Republican Resurgence: Conservative Christians Left Behind?

Republican Elephant

With all the discussion of how the Republican Party must begin to re-brand, redefine, or resurrect itself; I found a piece over at BuzzFeed particularly interesting.  McKay Coppins asks, “When the great Republican resurrection comes to pass, will conservative Christians be left behind?”  

Some leaders of the religious right are openly worried this week after a sprawling 98-page report released by the Republican National Committee on how the party can rebuild after its 2012 implosion made no mention of the GOP’s historic alliance with grassroots Christian “value voters.”

Specifically, the word “Christian” does not appear once in the party’s 50,000-word blueprint for renewed electoral success. Nor does the word “church.” Abortion and marriage, the two issues that most animate social conservatives, are nowhere to be found. There is nothing about the need to protect religious liberty, or promote Judeo-Christian values in society. And the few fleeting suggestions that the party coordinate with “faith-based communities” — mostly in the context of minority outreach — receive roughly as much space as the need to become more “inclusive” of gays.

To many religious conservatives, the report was interpreted as a slight against their agenda and the hard work they have done for the party.

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As many of you probably know, I have said from the day Republican Redefined went public that the Party needed to “distance” itself from the religious right.  I’ve taken some blows for that position; but it’s one I stand by now more than ever.  The BuzzFeed piece explores a reality that embraces that move.  While I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the piece, I do agree with the underlying premise – at least on some levels.

For me, it’s not about abandoning Christian principles or even marginalizing people, politicians, and points of view from the “religious right.”  It’s about making them a part of the Republican Party, not the face of it.  If we are to be the party of the Constitution and Founding Principles, we must take a more consistent approach to our defense of said document and principles.  We cannot assume one religious view over another or we disregard a fundamental element of Freedom enumerated in our Bill of Rights.  We may very well “prefer” candidates and elected officials who share our religious views, but a preference and a mandate are two entirely different things.

Essentially, I look at the matter on two levels – the practical and the philosophical.

First the practical.  If we are to grow our base – or at least our reach – we cannot remain the party of old ideals.  We can’t continue to use the same arguments and think they’re going to produce new results.  Take Abortion as an example.  What has making a “religious” argument in support of our Pro-Life position(s) done to advance our cause?  While the Left turns to “science” to justify its positions on things like Global Warming, we need to turn the tide on them and let their view of science bend them to the realization that Life begins at conception.  Doing so immediately advances the argument three steps down the road.

Beyond that, barring the emergence of a third party, where else are those who allow religion to guide their politics going to go?

Next the philosophical or ideological.  Where in the Constitution does it say that “Marriage” is a matter intended to be determined by the federal government?  An institution as important as marriage would have surely been included therein if the Founders thought it needed protection.  Perhaps, they saw it as a matter left to the States, or the People.  On any other issue that would be our “conservative” position, no?

Then why not this one, too?  Is Gay Marriage really that much of a deal-breaker?  Is it worth the cost of continuing to let the Party look like the intolerant choice?  I say absolutely not.  And the generation behind me would hardly understand the question.  As a Christian, I believe in tolerance.  I don’t have to “accept” every decision another person makes to “accept” their Right to do it.  As the party we oppose at every turn continued intrusions by government into our personal lives.  Can we really also be the party that attempts to intrude upon a union between two people?

Does distancing ourselves from the religious right mean abandoning them/it?  Of course not.  First, like I said, they’re not going anywhere.  There’s no other choice.  Second, as a country, we are fast approaching a point of no return economically speaking.  Rising debt, deficits, and entitlement burdens threaten to undermine the power and influence of our great republic.  If we do not act now, future generations will only know about American greatness by reading about it in history books.  Have you ever thought to yourself – I wonder what it’s like for Italians to think about how Rome used to be the center of the known universe?  How the English feel when they read about how once upon a time the sun never set on the British Empire?

Because we face these great fiscal challenges, we cannot afford to be the minority party in Washington for another two, four, six, or even eight years.  Controlling one half of one third of government means business as usual and continuing on the current economic trajectory.  If loosely embracing same sex marriage and admitting science is real can play a part in reversing that trend, I am all for leaving anyone not paying attention to our economic realities behind.

 

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Photo Credit: The Elephant Speaks

 

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