God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat. Certain fundamentalists have forgotten this basic truth, and as a result their influence over Christians has begun to fade.
Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and other extreme fundamentalists are losing credibility among the faithful by putting loyalty to party before loyalty to scripture and ignoring the fact that Christians are growing more concerned about an expanding set of moral issues. These two leaders in particular have seriously overstated their case in claims that God has virtually ordained George W. Bush as a divinely selected candidate. And the Bush campaign has seriously overstepped the proper boundaries of church and state by suggesting that conservative churches give them their congregational directories. This political alliance favors partisanship over Christian ethics and turns congregations into the Republican Party at prayer.
A backlash has begun, even among evangelicals. A diverse coalition, including prominent evangelical leaders, just published a statement that some people of faith will vote for President Bush and some for Sen. Kerry for reasons deeply rooted in Christian values (see p. 35). Rev. Falwell now has only a 44 percent approval rating among evangelicals. By contrast, Pope John Paul IIwho speaks with equal conviction about abortion, peace, and poverty, regardless of partisan impacthas a 60 percent approval rating among evangelicals, a group that was once the most anti-Catholic in the country. Indeed, in a poll earlier this year, Bush held only a 4-point advantage over Sen. Kerry among evangelicals.