Last month the politically polarizing founder of the Moral Majority, Rev. Jerry Falwell, died. Falwell has been credited with mobilizing millions of evangelicals to engage the political process. The religious right, as the movement came to be called, has been a dominant political force ever since.
With the passing of Rev. Falwell, and with the 2008 presidential campaign gaining speed, some are wondering if the religious right will continue to hold its political power. Or, is a new form of Christian political engagement on the horizon. We sat down with Brian McLaren to discuss the political scene and how he believes the church should engage.
What encourages you, and discourages you, about the church and its involvement in the political realm?
My sense is that the religious right has hit its high tide. I think on a whole lot of levels it has been somewhat discredited. But I think the true believers in the religious right will go down with the ship, and I don't think they'll be willing to change their thinking no matter what happens. It's become a sort of ideology that has been absolutized and equated with gospel in their minds. I meet a number of people like this, and I like them but I can't imagine them changing. No amount of evidence will change them.
My big concern is that with the collapse of the religious right there isn't a mature and responsible Christian response that will fill the gap in a constructive way.
And I'm also concerned that the religious right will have left such a bad taste in the mouth of both the political world and the culture at large that there will be a reaction against any expression of faith in the public sphere. So this to me is a danger, but we have to do what we can.
What we should be asking is, ...