The publication of Cal Thomas's and Ed Dobson's Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Zondervan, 1999) caused a stir in both national and evangelical circles. CHRISTIANITY TODAY devoted a number of pages to the book's theses (Sept. 6, 1999). And pundits ever since have been announcing the withdrawal of evangelicals from active public life. Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals' liaison in Washington, D.C., begs to differ.
"Presidential candidates may be more open, even boastful, about their faith, but Christian activists are retreating from national politics," National Journal concluded recently.
Admittedly, some activists have become disillusioned with politics as usual and have dropped out. But does this a trend make? Maybe. And maybe not.
Perhaps the real role of evangelicals in national politics is more complex. Four realities not only suggest this but also might encourage us to persevere in our political efforts:
1. Real evangelical influence inside the beltway is not tied to the success of the "religious right."
The role of religion in turning out the vote is scrutinized every election year. Success, or failure, of the Christian Coalition (and other religious-right groups) to elect politicians (mostly Republicans) is the lens through which our movement's influence is evaluated. This is misguided. The Christian Coalition was never the Goliath opponents made it out to be.
"The decline of the Christian Coalition and some similar religious-right organizations does not necessarily indicate a fall in either the participation or influence of evangelicals in national politics," said James Reichley of the Public Policy Institute at Georgetown University during a recent conference. In fact, ...1
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