A few weeks ago, Jim Wallis pledged that we who write about the Religious Right--including those of us on this blog--would not treat them the way they have treated us. Which is to say, we will always keep in mind that, as I'm constantly reminding my mom, even Karl Rove is a child of God and should be treated as such.
That does not, however, mean that some of us will be shy about pointing out instances when our interlocutors on the right seek to muddy the facts, engage in hypocrisy, or speak about us in decidedly un-Christian terms. And before you start yelling "Plank in your eye!", I spend much of my time--some would say too much--taking folks on the left to task when they use stereotypes to describe religious conservatives or question whether people of faith should be involved in politics. Pointing out a few optical specks on the right is hardly unfair.
Let's start with Ralph Reed, who engaged in a mostly thoughtful and civil dialogue here with Jim last week, but who started the exchange by declaring himself shocked that anyone would think all religious conservatives care about is abortion and gay marriage. Where would anyone get that idea? And while he's right that many evangelicals, particularly in the grassroots, care about issues like poverty and human trafficking and the environment and health care, it's just disingenuous to argue that the leaders of the Christian Right publicly promote a broad agenda.
The three Justice Sundays so far have been about abortion and gay marriage and installing judges who would outlaw both. A letter the Alliance Defense Fund and Family Research Council sent out last week encouraging pastors to get involved with political issues mentions two, and only two: sanctity of life and protection of marriage. Ditto the material for the Values Voters Summit last weekend. Even Rick Warren, whose agenda has broadened quite a bit since the 2004 election, sent out a voter guide in November 2004 that highlighted five issues: abortion, abortion, gay marriage, human cloning, euthanasia.
If the leaders of the Christian Right decide that it's most important to focus directly on abortion and gay marriage, that's completely fine. But they shouldn't pretend otherwise, nor attack as uncharitable and dishonest those who question that decision.