May 22, 2012
The "Religious Right" is once again the subject of great media scrutiny. Just look for the term in any search engine, and more articles than one reasonably can read will pop-up. Most will be caustic, a few will smack of an academic detachment that borders, invariably, on the condescending, and the majority will be uncomprehending.
The demise of the Religious Right is reported copiously and regularly every four years or so. Odd; why is this dying breed so rigorously and persistently courted or deliberately ignored by politicians whenever they seek election?
As a Christian working for a large socially conservative organization, generally I don't recognize the caricatures of religious activists that appear in the popular prints. Some leader made an off-the-wall statement 15 years ago and, apparently, it represents the thought and conduct of tens of millions to this day. Illogical as this is, it is the steadfast trope of the Left.
Thus, I read with great gratification John Mark Reynolds' "The Other Religious Right." Professor Reynolds, an Evangelical, observes that "the comment boxes on blogs, left and right, are full of people who see their Party as Good and the other Party as Orcs, but in real life those folk are rare. I have met them, but I have heard more than one sermon against them. They are, in my experience, marginalized by their own folly."
This captures my experience, as well. The socially conservative Christians I know almost universally are compassionate, thoughtful, approachable, principled, and well-informed. Do they, or I, always speak with perfect nuance or total probity? No; we are human, and thus make mistakes. But the people I know, and with whom I serve, are far more characterized by their forgiving spirits and their eagerness to share the love of Christ (including through extraordinarily generous giving to international development ministries) than by the ignorance, bigotry, and bluster attributed to them by their smug and seemingly mystified opponents.
Growing up my church and my family worked to protect unborn children by law, because it was just, writes Professor Reynolds.
We had not dropped this protection, the Supreme Court took it. We certainly werent stupid enough to think the law would make people good, but we did think that the law could protect some unborn children. Periodically, we would step back and examine our motives. Critics were plentiful and happily pointed out our sins. We are now in the third iteration of the post-politics evangelicalism I remember. It is so predictable ...
Predictable but frequent and, Im glad to report, tremendously exaggerated. The humble, committed Evangelical conservatives I know have an unabated passion for the sanctity of life, the centrality of religious liberty, and the importance of marriage and family to a decent society. They are going nowhere, fast.