A lot of people talk about the mystery of evangelicals running with the Republican Party when that party works against working-class economic interests. But I think in their best evangelical interests, religious right activists should leave the Republican Party. In the spirit of David Brooks giving advice to the Democrats, this is One Liberal's Advice to the true believers of the religious right:
There are two "religous right" subgroups, of course. One group is of the true believers who sincerely believe their vision of God (and often Jesus) is the One Truth, like it says in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and the Koran. These people believe with the certainty of a cult in God's Law, the Day of Judgment, the End of Times, the Rapture, the Oneness and Allness of He-whose-name-cannot-be-spoken. What they know in religious terms is as real as gravity. There is no room for another interpretation (Satan calling) or incredulity (infidel alert). The other group is of astroturf believers. Believers in name only (BINOs) whose purpose is to channel the energies (action) and resources (money) of the sincere believers in whatever direction decreed by the BINO's masters.
Now comes the Democratic Party, which says: This is all very good, but people are entitled to religious freedom and we respect all points of view here.
Now comes the Republican Party, which says: Yes! You are the good people; the others are evil. We are on your side! Heck, we even believe what you believe. Come with us!
I wonder if, and soon, sincere true believers of the working class are going to realize that the Republican Party is not the party for them -- and neither is the Democratic Party. It is time to re-think: Is a political party the same thing as a club, a church, a civic do-gooder organization? What does any political party have the power to achieve in the United States?
The simple answer is: A political party in the United States has the potential power to change the law within the confines of the Constitution and even, at the extreme, to change the Constitution itself.
This seems like (and is) a big thing. Laws and arbiters of the law affect people's lives. Having Janice Rogers Brown judge your case makes it less likely you will obtain relief from injuries caused to you or your loved ones by a Corporation. Social Security "reform" means it is certain you will recieve less money when you start collecting benefits.
But there are some things the law cannot do, and these are the things sincere true believers (not BINOs) seem to be most interested in. The law cannot make people have no abortions. The law cannot make children trust bad parents. The law cannot make people stay in horrific marriages. The law cannot make people not be homosexual.
The law cannot make everyone else pretend to be like you, or at least shut up.
The world is a scary place, and everything is changing, and no one knows what is going to happen. The Republican Party is growing the fear, feasting on the fear. The Republican Party, in the hands of its present leaders, cannot help you.
When you join one political party (any political party) as a monolith and start shouting evil! to the others, you do not advance your cause. People with multiculteral minds cannot see you for your goodness while you are calling them evil, and face it: The multiculturals are multiplying; they are taking over the world, even if you cannot see this in your self-contained world.
Time to reevaluate your program. What do you want? To be a tool of a political party which will not achieve your aims for you because it cannot in a nontheocratic, free country? Wouldn't you have a better chance of getting what you really want by breaking free of political party -- especially since the people you seem so desperate to change do not belong to the party you have chosen?
Jesus meant a thing or two when he said "render unto Caeser." I believe, as so many early Christian teachers did, that staying out of politics was one.
On abortion: You cannot ban choice. Women have and always will chose abortion when they feel it is necessary. The only thing you can affect through law is whether they will be more likely to die or become sterile in their attempts.
On parental notification: Some children will always be afraid of their parents, with reason. Some children will be raped and impregnated by a parent, uncle, favored family friend. The only thing you can achieve through parental notification laws is compounding the spiritual and physical angiush a poor child in such a situation suffers. Did Jesus command you to add to the suffering of others?
On homosexuals: Homosexuals exist. Law will never change that. What you achieve through anti-homosexual law is societal unrest, injustice, and human sorrow. Jesus didn't talk about homosexuals, but he did talk about Samaritans and lepers, the "undesireables" of his day. He broke bread with them. He never said to persecute them.
To get your message out in a way that the people you are "talking about" might become the people you are "talking to," you must break away from political party and start speaking as a religious voice in the great tradition of American religious freedom. There may be less obvious power in it. It may be less grandiose and ego-flattering. But you will have a better chance of achieving results.
Choice in all things cultural is the only way. Real belief does not come from force but from education, enlightment, conversion. How will you reach across the divide with the ugly thing the Republican Party has become standing in the way?
Joining the Democratic Party is not the answer, either. Join parties and vote for candidates who will enact laws that make your and all American lives better where law is able to do so. Render unto God what is God's.
You must become apolitical in your evangelicalism, throw down the swords, pick up the ploughshares and till in the soil of the human condition.