Is The Evangelical Right Really Turning on Itself?

I'm a bit late looking at this piece from Friday's Washington Post by conservative columnist Kathleen Parker (Parker, if you'll recall, is a smarter-than-average right-winger who was absolutely excoriated by her National Review readers for the heretical view that Sarah Palin was a dangerous know-nothing who had no place being within a heartbeat of the Oval Office).


In it, Parker describes a rift between the old-guard of the Religious Right, and a younger generation who believe that their leadership has just been too accommodating, and should have worked harder to beat back the arrival of the 21st 20th 19th century ...

Is the Christian right finished as a political entity? Or, more to the point, are principled Christians finished with politics?

These questions have been getting fresh air lately as frustrated conservative Christians question the pragmatism -- defined as the compromising of principles -- of the old guard. One might gently call the current debate a generational rift.

The older generation, represented by such icons as James Dobson, who recently retired as head of Focus on the Family, has compromised too much, according to a growing phalanx of disillusioned Christians. Pragmatically speaking, the Christian coalition of cultural crusaders didn't work.

For proof, one need look no further than Dobson himself, who was captured on tape recently saying that the big cultural battles have all been lost.

That's right, Dobson, who said after the 9/11 attacks, "I certainly believe that God is displeased with America for its pride and arrogance, for killing 40 million unborn babies, for the universality of profanity and for other forms of immorality" isn't sufficiently dogmatic for the young 'uns.

Actually, that's not fair; Parker argues not that their leaders' rhetoric has been lacking in zeal, but that their willingness to compromise in order to hitch their proverbial wagon to the fortunes of the GOP, a party whose leadership doesn't care about school prayer half as much as repealing the Estate Tax, is the problem.

[Christian Broadcaster Steve Deace's] point was that established Christian activist groups too often settle for lesser evils in exchange for electing Republicans. He cited as examples Dobson's support of Mitt Romney and John McCain, neither of whom is pro-life or pro-family enough from Deace's perspective.

Compromise may be the grease of politics, but it has no place in Christian orthodoxy, according to Deace.

Put another way, Christians may have no place in the political fray of dealmaking. That doesn't mean one disengages from political life, but it might mean that the church shouldn't be a branch of the Republican Party. It might mean trading fame and fortune (green rooms and fundraisers) for humility and charity.

Parker goes on to quote E. Ray Moore -- "founder of the South Carolina-based Exodus Mandate, an initiative to encourage Christian education and home schooling":

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