Christian Protester

The placard misquotes Psalm 7:ll, "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day." Not Jesus. The Book of Psalms is from the Old Testament. The evangelical right has no qualms about distorting the message of Jesus for their own ends.

Is the Christian Right in Decline?

May 22, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

The shift from George W. Bush to Barak Obama in the White House has spawned not only speculation, but insistence, that the menacing clout of the Christian Right is a thing of the past, a mere phase in the story of America. The movement has passed it's peak, numbers of white Christians are dwindling, and this force that attacks women's reproductive rights and LGBT rights is done. Or so the story goes.

Obama holds no obligations to conservative Christians, unlike Bush, and has already signed orders that overturn many of Bush's directives. Funding for stem cell research has been restored, as has funding to medical clinics in developing nations that distribute condoms and provide abortions. Meanwhile, funding for the ridiculous abstinence programs has been cut. It's disappointing that Obama has not overturned the ban on Medicaid funding for abortion, but progress has definitely been made. Or has it? After all, it's a return to the status quo pre-Bush. One step forward, one step back, one step forward...

Articles about the so-called decline have proliferated while James Carville, democratic strategist and political commentator, has written a book on the subject entitled "40 More Years: How the Democrats Will Rule the Next Generation," co-authored by Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza, that claims the unstoppable decimation of the Christian Right translates into clear skies ahead for Democrats. He points to statistics that show the transformation of American society as the married white Christian has become outnumbered, and is no longer in the majority - in 1950, 4 of 5 Americans were married, Christian and white, and now only 2 of 5 Americans are married, Christian and white.

The assumption is that the shrinkage of the religious base the Republicans have become so absolutely dependant upon will hobble the Party beyond the pale, but at the same time Republicans can not afford to detach themselves from conservative Christians, as they are unable to attract more moderate or liberal minded Christian voters. Carville says that many "wise" Republicans agree with him in private conversations. Publicly, the Republican theme is that popularity with voters is cyclical, and they will soon bounce back. Carville counters this claim by claiming the cycles tend to be 40-45 years long, hence: Democrats will rule for the next forty years.

But as the numbers of married white Christians dwindled they identified more and more with the Republican Party - in l978, only 64% of these white married conservatives Christians voted Republican, compared to 90% in 2008. Unless the evangelical right creates its own party, right-wing evangelicals will continue to vote Republican in their zeal to limit/ban abortion and halt/reverse LGBT rights. A nearly guaranteed vote from 2 out of 5 Americans is no small thing and it may be shortsighted to so quickly dismiss the power this block of voters retains.

Those who are singing "The Christian Right is Dead" theme song seem to have forgotten two major issues: firstly, evangelicals actively seek new members, and secondly, individual states have tremendous leeway in legislation apart from the federal government. The evangelical right is endlessly campaigning for leglisation to limit access to abortion and have been quite successful in several states, the number of clinics that provide abortions shrinking by the year. They have the power through state legislation to shape America and that is what they are doing, attacking not only reproductive rights but LGBT rights, resisting legislation to end capital punishment, and pushing for schools to teach the bible instead of accepted science.

The current struggle in some states between creationists who are fighting for intelligent design to be taught at all schools and those who insist that schools should only teach Darwin's theory of evolution is an enormous red flag. The fact that intelligent design, or creationism, is actually taught in some schools in America is mindboggling to most in the Western world. Europeans, in particular, are incredulous that the most powerful nation on earth is succumbing to this sort of ignorance, for history has shown us that when faith comes without inquiry, social and scientific progress stagnates and eventually weakens the position of any nation in the world that has chosen this path.

The potential impact on Americans of this continuing battle between the "faithful" and the secular is dire: robbing individuals of their right to common knowledge in order to push a particular belief system creates not only fear and hatred of the "other," but chips away at democracy itself, as democracy depends on an informed populace. We can only hope that this surge of fundamentalist faith in America is coming to an end, but it would be foolish to turn a blind eye to the legislative changes happening in various states of the Union.