Sunday, March 15, 2009

Downfall, Part 3

Brought to my attention by my friend Mark (who hasn't updated his own blog in a while), this essay offers a thoughtful analysis of why the evangelical church now finds itself in decline, and the role that the religious right's quest for worldly power played in bringing it about. Key point:
But it was all destined to come to a crash. Just as political parties dry up when they run out of ideas, the evangelicals, as Mr. Spencer noted, found themselves becoming irrelevant or worse, a hostile force within families as the reality of our human existence made keeping to the faith a challenge. The world is not flat and it wasn't created in six days. Good little boys and girls who love Jesus and believe in him grow up to be gay, lesbian, bisexual,transgendered or simply not what the bible says they should be. Faith has to coexist with Truth, and not everyone wants to be told that God has a plan for you. And when the political party that rode with you to giddy heights of being within an arm's length of being a permanent majority is swept from power to the point that they can't decide who is really in charge, the last thing they're going to think about is you needy and insistent Jesus-shouters who can't seem to grasp the idea that the only reason they went along with you in the first place was because you paid for it. Republicans are, by nature, a cheap date.
And the religious right is not blind to the fact that it is losing its war to reshape America in its image. Viewed with that in mind, the recent anti-gay conference in Uganda is more than just an exposure of hidden bias and a public relations nightmare - it's an act of desperation. With the tide of the battle for control of the United States quickly shifting away from them, some religious conservatives see looking abroad for support as their best hope for continued relevance.

Never mind how barbaric and oppressive the governments of countries like Uganda might be in practice; as long as they have a large Christian population with the "right" views on certain moral issues, they are valuable and "godly" allies in the eyes of the religious right. That such an alliance might further tarnish the reputation of all evangelicals (and the Christian church in general) is of little consequence, since America is already "lost," and thus any negative reaction that the religious right's message elicits is purely due to the whisperings of Satan and in no way a reflection on the messengers.

By presenting such an ugly face to the world, the self-appointed champions of "God's standards" may well turn the anti-Christian persecution they scream so loudly about into a self-fulfilling prophecy. By legitimizing the use of political power via majority vote to suppress and restrict the rights of a disfavored minority, the religious right has set a strong precedent for future majorities who may be inclined to enact laws that punish the "immorality" of a future Christian minority.

Past commentary:
To Rule Them All


The Allure of Power


Mark said...

Err --

But I *do* lj mostly.

Eugene said...

That's right - it's KJ who refuses to start a blog. Never mind, then...

Doorman-Priest said...

"The religious right is not blind to the fact that it is losing its war to reshape America in its image."

Is that really true? I live in hope.

Doorman-Priest said...

"the evangelical church now finds itself in decline"

Does it?

Praise be!

Eugene said...

It's a very recent trend, so it's too early to tell what will happen in the long run. Given that the primary area of growth within evangelicalism is in the emerging church (which largely rejects the religious right's political activism), however, it seems safe to say that Dobson's version of Christianity is waning.