The “religious right” is a semi-pejorative term coined many years ago, undoubtedly by someone who was not a “member” of the “religious right”. I don’t remember ever hearing one of its icons, Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, et al, ever using the term of themselves. And an article I read some time back points to the truth that it’s very, very difficult to actually nail down what the “religious right” is, or what it stands for. Frankly, I don’t consider myself a member, though its two most prominent tenets, pro-life and pro-real marriage, are tenets with which I’m in firm agreement. Beyond those two, though, there is no real consensus among proponents of the “religious right” as to what positions to hold. Pat Robertson came out a couple years ago as a believer in global warming, a position to which Dr. Falwell never…warmed. Some back a “School Prayer Amendment” or a “Flag Burning Amendment” (for the record, I back neither). And so the task of critiquing such a movement strikes me as being a bit like nailing Jello to the wall.
That said, there are some general things that I’d like to say:
- I do appreciate much of the sincerity of the leaders of this movement, as well as a good many of the public policy stances they have taken.
- I believe that the movement has caused many to recognize the need to reclaim a voice in public affairs.
- I also believe that the movement has caused many to take their eyes off the ball and settle for attempting to win (often unwinnable) “culture wars”, battling often against flesh-and-blood rather than against principalities and powers in high places.
- I believe that the movement may be in danger of morphing further in this direction, and I offer David Barton’s recent capitulation as proof. When our focus is so much on “taking back America” that we give in to the doctrinal fuzziness of the age, then we are no longer doing God’s work.
- I believe that the movement has needlessly alienated some people by means of overheated rhetoric. Speaking the truth is important, but doing so in love is equally important.
- I believe that the movement is likely to lose steam over the course of the next couple decades. That’s not to say that some of its objectives won’t be realized—or at least continue to be argued—for some time.