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For the first time in three decades, socially conservative Christians find themselves in a dramatically changed political environment: outside in the cold, so to speak. No more easy access to the Oval Office or powerful friends in Congress.

How do we respond in this unfamiliar role? After all, we have been in the center of things, politically speaking, since 1976. As a brand-new Christian attending the Christian Booksellers Convention, I remember being stunned that there were "Jimmy Carter for President" signs. For the first time, evangelicals were openly organizing.

Later, their disillusionment with the born-again President led to the Reagan surge, the Moral Majority, and the Christian Coalition during the heyday of political activism. The Religious Right became a pejorative term, but it achieved needed political victories.

Those victories are far less likely today with a President and Congressional leadership radically committed not only to abortion rights but also to adding sexual orientation to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which could prevent faith-based organizations from considering sexual orientation in hiring decisions—a huge threat to religious liberty.

So do we retreat into our sanctuaries? Political columnist Cal Thomas, among others, says we should forget the idea of changing culture through politics and just be the church: help the poor, visit those in prison, and so on. To that I say an emphatic "No!" Rather, we should learn from Scripture how God taught the Jews in Babylonian exile to behave: "Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters … multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city … and pray to the ...

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February 2009

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