Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The decline of Evangelical politics?

Steven P Miller: 
In many statehouses, evangelical influence is alive and well. Even in red-state America, though, we see a defensive posture that spells retreat, if not outright defeat.
Social conservatives (evangelical or otherwise) are no longer only battling liberal elites. They are contending with a growing real majority of Americans who either vigorously disagree with them or do not see what the fuss is all about. These Americans have long separated their workplaces from their places of worship. They likewise assume the separation of church and health care (notwithstanding the names of their neighborhood hospitals). Some of them support increased access to contraception precisely because they are uncomfortable with abortion. 
Many evangelicals affirm these common-sense approaches, of course. The Christian Right does not represent them; in most cases, it never did. Now, though, evangelical conservatives are having a harder time getting away with claiming to speak for all evangelicals, never mind for Christians as a whole. 
We are witnessing the public de-coupling of “evangelical” from “Christian” when it comes to politics. Born-again Christianity is no longer the standard against which religion’s role in public life is measured. This is a pivot from forty years of Carter, Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson, and it seems unlikely to be reversed anytime soon.

We can but hope.  However, this de-coupling is likely to be contentious as the new "religious freedom" meme has the potentially to be remarkably divisive.  Because if your "religious freedom" means you don't have to hire women or serve gays, it means you can reject Jews and refuse blacks.  And once all that religiously legal discrimination happens, we have gone a long way to tearing asunder our basically tolerant social contract.

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