The question "Should Christians give up on the Religious Right?" is strikingly similar to "Have you stopped beating your wife?" Any response is a self-inflicted indictment.
First, I do not accept the media-invented "Religious Right" label as a correct description of believers who obey Christ's admonition in Matthew 5:1316 to be salt and light in this darkened world. As I see it, the topic would be better titled "Should Christians give up on obeying the Lord?"
For 2,000 years, Christians have let their lights shine as soul winners, church planters, and missionaries to the world. At the same time, as the salt of the earth, they have been the conscience of the culture. That is what salt and light are designed by God to be and do. We build churches, and, from the same pulpits and pews, we concurrently oppose slavery, injustice, abortion, and immorality.
Second, the triumphant church of Christ never "gives up" on its divine mission. Neither minority status, temporary losses, defections by weary saints, "nor any other creature" cause the church to retreat. Bible students know how it all ends. We win.
Because the culture is rotting, the church does not give up. To borrow the words of President Clinton's chief spinner, James Carville, this is a time for war—spiritual war, of course!
Christians who are openly pro-life, involved in supporting the biblical family as the only model, and politically conservative are often wrongly portrayed by their Christian and secular critics as neglecting their "light ministry." This is usually a bum rap.
Drs. James Dobson, D. James Kennedy, and Pat Robertson are generally targeted, along with me, as the chief violators of the phony doctrine of separation of church and state. I do not know more dedicated soul winners than Dobson, Kennedy, and Robertson. I cannot say the same for most of their critics. For 43 years I have served as senior pastor of a 22,000-member local church, which I founded. Most of these members were led to Christ under my ministry. I also serve as chancellor of a large Christian university. I head Christian institutions for alcohol- and drug-addicted men and for unwed pregnant teens. I have preached the saving gospel of Christ nationwide on TV and radio for 43 years. Over 5 million families are now a part of our Christian ministry of evangelism nationwide.
But if Christians do not also lead the battle in defense of the unborn, who will? If believers do not oppose same-sex marriages, who will? If people of faith do not aggressively defend religious freedom in the public square, including our public schools, who will? If Christians do not cry out against wickedness in high places, who will?
There is a deafening silence in America's pulpits. Some are speaking out. We need to increase their numbers. Our children are also crying out for godly pastors and parents who will get involved in making their schools safe again. Washington is sadly lacking in moral leadership. Hollywood and the television industry are destroying our families and especially the children. If Christians do not cry out, who will?
How successful have conservative Christians been in confronting the culture during the past 20 years? Very successful, I believe. Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said it best when responding to a recent book that says Christians have failed. Land said the authors make a "false and misleading comparison when they compare the situation as it was in the 1970s with the situation as it is today.
"A more realistic comparison would be to compare America's moral situation in the 1970s with what America's moral situation would be in the 1990s if evangelical Christians had remained on the sidelines and uninvolved in public policy. How much more bleak would America and the world look without the leadership provided by Ronald Reagan, who was elected largely on the backs of evangelical voters? In fact, I would count myself among those who believe not only that public policy is a long ball game but that we are winning the struggle for the heart and soul of this nation." I totally agree with Land.
When I started the Moral Majority, I sincerely believed America was in a virtual state of collapse. The U.S. economy was out of control. Inflation was rampant. Taxes were brutal. The most successful Americans were paying a tax rate of 70 percent. The Soviet Union was winning the Cold War. The Soviet Communists were dangerously close to taking over Central America, Africa, and Asia. U.S. military preparedness was sad. Abortions were at an all-time high. Crime, welfare, and illegitimacy were escalating. Overt patriotism had almost vanished. School choice was unheard of. Equal access to public-school facilities for religious gatherings was illegal. The participation of conservative Christians in the national debate on media talk and news shows was very limited.
Today, just about everything on this "bad list" has changed. While no one would credit conservative Christians with every American success story of the past 20 years, neither can we be denied. After the Moral Majority, which I disbanded in 1989, many other activist Christian groups were formed, the most significant being the Christian Coalition. Millions of new voters have been registered. Most of the pollsters agree that about 30 percent of the electorate is now composed of these religious conservatives. This is the largest minority voters' bloc in the nation. It crosses all ethnic and denominational lines and is not monolithic. It represents a cross section of both major political parties and has no undying loyalty to either.
Admittedly, our nation is still in serious trouble. Paul told us in 2 Timothy 3:13, "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived." This moral degradation does not mean we stop winning souls or confronting the culture. There will always be defections. There will always be complainers and critics. There will always be challenges. Christians don't quit. Rather, we redouble our efforts to enlist replacements for the dropouts while we press the battle to win the lost and preserve the culture for our children and grandchildren.
Other Religious Right articles:
with book review by
Copyright © 1999 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more