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 strategy?
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.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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