Sunday, September 30, 2007

Headlines that soothe this momma’s soul: The religious right’s political power ebbs

I’m downright gleeful! My day is complete. Any article with the above headline and opening paragraphs like this:

Palm Sunday two years ago was a glorious day for Christian conservatives.

A president who'd proclaimed Jesus his favorite philosopher was racing back from vacation to sign a bill rushed through a compliant Congress at their bidding — a last-minute gamble to keep alive a severely brain-damaged woman in Florida.

That, however, was the peak of the Christian conservatives' political power.

Today, their nearly three-decade-long ascendance in the Republican Party is over. Their loyalties and priorities are in flux, the organizations that gave them political muscle are in disarray, the high-profile preachers who led them to influence through the 1980s and 1990s are being replaced by a new generation that's less interested in their agenda and their hold on politics and the 2008 Republican presidential nomination is in doubt.

"Less than four years after declarations that the Religious Right had taken over the Republican Party, these social conservatives seem almost powerless to influence its nomination process," said W. James Antle III, an editor at the American Spectator magazine who's written extensively about religious conservatives.

… just tickles this momma pink.

But wait! The article has a dynamite ending as well:

Many social conservatives themselves are debating their political priorities, with some suggesting that fighting AIDS or poverty is as or more important than defending heterosexual marriage. That could further complicate the political role of Christian conservatives — if Republicans nominate Giuliani.

"They are making a very grave miscalculation if they nominate a pro-choice candidate like Giuliani," said Richard Land, a Tennessee evangelist and the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

"Most evangelicals have been voting Republican because they were given a bright-line choice between a pro-life candidate and a pro-choice candidate. If that issue were taken off the table, then other issues get oxygen, issues where evangelicals are not nearly as certain that Republicans offer the best answer. Issues like economic justice, racial reconciliation, the environment.

"If the Republicans are foolish enough to nominate a pro-choice candidate, they give the Democrats a license to go hunting evangelical votes."

So James Dobson’s glory days might soon be over? Be still my heart. And …

Pop the champagne!


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