"It will be conceded … that a Christian's first duty is to God. It then follows, as a matter of course, that it is his duty to carry his Christian code of morals to the polls and vote them," observed Mark Twain. "If the Christians of America could be persuaded to vote God and a clean ticket, it would bring about a moral revolution that would be incalculably beneficent. It would save the country."
Twain—himself a religious skeptic of sorts—showed more wisdom in this conclusion than some former leaders of the religious conservative community. Since the disappointing 1998 election results, a few among the ranks of the faithful have counseled timidity, retreat, and withdrawal. Religious conservatives have not achieved all they desired since they burst onto the national political scene in the late 1970s with the formation of the Moral Majority. That is beyond dispute. But I disagree with those who claim that we should therefore leave the public square to the organized Left.
I greatly admire and respect those who, though their intentions are noble, mistakenly make this claim. Indeed, many of them—particularly my friend Paul Weyrich—greatly influenced my own walk of faith and civic engagement. We are all indebted to them for their prior service, and we stand on their shoulders. We should honor their past work.
It is true that there is no "moral majority" in the strict arithmetic sense—those who testify to a personal faith experience and who also hold conservative views on public policy do not constitute 51 percent of the electorate. But they are the largest single voting bloc in the electorate—24 percent of all those who walked into a voting booth in 1998. That is larger than the union vote, ...1
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