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NYT Hoping Religious Right Will Go Away

by Christopher Chantrill
October 29, 2007 at 4:29 pm

IT’S as regular as clockwork: the article in The New York Times reporting that the religious right is about to go away.  This time it’s David D. Kirkpatrick’s turn.

The old warhorses of the Religious Right are dying off, and many church communities are tired of hearing about politics from the preacher’s lectern.  They are also tired and conflicted about the Iraq War.  And what about Rudy Giuliani?

[He] could hardly be less like their kind of guy: twice divorced, thrice married, estranged from his children and church and a supporter of legalized abortion and gay rights.

That is, unless he turns out to be their kind of guy.  Then comes the inevitable paragraph:

Democrats, meanwhile, sense an opportunity. Now the campaigns of all three Democratic front-runners are actively courting evangelical voters. At a White House event to mark the National Day of Prayer that I attended in the spring, Senator Clinton even walked over to shake hands with Dobson. Visibly surprised, he told her she was in his prayers.

All three Democratic candidates are speaking very personally, in evangelical language, about their own faith. What does Clinton pray about? “It depends upon the time of day,” she said. Edwards says he cannot name his greatest sin: “I sin every single day.” Obama talks about his introduction to “someone named Jesus Christ” and about being “an instrument of God.”

The trouble with this sort of wishful thinking is that it rather ignores the elephant in the room.  It is one thing for Democratic presidential candidates to make nicey nicey with the voters about their religious beliefs.  But it doesn’t change the fact that the Democratic Party is a party of the secular, the single, and the childless.

Real Democrats expect their leaders to advance the banner of Peace and Justice, meaning more and bigger government programs for slacker liberals and more and more stringent hate-crime laws to protect the GLTB community from the tsunami of gay-bashing that we all know is poised to engulf America.

Evangelical Christians just aren’t into all that stuff.  Whatever The New York Times may say.

Evangelicals are mostly nice decent married people with children who believe in being decent and neighborly and in live-and-let-live.

Most us us could learn something from them.

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Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.  His Road to the Middle Class is forthcoming.


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Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050


Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican


Liberal Coercion

[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State


Moral Imperatives of Modern Culture

These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self


US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism


Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008


Faith and Politics

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable... [1.] protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death; [2.] recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family... [3.] the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.
Pope Benedict XVI, Speech to European Peoples Party, 2006


Never Trust Experts

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.
Lord Salisbury, “Letter to Lord Lytton”


Conservatism's Holy Grail

What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph


Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


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©2007 Christopher Chantrill