Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Kondracke's Lecture

Here's Fox News pundit Morton Kondracke lecturing us mean ol' liberals about the glories of Evangelical Christianity:

If fair-minded secular Democrats went to church - they are open to the public, by the way - here's some of what they'd learn: Lesson No. 1: Far more than abortion, evolution or homosexuality, Evangelical Christianity is about love, redemption, forgiveness, charity, humility, hope and self-sacrifice.

Oh really? Here's Fox News reporting on Jerry Falwell's recent activities:

Seeking to take advantage of the momentum from an election where moral values proved important to voters, the Rev. Jerry Falwell announced Tuesday he has formed a new coalition to guide an “evangelical revolution.”

Falwell, a religious broadcaster based in Lynchburg, Va., said the Faith and Values Coalition will be a “21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority,” the organization he founded in 1979.

Falwell said he would serve as the coalition's national chairman for four years.

He added that the new group's mission would be to lobby for anti-abortion conservatives to fill openings on the Supreme Court and lower courts, a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the election of another “George Bush-type” conservative in 2008.

“We all, for the first time, began to realize the potential of religious conservatives, particularly evangelicals, when something over 30 million of them went to the polls,” he said, noting most supported the president and anti-abortion candidates, and voted to approve 11 initiatives across the country banning gay marriage.

I see a lot about abortion and homosexuality here; not so much about love, forgiveness and charity.

Here's Agape Press columnist David Sisler discussing the role of evangelicals in the election:

As I said, I have a theory about why George W. Bush was re-elected. The homosexual community gave him a huge assist.

Statistics indicate that 25 percent of the voters in Tuesday's election were evangelical Christians. The reason many of them they went to the polls, so the exit pollers say, was to vote for a single issue: the marriage issue – one woman plus one man equals marriage.

Eleven states -- Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Utah -- had the issue on the ballot. It was defeated in all 11 states. It was close only in Oregon, 56 percent to 44 percent, and even there, the folks who allow physician-assisted suicide, agreed -- this time -- with what the Lord God Almighty said in the Book of Genesis.

The homosexual community has an “in your face” attitude about almost everything connected with their lifestyle, a lifestyle which the Word of God condemns. In their militancy they forced the “one man - one woman” measure onto 11 state ballots.

In 11 states evangelical Christians voted in unprecedented numbers, and they helped carry nine of those crucial states for President Bush (in Oregon, John Kerry won the popular vote by the slim margin of three percent, and in Michigan by only one percent).

While evangelical Christians were in the voting booths, loudly affirming the traditional definition of marriage, three out of four of them also voted to re-elect George W. Bush. And President Bush received more votes for president than any candidate in the history of our nation.

If it were not for the militancy of the homosexual community, insisting that they be allowed to marry, insisting that the state sanction their violation of God's Word, those evangelical Christians would have stayed home like many -- far too many -- did last year.

It doesn't get much clearer than that. Many evangelical voters went to the polls solely because of the gay marriage issue. They would not have left home otherwise.

It would not be difficult to find dozens of other quotes from prominent evangelicals along these lines.

I'm fully prepared to be persuaded that people like Falwell and Sisler are actually fringe figures in the Evangelical community, but I see no evidence that this is so.

I know many fine people who are serious about their Christian faith but have no urge to use the government to enforce their moral views. For those people I have nothing but respect. But it sure looks to me like they are a minority of relgious voters in this country. And they are definitely in the minority of politically active Christians.

Kondracke's entire, silly column deserves a proper fisking, but that will have to wait for another day.


At 11:29 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

Hi Dr. Rosenhouse,

I appreciate your insights and kind words.

You wrote:

"I know many fine people who are serious about their Christian faith but have no urge to use the government to enforce their moral views. For those people I have nothing but respect. But it sure looks to me like they are a minority of relgious voters in this country. And they are definitely in the minority of politically active Christians."

From my perspective, the issues are a little more complex than meets the eye. The leader's rhetorhic (especially the headline makers) is not always in sync with where hearts are of the average evangelical voter.

It would seem on the surface that the Evangelicals wish to legislate their lifestyle on others. That accusation has some merit, but the deeper reason for the voter turnout is that of protecting the Evangelical lifestyle. For Evangelicals, they deeply distrust leaders who do not share their religious views. It is as simple as that. And it is a human desire that everyone else share ones values, otherwise one's sense of safety in the world is threatened. The thought of "a country that celebrates gays" is terrifying to evangelicals.

Consider how terrifying it would be if the US were controlled by the Taliban, and you'll get to understand the fear evangelicals experience when they think of a "pro gay leadership."

If their elected leaders are friendly to gays, in their eyes, it means the elected leaders are out to destroy their Evangelical beleifs. It is the same with the Creation/Evolution controversy.

I have no desire to force or legislate my values on any other individual, and I think actually most Evangelicals (the rank and file, not the power brokers) feel likewise. However, it is very hard for an Evangelical to trust officials who court the gay vote or feel comfortable in a land where such a radically different world view which the gays have could gain pre-eminence.

Elected officials who court gays are seen as a the kind of official who will:

1. Try to destroy their children's beliefs by teaching Darwinism, and thus their children's lives will be cursed by God.

2. Try to destroy their children's Christian morals by saying "gay is ok" in the schools and thus their children's lives will be cursed by God.

3. Try to rob Christians of the constitutional rights.

If all this seems superstitious, try telling that to people who hope their prayers will be answered when they have sick loved ones. Seriously, deep within many people is the hope God will hear their prayers and that the universe has meaning.

The evangelicals saw the gay marriage issue as a demonstration that the gays are politically powerful enough to legally redefine marriage, and hence are politically and legally powerful enough to destroy the evangelical faith. The "gay marriage" issue was seen as the gays pronouncing the demise of the evangelical faith, and thus the evangelical were fighting for survival in this election.

Whether these feelings of the evangelicals are justified is another story, but that feeling runs deep enough that it will energize that block of voters to fight to preserve all that they cherish, and that is a powerful motivator.

So your premise that the election was about the gay marriage issue I think is correct, but for slightly different reasons than meets the eye. It was not a fight to legislate morality and force evangelical values on others (as Falwell's words suggest), it was (in the eyes of the common evangelical housewife and mother) a fight for survival of her family.


At 11:48 PM, Blogger Salvador T. Cordova said...

I should add, even though I'm a creationist, I do love the works of evolutionary psychologists like Helen Fisher.

Consider that the instinct to pro-create is necessarily strong and is perpetuated by natural selection. That means people who are sexually oriented to make pro-creation happen (hetero-sexuals) will tend perceive hetero-sexuality as "wholesome" to the overall the population and the persistence of the species. The flip side is they will in turn view homosexuality as "unwholsome" to the population and persistence of the species.

Notice adultery and fornication (which are also sinful in the evangelical world) is rarely a political issue which will turn an election (despite the rhetoric)....

The Evangelicals, in a peculiar way, are perpetuating a sexual orientation that natural selection will tend to favor. They rode the tide of sentiment that is ultimately originating from that which natural selection would favor. So much for this election being mostly about religion, it may have boiled down to some plain old evolutionary imperatives. The promotion hetero-sexuality in a population is a strong evolutionary drive which not easily go silent.

At 11:58 PM, Blogger PSoTD said...

Don't you just wonder how Mort Kondracke can look at Bill O'Reilly when he's sickened by all those scuzzy showbiz types?


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