Religious Right

Is the Religious Right Marginalizing Itself?

Writing for The Washington Post's On Faith blog, David Mason argues:

"Conservative Christians are starting to line up behind Mormon Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. But they’re not doing so comfortably, and not without clinging to a last, non-negotiable condition that, ironically, makes the conservative Christian voting bloc the force most responsible these days for the secularization of America."

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The Idolatry of Politics and the Promise of the Common Good

Jim Wallis
Jim Wallis

Politics is a true American idol, and the 2012 presidential election will be a dramatic demonstration of that reality.

Simply put, we create an idol when we ascribe attributes or place hope in persons or things that should belong only to God. People of faith may be tempted to worship at the altar of politics, but make no mistake: The kingdom of God and the kingdoms of politics are never one and the same.

Our worship of God rightly should shape our engagement with politics, but when politics shapes our religion it distorts our service (and worship) of the One True God.

Santorum Shows the Religious Right isn’t Dead Yet

Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images
FRC President Tony Perkins and Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

Does Rick Santorum's Southern surge also herald the return of the Religious Right?

Last January, the titans of Christian conservatism were widely dismissed as irrelevant, at best, after 150 of them gathered for an evangelical "conclave" at a Texas ranch and anointed Rick Santorum as their champion -- only to see him finish third in rock-ribbed South Carolina a week later, well behind Newt Gingrich and even their least-loved candidate, Mitt Romney.

Now, however, with Santorum on an roll after big primary wins on Tuesday (March 13) in Alabama and Mississippi, those born-again bigwigs and their allies may be having the last laugh.

"People have been writing the obituary of the pro-family, evangelical movement for 25 years -- and they're always wrong," said Ralph Reed, head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and the architect of the Christian Coalition in the 1980s.

Afternoon News Bytes: March 12, 2012

The Nuclear ‘Implementation Study’; The Unpersuaded; Latinos See Rise In Poverty & Unemployment; When Will The Christian Right Return To The Teachings Of Their Gospel? (OPINION); What Does the Kony Viral Video Say About Us?; Why It's OK To Let Apps Make You A Better Person; Annan Leaves Syria Without A Deal; Do Atheists Need Religion? (OPINION); Obama's Religion Still A Campaign Issue: Many Alabama, Mississippi Voters Believe President Is Muslim.

They're Baaa-aaack: Return of the Christocrats (Who Never Really Went Away)

Photo via Getty Images.
Photo via Getty Images.

The Democratic sweep of Congress in 2006 and President Obama's election in 2008 convinced many people the religious right had been defeated and discredited. They believed it was time to "move on," a ubiquitous but dangerous phrase that often blinds people to unpleasant realities.

The truth, however, is that the religious right, Christian Reconstructionism and Dominionism have never gone away. And now they're back — "big time," as Dick Cheney might say.

In the 2012 presidential election, the Christocrats are out in force on many fronts: trying to eliminate prenatal care and all forms of contraception; defunding breast cancer screening; opposing civil rights for same-sex couples; contesting evolution and substituting creationism in public schools; denying the reality of global climate change; and discrediting the "lame stream media."

Brian Stiller answers, "What is an Evangelical?"

Brian Stiller via World Evangelical Alliance.
Brian Stiller via World Evangelical Alliance.

Since the rule of Constantine in the 4th century A.D., church leaders have lived precariously close to showing preference and promoting one political leader over another. The Rev. Billy Graham came to regret his close ties to Richard Nixon, who used "America's Pastor" to his political advantage.

A prophetic distance must be maintained, allowing space between what the Spirit and the Word might say in any given situation, and the political leader or policy in question. The role of prophetic analysis requires distance so as to avoid compromise.

Then, too, we see how important it is not to make our rendition of the Gospel synonymous with a particular view of economics, role of government, social management or civic engagement. After watching Christian leaders running to the beck and call of Nixon, Chuck Colson warned us that the kingdom of Christ does not arrive on Air Force One.

Salt, Light, and Social Change

The year of my evangelical discontent dawned at the age of 22. In 1990, having recently completed my undergraduate education, I languished in a secure job while faithfully serving my church on weekends. Deeply rooted in evangelical Christianity, I could not imagine ever turning in my metaphorical membership card. But I struggled with what I perceived to be shallowness in evangelicalism.

My church focused on personal spiritual growth. Faith had been reduced to an individualistic expression; my ticket to heaven punched with required purchases of the Scofield Bible and Evidence that Demands a Verdict. My years as an undergraduate in New York reintroduced me to a world that I had abandoned when my family moved out of inner-city Baltimore. I had trouble reconciling the jarring juxtaposition of my secular education on the border of Harlem with my comfortable suburban church. My new Mazda 626 failed to provide me with the expected satisfaction of having arrived into middle-class America at such a young age. 

In the midst of my evangelical angst, I stumbled across Sojourners magazine. The content of the magazine proved revelatory. No longer could I reduce my faith to multiple trips to the altar and a feel-good individualized faith. Suddenly, my new car represented oppression rather than triumph.

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Randall Balmer answers, "What is an Evangelical?"

The puzzle here is not that readers of the Bible would tilt toward the political left. That, for me, as well as for thousands of other American evangelicals, is self-evident. Jesus, after all, summoned his followers to be peacemakers, to turn the other cheek, to welcome the stranger and to care for “the least of these.” He also expressed concern for the tiniest sparrow, a sentiment that should find some resonance in our environmental policies.

No, the real conundrum lies in the subtitle the editors of Christianity Today assigned to Franzen’s article, which was titled, “A Left-Leaning Text.” Adjacent to a picture of a Bible tilted about 45 degrees to the left, the editors added the subtitle: “Survey Surprise: Frequent Bible reading can turn you liberal (in some ways).”

The fact that anyone should register surprise that the Bible points toward the left should be the biggest surprise of all.

So, about those "Evangelicals..."

In his column last week, Sojourners chief Jim Wallis talked about his frustration with the perennial misuse of the word "evangelical" by various media to describe folks and ideas that, in his view, and that of many of us who self-describe as evangelicals, don't bear any resemblance to what we understand that term to actually mean.

Below is a compilation of recent media reports where the word "evangelical" is invoked. When you read these, evangelical brothers and sisters, do you recognize yourself in how the word is used and defined? Or does it ring false to you and your understanding of what "evangelical" really and truly means?

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