The Religious Right in the US is finally starting to come to their senses and realize that the Republican Party has been playing them for fools for the last 30 years. James Dobson, who recently resigned as the head of Focus on the Family, gave a farewell speech to his staff that acknowledged they have lost all of their battles. Abortion is still legal, the number of states permitting gay civil unions (or even marriage) is rising, and one of the issues that got religious conservatives to go political in the first place — prayer in schools — has gone nowhere.
According to an article in the Telegraph, the problem is that rather than pushing their agenda themselves, the Religious Right — led by organizations such as Focus on the Family — worked directly with the Republican party to court Christian voters to elect Republican candidates. Unfortunately, once elected those politicians betrayed them by failing to pursue the conservative agenda. All the church’s energy was used up by the political process, with nothing left to actually accomplish the agenda.
This viewpoint was summed up by Steve Deace, an evangelical radio talk show host in Iowa:
Conservatives became so obsessed with the political process we have forgotten the gospel.
Personally, I think it is actually worse than that. By trying to mix politics with religion, the Religious Right lost their way. Not only did they fail at politics, they failed at religion. In other words, it isn’t just that they failed to accomplish their agenda, they picked the wrong agenda.
Jesus preached tolerance (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone”) and love. What would he think of an anti-gay agenda? Jesus even drove out the money changers from the church. What would he think of churches doing fundraising for political candidates and issues?
The problem is that politics is played by pushing hot buttons to get your base riled up. But religion is based on attaining understanding (what some religions call enlightenment). What kind of religion do you have when you are obsessed solely with hot button items? A religion that not only loses elections, but also loses their own believers.
Maybe our forefathers were wise when they separated church and state, not just for the sake of the state, but even more so for the sake of the church.