Two recent articles highlight the two biggest challenges facing conservative religious voters and the GOP in 2014 and beyond: how to adapt to and influence a culture drifting leftward on social issues, and how to combat the creeping influence of a prosperity centered worldview.
In a recent Wall Street Journal interview, incoming president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore, succinctly summarized the demoted status of the Christian Right, noting “we are no longer the moral majority. We are a prophetic minority.” Appropriately, this is a dose of reality with a measure of hope. Conservative Christians, once a dominant force in the culture and GOP politics, now occupy the minority position on key issues: same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, first trimester abortion rights, and embryonic stem cell funding.
How those in the now moral minority will remain faithful to their doctrines while participating in an increasingly hostile politics is a question to be worked out in churches and at town hall meetings. Religious conservatives have reason to be worried, and to get working.
Last term, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated California’s Proposition 8 on a legal technicality, and threw out the key definitional provision of the Defense of Marriage Act that limited federal benefits to those in traditional man-woman marriages. This judicial policymaking extends beyond Washington.
Last week in New Mexico, where there are no civil unions or same-sex marriage rights, the state’s Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a Christian photographer’s right to decline to photograph a same sex commitment ceremony. Instead, the court ruled that the photographer engaged in illegal discrimination based on sexual orientation, in violation of New Mexico’s public accommodation law.
This execrable decision highlights the direct conflict between irreconcilable views on sexuality and religious freedom. Those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law will have to choose between their faith and their prosperity. Which brings us to the second challenge: the prosperity gospel.
Writing in the Huffington Post last week, pastor Rick Henderson called out two of evangelical Christianity’s strongest voices – Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer – for peddling what has been pejoratively called the “prosperity gospel”: the belief that God wants you to be financially successful and will make you so if you’re obedient.