RELIGION BAITING: SEDUCING THE EVANGELICAL RIGHT
PART 1 of 2
By Debra Rae
March 13, 2007
Religion: “First of America’s Political Institutions”
Surprising to some, French secularist Alexis de Tocqueville prioritized religion as the “first of America’s political institutions” (Democracy in America). Certainly, “running on faith” is not foreign to American politics—nor was it limited to the 1896 election when fundamentalist William Jennings Bryan sought the presidency.
Arguably, Jimmy Carter (thirty-ninth President of the United States) epitomized what has come to be known as the born-again, religious political left. Highly vexed by the fundamentalist Christian Zionist movement, this Georgian Democrat insisted on replacing the balance of power politics with what he called “world-order politics.” Carter’s world paradigm mirrors Daniel’s interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. “World-order politics,” according to the prophet, is “what shall be in the latter days” (Daniel 2; 7). (Case in point: Be careful what you ask for!)
Who can forget the likeness of Bill Clinton in his Sunday-morning best as he convincingly cradled a well-worn Bible stuffed with what appeared to be church bulletins and sermon notes? The buy-one-get-one-free “first couple” was intimately acquainted with evangelicalism in the mix of party politicking.
Thereafter, front-runners of “hanging-chad” fame, Al Gore and George W. Bush both bound their political agendas to religious sentiment. The former, however, squeezed Christianity into a pan-religious mold. In Earth in the Balance, Gore acknowledged New Age awareness of a “constant and holy spiritual presence in all people, life, things.” No doubt the religious heritage of Gaia-Mother Earth inspired his academy award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.
Even so, from 1990 to 2001, the number of religion-free Americans doubled—this, revealed by The American Religious Identification Survey. Conducted by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the survey identified some 1.9 million self-proclaimed atheists or agnostics among us (Associated Press Ryan J. Foley, 2007).
No matter. White evangelical Protestants simply don’t go away. In fact, they represent about a quarter of the electorate and, therefore, attract Democratic strategists who recognize religion as the “first of America’s political institutions.” In recent years, stealth political seduction has siphoned off a portion of them, hitherto the Republican Party’s most loyal base.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) has recommended that the GOP become “a lot more progressive and a lot less ideological.” Along these lines, the ongoing faith-driven political tug-of-war compelled Representative James Clyburn (D-SC) to establish a “faith working group,” encouraging lawmakers “to sprinkle generic references to God and religion into their speeches” (NY Times).
Since 2004, the religious liberals’ impassioned appeal to people of faith has narrowed the so-called “God-gap” in American politics (WA Post). It was then that secularist liberals attempted to use activist/ author Pastor Jim Wallis to seduce evangelical Christians into voting for presidential candidate, John Kerry. With this in view, Mara Vanderslice served as director of religious outreach for the Senator.
Because he’s quick to criticize President Bush’s brand of religious language, Wallis is embraced as a “darling of secularist liberals.” No longer can the GOP use abortion as what Wallis terms “a political football.” Raised in a Midwest evangelical family, Wallis believes that “the monologue of the religious right” has run its ill-fated course.
In this pastor’s view, poverty, the environment, and preemptive wars are “religious issues” to be dealt with by political candidates (New York Times op-ed). Accordingly, at a closed session in January 2005, Democratic Senators met with Wallis to figure out how they could use “red-letter” religious language to pull evangelical voters away from the Republican Party.
Indeed, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NM) freely admits that Wallis works closely with leadership to lure religious voters to the Democratic Party. Together, they train liberals to speak and act like religious Americans (Traditional Values Special Report, Rev. Louis P. Sheldon).
Take, for example, the Black congressman, Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, who ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Bill Frist. A television commercial featured this liberal Democrat in the unlikely interior of a church with a large cross just behind his right shoulder (hardly the expected icon of First-Amendment separatists).
In summary, religion baiting of the Right to the Left involves every tactic from mobilizing faith groups to coaching candidates and staging imagery that manufactures religious appeal.
“God’s Politics” and the National Council of Churches
No where in the Bible does God identify with the GOP! Be sure, the allied religious right attracts attention from both political parties.
Former Bush staffer, Republican David Kuo alleges that, for political gain, even the Bush White House manipulated the Christian right (Tempting Faith, An Inside Story of Political Seduction).
Editor-in-chief of the leftist Sojourners magazine (and organization), self-proclaimed progressive evangelical Pastor Wallis teaches a course at Harvard University on “Faith, Politics, and Society.” Wallis calls his students to “think progress,” pray, meditate, and dialogue about “God’s politics.” Melding liberal Democratic politics into the batter of evangelical protocol inevitably renders the intended recipe unrecognizable, but so what? Religion-baiting liberals hold that the end justifies means—just as long as the end product remains edible.
And edible, it is. A 2006 Newsweek poll revealed that forty-two percent credit Democrats for doing a better job protecting moral values; Republicans drew only thirty-six percent. A reason might well be the ever-broadening definition for moral values. Religious ethic today expands beyond basic tenants of Christology to health care and renewable energy. The latter are advanced by Democrat Jon Tester, Church of God parishioner from Big Sandy, Montana. True to partisan form, Tester’s not-to-be-overlooked moral grid likewise allows safe, legal, albeit rare abortion.
“God’s politics” come with baggage. Spawned by the social gospel of the 1890s, Dr. Harry F. Ward of Union Theological Seminary set up America’s first communist front organization, later known as the National Council of Churches (1907). The NCC’s President, Thomas Hoyt, and his cohorts style themselves as “progressive” evangelicals.
Joining nearly fifty religious groups, along with a wide array of Christian denominations, the NCC is one of four major organizations that comprise the National Religious Partnership for the Environment in sponsoring the fifth annual gathering of social justice advocates (09-12 March 2007).
Social justice evangelicals lobby for non-proliferation, world peace, and conflict resolution for families. They defend racial justice (if not equality), building interfaith relations with Muslims (reciprocity optional), international law (trumping our US Constitution), and justice for God’s creation (warranting human apology—even worship).
Clearly, God’s so-called politics are a far cry from Bible fundamentalism.
World Council of Churches
Formed in Holland (1948), the World Council of Churches pushes privately for unification with the Church of Rome, ecumenical goals for which are revealed by ongoing dialogue with representatives of four major, non-Christian religions.
UNESCO’S “soft” international law likewise calls for respect of “truth and wisdom” found outside evangelical Bible tradition. The WCC slogan is “One Church for One World,” standards for which are outlined in the United Nations Education, Science, and Cultural Organization’s 1994 Declaration on the Role of Religion in the Promotion of a Culture of Peace, signed in Barcelona.
Even so, the prophet Amos asked a compelling question: “How can two walk together except they be agreed?” The answer: By appearances, maybe; otherwise, no can do! Scripture warns further that the leaven of false doctrine “leavens the whole loaf.”
In unifying various branches of today’s diverse religious community, the WCC promotes what Christian author Dave Hunt calls “a religiously pluralistic international community,” not unlike that achieved under Constantine. In the fourth century AD, politics swallowed up religion, thus forging a morphed, diluted version of the pure, undivided gospel promulgated by the early church.
Lauding leavened doctrine, the World Council of Churches collaborates with the World Constitution and Parliament Association (WCPA), forefront association poised to realize President Carter’s “world-order politics”—which, by the way, is parented as love child on both sides of the aisle.
Recall that senior President Bush likewise referenced a new, one-world order. Clearly, today’s fast-emerging global community knows no partisan—or even national—boundaries. Constitutional sovereignty is deemed unfeasible, even passé. In its place, democratic, trans-federal global governance purportedly better serves “the good of all.”
The Club of Rome’s constitution serves as a sort of “mother board” for the new and ostensibly improved world order. Founded by Italian industrialist Aurelio Peccei, the Club of Rome is a spiritually-driven spin-off from the Council on Foreign Relations, America’s preeminent non-governmental foreign affairs organization. The Club’s 1972 report, the Limits of Growth, serves handily as blueprint for today’s bold new economic, military, and political union in Europe—eventually to be replicated worldwide, but in no way friendly to fundamental Bible truth.
Catholic Alliance for the Common Good
Yet another group challenges the religious right’s hold on moral issues specific to corruption, the war in Iraq, health care, poverty, and sovereignty. The Catholic Alliance for the Common Good (its executive director, Alexia Kelley) joins the ever-expanding do-gooders club by fashioning a liberal Christian as one who “puts away childish things,” 1 Corinthians 13:11.
Increasing numbers dismiss as irrelevant (even “childish”) God’s having “no respect of persons.” You see, selective tolerance that marbles “diversity” favors liberal- over fundamental- values. Call for “community” favors the Global Village over “one [indivisible] nation under God”; and so-called egalitarianism (actually pseudo-egalitarianism) favors minority races, gender, and sexual orientation over their majority counterparts.
Never mind that gender and racial affirmative action, mandated quotas and set-asides fail to eliminate, but rather reverse discrimination. Forget feminist activist Ellen Willis’ startling confession that “the objective of every feminist reform, from legal abortion to child-care programs” is—not to humanize women—but rather to “undermine traditional Family values” (the Nation, 1981 article). Ours is a burgeoning brave, new world in which “women are people, too.”
No longer does “father know best,” especially when it comes to the heavenly Father. As once observed by George Orwell, “When manipulators of mass opinion proclaim a hate campaign [say, against gays], people of faith find it hard to resist.” Even within the faith community, proponents of gay marriage apparently fancy themselves to be more loving and accepting than God. Having put away “childish things,” many politically savvy, “enlightened” believers sidetrack Bible mandate in the misguided, albeit conciliatory gesture of welcoming to their pulpits out-of-the-closet clergy.
On a broader scale, by redistributing wealth—its codeword, “globalization”—a favored power-elite is expected to provide everything needed for “the common good” of our global family—or should I say village? Unlike visionary capitalists, socialists discredit entrepreneurial prowess as simply unsustainable. So, then, let’s say you have two hens. In the new paradigm, government takes them both; and with the appearance of magnanimity, provides you with eggs. In contrast, a resourceful capitalist with two hens will sell one for profit to buy a rooster. As commended stewards of Matthew 25:14ff, these not only preserve, but also increase wealth. It’s after all the American way. “Allies for the common good” mirror “foolish Galatians,” whom the apostle Paul fingered as man-pleasers more so than God-servers. For part 2 click below.
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Daughter of an Army Colonel, Debra graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa. She then completed a Master of Education degree from the University of Washington. These were followed by Bachelor of Theology and Master of Ministries degrees-both from Pacific School of Theology.
While a teacher in Kuwait, Debra undertook a three-month journey from the Persian Gulf to London by means of VW "bug"! One summer, she tutored the daughter of Kuwait's Head of Parliament while serving as superintendent of Kuwait's first Vacation Bible School.
Having authored the ABCs of Globalism and ABCs of Cultural -Isms, Debra speaks to Christian and secular groups alike. Her radio spots air globally. Presently, Debra co-hosts WOMANTalk radio with Sharon Hughes and Friends, and she contributes monthly commentaries to Changing Worldviews and NewsWithViews.com. Debra calls the Pacific Northwest home.
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