Sunday, October 26, 2008

Conservative Christians For Obama?

It's pretty much agreed that John McCain selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate more to woo back the Religious Reich than out of any appreciation for her maverickiness, no matter what he claims. Will it work? Well, the Magic 8 Ball on my desk says, "Probably Not." Too much else has come down the pike in the last several months, and Sen. McCain has not exactly appeared to be the Gallant Knight prepared to slay the multiple dragons now breathing fire upon the land. Is this the election in which the fundagelicals will finally vote in their own economic self interest? Or will they swallow hard, nod to La Palin, and cast their vote for the GOP candidates in the hopes that God will call McCain home, leaving power in the hands of one of their own.

I found an interesting analysis of this issue in German's Die Tageszeitung, via Watching America.

The basic prohibition against abortion, the right to keep and bear arms and godliness in the Christian sense: this triumvirate forms the framework of the conservative worldview that propelled George W. Bush into the White House. In Europe, many Obama supporters believe the election will be a battle of cultures. But many U.S. voters will pragmatically make their decision based on other, more pressing priorities – without having to toss their basic beliefs overboard. ...

The influence of evangelical Christians in the United States has grown constantly in recent years. During the 2004 election, the evangelical vote accounted for more than 40 percent of the Republican total. The central tenet of these Christians – that the Bible must be taken literally and not interpreted for modern times – has worldwide political consequences from stem cell research to Middle Eastern policy. Evangelicals reject the theory of evolution and believe mankind was divinely created according to the biblical account. Serious surveys in the United States show that a majority believes man was created no more than 10,000 years ago.

It would be naïve to assume that people with such fundamental beliefs will be re-oriented toward more up-to-the-minute questions. But one likely scenario is this: the bigger Obama’s margin of victory, the more evident it will be that evangelical voters played a large part in that victory – and the greater the probability that he will have to address their concerns. A presidential election will happen on November 4th, not a cultural war.

The conclusion, then, is that many evangelicals will vote for Obama and immediately press for acknowledgment and gratitude from the new president by way of appointments and laws that favor their point of views.

While I have no doubt that the Christian Right will expect such largess from the next President (whether Obama or McCain), I don't think they should necessarily hold their collective breath if it is Obama. Look, there's no arguing that conservative Christians have been wielding a lot of power the last ten years or so, but I think that power is way out of proportion to their numbers. Yes, they are louder than liberals and, yes, they actually vote, but I think the rest of the country is ready for a move towards the center, perhaps even to the left of center after more than a decade of righter than right governing.

Furthermore, many younger evangelicals do not espouse the same rigid belief systems that the leaders of the last twenty or more years have hammered into the nation's consciousness. Many are less into the rhetoric of creationism and more into preserving the creation and serving the less fortunate of its inhabitants. The guard is changing.

I could be wrong (and it certainly wouldn't be the first time), but I'm optimistic we are about to see the end of the tyranny of the Religious Reich. For that to happen, however, the rest of America has to turn out to vote on November 4.

May it be so.

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