The presidential campaign—at fever pitch as I write—will be over when you read this, the post-election hype just beginning. Christians should beware the punditocracy, which will attach cosmic significance to the new president's appointments and policy utterances as though the nation's destiny rests solely in his hands.

It's easy to get caught up in the grand rhetoric. Some of us, depending on the election's outcome, may see victory in the culture war, while others gloomily predict doomsday. In truth, the election means neither. Yes, politics is important; the new president's appointments will shape the Supreme Court for a generation. But changing a culture takes more than politics.

The driving force in American life, remember, is what Tocqueville called "habits of the heart," the individual dispositions and tastes that shape the country's moral consensus. So regardless of who occupies the Oval Office, the culture war will be waged in the neighborhoods where people live. And if we are prepared, we can succeed on this battleground.

Take the example of Lisa Hunter from a liberal community in the Southwest. While tidying her kitchen one Saturday, she came across her 12-year-old daughter Ashley's science test. Ashley had checked "primeval explosion" for a question on the universe's origin.

Lisa sat Ashley down and gently asked, "Did you really believe what you wrote?" Ashley burst into tears. "No," she said, "but that was the answer the teacher wanted."

Lisa raised the issue at a parent-teacher conference, but when she began discussing evidence for intelligent design the teacher cut her off. "I'm not allowed to teach about religion," she said dismissively.

But Lisa had done her homework. Having read books on Darwin and intelligent ...

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Charles Colson
Charles Colson was the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, an outreach to convicts, victims of crime, and justice officers. Colson, who converted to Christianity before he was indicted on Watergate-related charges, became one of evangelicalism's most influential voices. His books included Born Again and How Now Shall We Live? A Christianity Today columnist since 1985, Colson died in 2012.
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