Friday, December 01, 2006

The Growing Split between Evangelicals and Republicans

Ben Witherington passes along an article from (accessing the original will require registration with the site) that discusses the growing divide between Evangelicals and the Republican party. The main thesis is that the Republican coalition was largely between libertarian conservatives who wanted limited government for its own sake and Evangelical conservatives who wanted limited government because they were opposed to the secularism of government social programs. In my own point of view, this portrayal is too reductionistic, but is a useful vantage point in looking at the developing split.

Some quotes from the article:
The sense among the evangelical grassroots is that the Republican Party has used them, but only paid lip service to their goals, aspirations and values. [... Former White House aide David Kuo] alleged that the nonreligious White House staff scoffed at the evangelicals, referring to them as "crazies" and treating them like a captive political group; on this last point akin to how Democrats treat African-American voters.


At the core of this new political outlook [recently advocated by Evangelical leaders] is a growing sense that the libertarian battle is lost, but the Christian mission of helping the poor remains. Evangelicals argue that by shunning aggressively secular government involvement in issues relating to poverty and other things, libertarian approaches were preferable, but they now add that failing in the libertarian mission is not an excuse to stop helping the poor or working toward other Christian missions such as environmental stewardship.
[Emphasis mine]
A friend of mine and I were recently talking about politics, and he made the statement that, because of Democratic hostility toward biblically-based positions on such issues as abortion and homosexuality, Christians essentially had nowhere else to go but the Republican party. It seems to me that this is only true if one narrows the field of issues on which there is a discernable "Christian" point of view to those particular issues--and that's what we have wrongly done. If one broadens the field to include such issues as poverty and social justice, then one may have to choose between two candidates, neither of whom supports all the issues one may hope he would, based on which one supports more of one's issues, and also based on which of these issues that particular office will have an impact on.

If nothing else, reexamining the reasons why we support the candidates and parties that we do is a healthy thing. I, for one, have for a long time expected American Christians to be squeezed out of the political process, between an increasingly libertarian Republican party and an increasingly socialistic Democratic party. I don't relish this development, but I don't think that being taken for granted in the back pocket of one party is a viable alternative.

1 comment:

  1. Once again, I find strong agreement with what you say. From an overseas perspective, it amazes me that evangelical Christianity seems to be so tied into one political party - and especially when there are many things that are actively un-christian about that party.

    In the UK, no one party sways the evangelical vote - and that is the way it should be. We also have the advantage of more than two choices - which in Wales, at least, give a much more consensual approach to politics, as parties must work together to get things done.

    Unfortunately the British parliament and the American system heavily favour the first two parties - which I think is a bad thing. The Welsh Assembly, on the other hand, has proportional representation - which is good for democracy. Whether it allows a Christian viewpoint to be more adequately expressed, I don't know.