Bill Murchison

Critics of the religious right never have acknowledged that Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, etc., didn't just decide one day to capture America for Christ. What they decided was to engage in the right of collective self-defense against unprovoked aggression. (I'm still waiting to hear it explained how a prayer at commencement exercises corrodes our civic purposes.)

You have to hand it to the evangelicals: They got the country's attention. At the same time, they created for themselves expectations too high to meet -- namely, that the elevation to office of people who seemed to believe all the right things would cleanse America of pornography, false understandings of marriage, etc. Any Bible-reading evangelical ought to know something about a human encumbrance called sin, which chains human nature to modes of performance redeemable only by -- surprise! -- religion.

The evangelical miscalculation, in my judgment, wasn't getting into politics. It was expecting that the practitioners of politics -- yea, from George W. Bush on down -- had the power to scourge the devil from his fortification in the human heart. For the harder task of cultural transformation and the spreading of Truth many evangelicals have shown scant appetite. They'd rather sign petitions and pass out campaign literature.

Sorry. The Good Book contradicts that notion. Hearken, brethren, to Psalm 146: "O put not your trust in princes, nor in any child of man; for there is no help in them. Blessed is the God of Jacob for his help; and whose hope is in the Lord his God."

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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