/>If God is on the side of conservative Christians and conservative Christians
are on the side of the Republican Party, shouldn't Republicans have done
better in the recent election? It's difficult to keep a coalition together -
Christian or not - if 12 percent of your base votes for Democrats.
But defeat offers conservative Christians a good opportunity to take stock.
They should ask themselves whether their short list of "moral issues" and
"family values" has any hope of being imposed on Washington, as culture
continues to resist the approach many of them have taken. Could conservative
Christians withstand another approach, one that reflects a more biblical
Jim Wallis thinks so. He's the editor of the left-of-center evangelical
magazine, "Sojourners." On his "Hearts and Minds" blog on election night,
Wallis headlined his essay "A Defeat for the Religious Right and Secular
Left." Wallis wrote, "A significant number of candidates elected are social
conservatives on issues of life and family, economic populists, and
committed to a new direction in Iraq. This is the way forward: a grand new
alliance between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, one
that can end partisan gridlock and involves working together for real
solutions to pressing problems."
Wallis argues that election results showed him that "moderate and even some
conservative Christians - especially evangelicals and Catholics - want a
moral agenda that is broader than only abortion and same-sex marriage." Exit
polls showed a shift of 6 percent to 16 percent fewer evangelicals and
Catholics supporting Republican candidates than in the 2004 election.
One does not have to agree with all of Wallis' agenda - and I don't,
especially on Iraq - to consider his arguments. Politics often dulls the
senses to morality and "values." That's because of an unholy alliance
between people of faith and politicians that often ends in compromise on the
part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little
offered in return. So, when someone like Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) is
exposed for cheating on his wife and allegedly abusing his mistress, Cynthia
Ore, he still gets an 85 percent approval rating from the Focus on the
Family Action organization. The delicious irony here is that he might have
earned a 100 percent rating had he voted for the Marriage Protection
amendment, which he supported. Sherwood lost his seat to a Democrat.