Religion and Politics: Christians and the GOP 2008
Despite serious problems with the position, there remain people for whom it is true Evangelicals and other “Christians” cost the GOP the election in 2008. The question must be asked why, when no data supports such an opinion, do people continue to hold it? To be sure, some dislike that Christians believe in Creation and not Evolution and that homosexuality should be sinful and not celebrated. But where is the political division in such views?
If Christians hurt the GOP this cycle, then in prior elections: A) the GOP was primarily a haven for FisCons who are now being driven out by SoCons and their issues; B) key issues were more secular than religious or values based, and ; C) revulsion for Christians arose, basically overnight and with no warning, driving FisCon swing voters out of the GOP. Let’s consider these points.
A – Fiscal Conservatism is, indeed, a draw to the GOP due to fiscally conservative planks in its platform. Some FisCons are socially Moderate or Liberal and, thus, disagree with Socially Conservative FisCons. This duality has existed for years. If Fiscally Conservative yet Socially Moderate or Liberal voters abandoned the GOP in 2008, they did so because the GOP abandoned Conservative fiscal ideology as evidenced by budget items like Medicare and Bailout spending, not because a longstanding “live and let live” agreement with SoCons suddenly flared into a civil war.
B – Consider the terms “Values Voters”, “Moral Majority” and “Religious Right”. They support the view of a strong contribution from Christians to the political process, past and present. One can still debate the matter, of course, but however the question of SoCon political significance is answered, it refutes the premise Christians harmed the GOP in 2008. If they were not influential from 1980 through 2004, where did they gain the power to derail the GOP in just 4 years? If momentum is now in their direction, why alienate them? Wouldn’t prudence dictate courting them? If they were influential in 2004 and before, then “A” above applies and the origin of any rift is elsewhere. Either way SoCons didn’t drive FisCons out of the party in contempt for ignorant, religious cousins.
C – Is there then a Republican rift so serious it may have cost the GOP the election? There is, but not in the way it is being spun. It does not exist between Conservative Republicans and Christians. For the most part they share fiscal and social positions. The rift is between Liberal Republicans and Conservative Republicans, including Christians. It is Liberal GOPers proclaiming Christians as the culprit. The strategy is to use religion within the GOP to divide secular Conservatives and religious Conservatives leaving secular Liberals to divide and conquer all Conservatives.
Secular Liberals hope to change the basis for coalition from fiscal issues to social issues. They prefer the cornerstone be Social Liberalism with a welcome to Fiscal Conservatives than Fiscal Conservatism and a welcome to Social Moderates and Liberals. That they do so using religion as the wedge is a classic implementation of the pragmatic philosophy emodied in the adage, “My brother and I against my cousin. My cousin and I against my enemy!” Secular Conservatives should be wary of this olive branch and wonder when Secular Liberals will come for them with no one left to object.
The question I’ve pondered is, “Why this wedge and why now?” I found my answer in the biblical description of God as “the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.” Those pushing Christians out of the Party are comfortable with the God Who “was”. That God is a fairy tale good for morality plays but with no claim on current morality. Likewise, the God Who “is to come” is a fairy tale valuable as a threat. Gone for years and not expected back today, He can be used to club the faithful and to strip their allies from them.
What is problematic, however, is the God “Who is”. If Christianity exists in a positive light, people will ask about the God “Who is”. They’ll find the backstory of the God “Who was”. They’ll find the happy ending of the God “Who is to come!” The authority of the God “Who is” threatens Liberals, GOP Liberals included. Rejecting God’s authority, the only remaining authority to acknowledge is their own. This must be protected from all usurpers, real and perceived. If that means religious people get thrown under a political bus, it’s a small price to pay.
This Christmas season, we’ve heard talk about Christ – His birth, life and death. Most of it has been positive. But never forget Caiphas said, of this same Christ, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Pharaoh and Herod also believed destroying God’s Deliverer was the path to political power, security and longevity. History records the legacies of these men and their schemes. Secular Liberals, injecting that same ant-Christian vein into today’s “politics that is”, won’t fare any better. In fact, biblical accounts of this behavior in the “politics that was” should serve as a warning for modern practitioners. The “politics which is to come” don’t always turn out as you expect if you remove the God Who is.
Without doubt, there are other factors at work, as well. But to those ridiculing Christians for believing God speaks to them in their hearts; to those who can’t understand how that could happen – try reading the headlines with what the Book calls “an ear to hear”. You never know what you might hear if you are listening for it.