nominate. If that happens, the movement may or may not have staying power. If evangelicals cannot keep Hillary out of the White House, we can safely say the movement has waned.

3 comments:

Paul said...

What the heck is an "evangelical schism" anyway? As I wrote in Jill's blog, Christianity has been splitting into sects and denominations for 2000 years. So what. So has Judaism, Islam, and my guess most faith traditions on this planet.

I'm not even sure I know what the Christian Right is. Or the Right.

These are just US and THEM labels which have all but lost any value in describing political positions. Ask me 10 policy questions and see if you can figure whether to label me Dem/Rep, Red/Blue, Right/Left, Lib/Cons.

The thing that is really concerning is when members of one party think they are smarter than the members of the other, and therefore have a birthright to govern.

I get that perspective because I once thought that way. As a young man, I remember being quite alarmed when the White House fell to the other party.

I was wrong. It wasn't any worse afterward. No better either. Just a different cast of characters pushing the buttons.

And I remember how in college I was praying for the White House to change hands because the party in power had started a trumped up war and were letting my contemporaries get shot to hell for no good reason other than to feed the military-industrial machine.

2001? or 1971? Same story isn't it?

Pho said...

First off, as a rule of thumb before you ask what I mean by this or that term, you might want to look at the articles I've linked to.

As for this:

The thing that is really concerning is when members of one party think they are smarter than the members of the other, and therefore have a birthright to govern.

I can't imagine an honest reading of the post that would lead you to impute that claim. I was analyzing a potential claim in the political landscape. It's something I do.

As for birthright to govern, no I don't believe that and again don't believe an honest reading of this blog would lend itself to imputing that belief. I believe in certain principles and want people close to my beliefs elected. I believe my "side" has to earn the right to govern -- that would be democracy. One of the projects of this blog is to break down the issues and make the case for my side.

Another project is to call the left out when I think my fellow travellers are being too knee-jerk or wandering into hazardous territory.

I welcome all commenters (except Hickman), but please try to respond to my posts as they are. Don't read something in that isn't there. Though you are of course free to cherry pick my arguments and falsely typify my writing if you wish, just as I am free to be richly annoyed when you do so.

Paul said...

Fair enough. It was bad writing on my part if you took away that I ascribe any of these characteristics to you. My mission is simply to stop the labeling and picking of sides, which I think is has become a very serious problem in our society. So I use every opportunity to expand the dialog to that level.

I wish we could do away with political parties altogether.