Liberals aren’t the only ones who think evangelical Christians are simpletons who have a narrow list of “morals” issues on their minds when they enter the voting booth.
You need only watch the behavior of the dominant media, who monolithically follow a tired reporting template, to realize that most don’t bother to look any further than the same old talking heads and public policy organizations. And it isn’t just the liberal media (Washington Post, New York Times) who are in lockstep; others like the Washington Times and Fox News don’t deviate much from the pattern either.
The talking heads are most frequently the Revs. James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. The conservative social issue advocacy organizations are the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the Traditional Values Coalition, and the like. These are the “go-to” folks when a reporter wants a quote on abortion, homosexual rights, God in the public sector, marriage protection, public prayer, etc.
I guess if you say loud enough and long enough that you represent “values voters,” the media will believe you and come running. It’s not too difficult to convince them. Add to that the findings that in the last presidential election voters said they made their choices predominantly based on “moral values,” and you complicate the situation. But what that meant from the perspective of each individual voter is unclear.
The problem is, the “religious right” talking heads are all too glad to perpetuate their unwritten agreement with the media orgs just so long as they get their regular exposure. While doing so, however, they leave the impression with the broader news-consuming population that those few “family” issues are all they care about. Conservative Christians then are therefore often thought of as out of the mainstream and out of touch, because to most folks they are unconcerned with the broader concerns most folks have. Whether it’s the fault of the “values” commentators themselves or the media, you can call it unintentional caricaturing.
But go to your local evangelistic Christian church on any Sunday and ask the politically aware (few are, sadly) what their chief concerns are about the country, and the answers will be little, if any, different from what you hear from anyone else. Issue No. 1 likely is: Do I have the promise of a job to provide for my family? No. 2 (and closely related to No. 1): Can I afford in the current economy to meet my family’s needs? From there the answers will vary, but among the next few will be the topics that are currently hot on talk radio: immigration, the war in Iraq, national security, and public corruption. The point is, you won’t hear in unison from the churchgoers, “Abortion!” “Homos!” “Porn!” “Evolution!” — but that’s what the current media emphasis would have you think.
Trouble is, someone or some group does have to be the go-to for these “social” concerns also. So how do you develop proper God-fearing conservative advocacy without coming across as limited, irrelevant, and ignorant to the “bigger” issues?
The answer is, all the issues have moral implications, so don’t ignore the ones that are of broader concern. For example, is redistributing wealth in order to help the impoverished the moral thing for government to do? Or should government let individuals have more of their own money to determine which charities are most worthwhile to receive their dollars?
Or the war: Is the moral position to intervene in foreign countries where dictators trample human rights and commit genocide? Or is the moral high ground with those who avoid foreign entanglements?
Right now the so-called “values voters” are treated as a part of the Republican base that only need be catered to in election years — if there’s trouble, like this year. Hence Congress has acted in recent months on a marriage definition amendment, protecting the flag, and abortion restrictions. Add to that President Bush’s veto of embryonic stem cell research, and the GOP thinks they just might have them wing nuts tightened down once again.p>But that development may not be enough, according to a report in the Washington Times :
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online