Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Use of Evangelicals by the Conservative Movement

I've seen a couple of clips in recent weeks that have made me think about how Evangelicals are and have been used by the Republican Party to keep themselves in power by pandering to specific issues, such as homosexuality.

The following short clip is of Tucker Carlson, Andrew Sullivan, and a woman I don't know talking about this issue with Chris Matthews.

Did you hear the statement Carlson made there: "The Elites of the Republican Party have pure contempt for the evangelicals who put their party in power."

Then on Sunday, 60 Minutes ran a profile on David Kuo who was #2 in the White House's Faith Based Initiative Office, who has a new book out called Tempting Faith, so of course he's making the publicity rounds. And Keith Olbermann has been talking about this issue too.

Here is Part Two of a story Olbermann has been doing. It's 6 minutes long, but very interesting.

Here's a link to the actual video on YouTube and it has Part One of the story and the 60 Minutes videos are here.

So, is this surprising? Disappointing? Is it merely election year attacks by liberals desperate to get themselves into power? Signs of a power-hungry administration wanting to stay in power no matter the cost or who they have to use?

Now of course, it is possible to write Kuo off as a sour grapes guy. Someone who didn't get what he wanted and is now selling out his former bosses. Or someone naive about how politics are supposed to work. Or he's someone naive about how politics really work and expected more from the Bush Administration.

And does it matter if evangelicals are being used? If it keeps gay marriage from being legal or limits abortion, does it matter if people in power use religion/evangelicals to stay in power? If traditional family values are preserved, is there a cost too high?

I think politics is about power. Now the idea behind that power might be for good or ill, but politics is about power and influence and I think there are people in power or wanting to be in power that will use any means necessary, and I also think this falls on both sides of the aisle, Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal. I think Democrats are seeing the importance of the Evangelical vote and are trying to appeal to the social conscience of those voters, which could turn every bit as contemptable to them as it seems "the Elites of the Republican Party" have.

What I do think this shows is some of the danger of attaching to one party and allowing Evangelicals to be used for that party, as it seems that Evangelicals have.

So, as always, I welcome comments from all sides. Agree, disagree, or neither.


Anonymous said...

I suppose it comes down to whether or not you think the GOP has really done more than pay lip service and hold some PR events in service to your cause.

Thomas+ said...

I was surprised to hear what Tucker Carlson said in that clip. Tucker has nothing whatsoever to gain by making that up. He is a right-wing media voice, after all. Why would he try to damage the Republican party?

I think this stuff is facinating. Christianity, among all other religions, is most concerned with the human heart. Who is the person on the inside, and what is God doing in there? That is a question Jesus is always going after. If we Christians are happy to allow ourselves to be used for power, just so we can get a little taste of it, then what does that say about our hearts?

Oh, and by the way, Democrats don't love evangelicals any more than Republicans do. There is simply no political party that represents the Christian faith in any meaninful way. And, I would be scared if there was (Constantine, anyone?).

TCS said...

What are you trying to say...that we can't trust people in Washington?

john alan turner said...

The truth about American politics is that government is downstream from society. If we want to "fix" society, we can't expect government to do it; it cannot.

I'm not advocating a withdrawal from politics in America. That is naive at best and dangerous at worst. We are called to be salt and light and leaven and all that should extend to our nation's capitol as well as our own neighborhood.

What I am suggesting is that we look to the root of the problem: individual households.

If we spent as much time, energy and money reaching out to individuals and families as we spend lobbying politicians, perhaps we'd have a better society that fielded better candidates.

Anonymous said...

I think J. A. T. summed up my thoughts pretty well.

Additionally, politicians are human too. In the same way that we can't expect christians to always avoid doing the wrong thing, we can't expect that from politicians either.

Rob Cox

"Snapshot" said...

Get OUT!
Politicans are humans too.
I thought they were just power hungry animals!
Whew. That's good to know.

Phil said...

Yay, Snapshot has joined!

"Snapshot" said...

Far as I'm going.
I've got to go organize an event for some knuckle draging politicians!

Phil said...

I don't THINK I deserved that, but I might have. I've tried to present both sides in this post, while obviously having my own leanings.

If I didn't, I apologize.

Justin said...

And don't think that democrats aren't doing the same thing with Jim Wallis. Politics attracts a certain kind of person. Someone who likes to be in the spotlight, someone who likes to be important, people who like themselves... that's why politics is corrupt. They are human, but the personality that it takes to get into power easily abuses power.

I say let them do their thing. We know they are going to be corrupt... I would almost rather vote for a non christian than a christian, because at least when that guy screws up, its not going to shine negative light on our Lord.

Jeff said...

I don't know about being knuckle draggers, but I have yet to see someone running for office that hasn't poisoned our airwaves with negative campaigning that makes sweeping statements about an opposing candidate based on selected information(e.g., saying a candidate is for abortion, for death taxes, for illegal immigration, against the war in Iraq, for gay marriage, for killing puppies and kicking pregnant mothers in the stomach, etc. because of a vote they made to oppose a new $100 billion grant to research the mating habits of the two-toed sloth that also happened to have a clause that gave money to the Iraq war). I know I'm being a little broad, but the mudslinging is driving me nuts! I was in Louisville this weekend, and there was an ad running there claiming that you shouldn't vote for the Republican candidate because he knew (and therefore, condoned) Mark Foley.

I'm next expecting an ad that shows Harold Ford, Jr. playing Trivial Pursuit with Saddam Hussein and Kim-Jong Il, or maybe Bob Coker driving a van across the border with 20 Mexicans.

I think I'm with Justin that pretty much all politicians are hungry for power. You can disguise it by saying that they are good people that want to make a difference, so they want to be in an office where they can have influence. That's still wanting power.

I long for the day when someone running for an office shows some humility and doesn't trash their opponent to get elected. Maybe they would even admit they would seek the leading of the Spirit in making decisions, if elected. But then they would get trashed for trying to convert everyone, and probably worse, it would come out that they molested some kid or had an affair.

Sorry for rambling. The whole thing just gets frustrating. I'm not quite to the point of not voting, but maybe you could convince me Justin.

Justin said...


Its not just disgust with politicians that keeps me from voting. I see how easily politics becomes idolotry, I see how we are supposed to have allegiance only to Christ, I see how whatever government is in power stands against the teachings of Christ because they are all fallen, and I just can't in good conscience support a government who's power ultimately comes down to the sword.

john alan turner said...

You've committed a grave philosophical error by suggesting that we owe allegiance only to Christ. I owe loyalty to my wife, my children, my friends, etc. I owe allegiance to lots of people, and Jesus doesn't mind.

Jesus expects me to owe him my PRIMARY allegiance, but he doesn't demand my EXCLUSIVE allegiance.

Also, lots of things can become idolatrous. Sex can become addictive, but I'm not going to give it up anytime soon. Same with food. And blogging.

If we stopped doing things just because they can become idolatry, we would never do anything. That's obviously not what God has in mind.

Thomas+ said...

Uhm, John A. Turner is not exactly correct, though I think I hear where he is coming from. Our allegiance is only to God. God then turns around and gives us responsibilities. We are responsible to love one another, to care for our families, etc. However, the allegiance is to God alone.

In Mark's Gospel, Jesus (quoting Moses) says "The first commandment is this: Hear, Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one/alone/only. And you will love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, mind and strength."

The whole "only" thing is pretty big for Jesus. Hate your father, that sort of thing. There are no divided loyalties for Jesus. He is the only loyalty. Extreme? Yes, but that's pretty much just plain Gospel stuff.

Oh, and being only loyal to God does not mean he is calling you not to vote. That may be your choice, but it is not the only (or the best) reading of scripture. But, whatever.

Oh, and I find it interesting how people who say on their websites "I love Jesus" and "I love our President" revert to cynicism and name calling when their political heroes are shown to be not quite as heroic as they first appeared.

"Snapshot" said...

Come on Phil take a joke man.
I'm exaggerating and "trying" to be funny!!!!!!!!! Not working obviously!

Having worked with several politicians, regretably, some are power hungry but some are true public servants.
There's a difference and it's a shame none of you guys have met any of the good guys. But I'm guessing with the assumptions you make about all politicans, you probably wouldn't recognize a real public servant if you saw one.

Keep in mind that making assumptions has been highly criticized on this blog in recent days.

Phil said...

Oh humor! I've heard of that...

Snapshot, in this post, I didn't try to make sweeping generalizations. I didn't say politicians are evil or misguided or whatever. I do think politcs is about power and influence. I'm not sure that can be disputed, but I'm open to other possibilities on that.

I know there are good people in politics, but power does have the ability to corrupt and I think we've seen that, even in an administration headed by a man claiming Jesus is Lord. I think the videos make that pretty apparent. Now, again, there can be other interpretations of the events and the reasons behind the events, besides the quest for power and influence and I would definitely be open to hearing them.

TCS said...

can I suggest my invention of the sarcasim brackets {} to be used to denote sarcasm or an attempt to be funny. of course you can use the more common smiley face.

john alan turner said...

Ugh! This is what I was afraid of and why I don't usually post comments here. I end up getting sucked into futile arguments.

Thomas, you're being pedantic. Saying, "The Lord is God, the Lord is one" is not the same as saying, "You shall love and owe allegiance to him and him only." That's eisegetical and reflects a platonic sort of dualism.

What's especially frustrating is that you and I are on the same side here.

You've created a false taxonomy based on a misunderstanding of the preeminence of God. What if, rather than viewing God's preeminence as an obligation to rank everything else as a distant second and below, we recognize that giving God first place demands that we remain active in every other area of life? Then seeking first the kingdom of God will not mean that we ignore daily matters so we may focus exclusively upon him, but it will mean that in every area of life we passionately strive to honor God.

Rather than thinking that God's primacy means that nothing else matters, it is precisely because God is number one that everything else does matter.

john alan turner said...

Sorry to double-dip here, but one way of thinking of this that might help would be:

Instead of understanding God's primacy as the top item on a list (or, as it would seem in Thomas' taxonomy, the only item on the list), we may view it as the hub of the wheel of life. Every aspect of life, from friends and family to art and athletics and (even) politics, must be permeated with love for God.

Justin said...


You're right, everything has the potential to become idolotry. I think that choosing our politicians is a little different though, because we have the ability to control who rules us, and in turn, our lifestyles are no longer dependent on God, but on our picking the right guy. An entity that operates against the will of God's kingdom is where our trust then lies. Christians in the first century were tempted to look at Caesar as God... I think that temptation is always there in democracy, maybe somewhat more, because we can choose the best person. And when we start choosing people who want to take the place of God in giving us moral commands, and who take up the work of Christians, through welfare programs, the state becomes the provider and people become dependent on having a certain human in office.

I don't know if that made sense. I didn't sleep well last night, and even a 50 minute drive ot work didn't wake me up.

Thomas+ said...

I think that JAT's taxidermy is all messed up. You see, we have to stuff God, and only God. All other forms of decorative animal preservation come from that initial stuffing. Of course, first you have to shoot God. But that's OK, he doesn't move very fast.

Further, I realize that I am Einsteinenal. Thank you for noticing. However, I am not a podiatrist, though I play one on TV.

And, I too would like to keep our relationship platonic, or even plutonic, but with less duelism and more Plato.

As far as what matter?

Nothing really matters,
anyone can see,
that nothing really matters
nothing really matters
to me
(any way the wind blows)

God, that's a good headshot?
Who did it?

Justin said...


that was funny.


Did you consult the thesaurus or are those words in your traditional lexicon?

Stoned-Campbell Disciple said...

You hit the nail on the head. Politics is about power ... nothing more and nothing less.

Bobby Valentine

john alan turner said...

At least we've learned this from politicians:

When you're outwitted, make fun of the smart guy.

Anonymous said...


Still hoping something good can come out of these political discussions?

Brent said...

Phil's recent posts have generated such passion. I've never heard so many people make so many comments attempting to show that they have the best perspective on these issues - all in a Christian setting. No wonder why Christianity has so many denominations - everyone thinks that they're right.


"Snapshot" said...

As for me and my comments....
we will refrain from political discussions here.
It's a waste of time and falls into the category of chest beating!

Brent said...

"Far as I'm going"

Yet you can't stop commenting.....

Thomas+ said...

I'm just havin' some fun with you JAT. I gots ta' lighten the mood.

Justin said...

seriously snapshot, you keep saying you're going to leave, yet, you don't?

Can you explain that?

Phil said...

Snapshot is welcome to come and go as she pleases, as is anyone who posts.

Justin said...

I would agree with that, I just find it interesting that she posts about how she's not going to post, or how terriible it is to post.

"contest of chest beating"?

Appparently Phil, we're all a bunch of neanderthals here, cause we're not as smart as snapshot and we don't mind discussing things with people we disagree with

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