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As the Republican Party seeks to regain political control after the last election, some conservatives are calling for a new image.

"As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit," Kathleen Parker wrote for The Washington Post. "To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh."

Evangelicals make up about a quarter of the electorate, and about 62 percent of them identify themselves with the Republican Party. David Brooks spoke with Christianity Today in Wheaton, Illinois, about how evangelicals can change their image.

Do you see evangelicals as the core of the Republican Party or as weighing on the neck?

I see them as the core of the party. Just sheer numbers, politically, the party would be dead without evangelical voters, or without a lot of evangelical voters. But even more seriously, spiritually, … the moral core of the party is provided by social conservatives. Without that core, it would just be a party of tax cuts, and that wouldn't be a very inspiring party. I think social conservatives will always be the core of the Republican Party.

Can Christian conservatives repackage certain issues?

Life issues will always be center — life and death issues will always be central. I guess what I would think is the core issue — which is possible [issue] around which to build bridges — is the family, issues about family togetherness, reducing divorce rates, helping kids do missionary work or aid work in Africa. All that stuff should come from the core pro-life community ...

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February 2009

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