In the light of Newt Gingrich’s recent surge in the polls, let’s see how the fortunes of the Religious Right are developing:
weak week ago Mitt Romney was leading in the polls and some even talked about his sowing up the nomination after South Carolina and Florida.
Newt Gingrich’s ex-wife did an interview this week in which details of Newt’s infidelities were in full view.
South Carolina may be the most evangelical state in the union, prompting some to call for Christians to migrate to the Palmetto State.
Today, pundits are calling the South Carolina Republican primary a toss-up between Gingrich and Romney, despite Romney’s obvious practice of family values and Gingrich’s marital past.
So where does this lead? First, evangelicals rally behind Tim Tebow who disregards the fourth commandment. Second, evangelical leaders tried to identify Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic who doesn’t even number the Ten Commandments (let alone interpret them) as evangelicals do (or used to). Now, apparently some evangelicals are willing to overlook the seventh commandment in favor of a conservative Republican.
I personally don’t care how evangelicals vote. Voting is not an act of devotion and is a matter of Christian liberty. But I do grow weary of the constant refrain of faith’s importance for politics when it is so obviously untrue, when a paucity of political ideas forces believers to wrap politics in Christian language. All of us are hypocrites. But not all of us make such a big deal of calling attention to our hypocrisy. If the Religious Right wants the rest of America to take them seriously, they need to acknowledge and explain their selectivity. I have advice — adopt 2k theology which means that you recognize the fallenness of the world and its politicians and so make the best of a bad situation. But if you’re going to insist that religion forms the only adequate basis for morality, and if you’re going to demand political candidates who have a faith that produces the kind of character needed for holding public office, then you better have a ready explanation for your vote for candidates who openly violate the Ten Commandments.
And it would also be good to explain how your identification of political acts with Christian devotion is not a violation of the First Commandment. Admittedly, Karl Barth had his problems as an interpreter of the Reformed tradition. But he certainly recognized the damnable error of investing political parties with religious significance (beyond the indefinite meanings supplied by providence).