The recent revelations concerning Congressman Mark Foley underscore the political quagmire in which we find ourselves. Evangelicals must ask themselves if we can work in harmony with a group that takes us for granted and compromises on major moral principles.
There are only three reasons that I can think of for the GOP’s failure to take action in the Foley situation. First, numbed by the hedonistic atmosphere of D.C., they may not have thought his personal excesses were very serious. Perhaps they forgot that pages are just wide-eyed kids filled with aspiration and naivety. Secondly, the GOP’s House leadership may have feared the wrath of the radical gay movement. They probably didn’t want to be labeled “anti-gay” or “bigoted” once again. Therefore, they steered clear of Foley’s follies. Thirdly, the GOP must have coveted Foley’s seat so much that their desire for political ascendance clouded their collective judgment.
If only half of my assumptions are correct, there has got to be a realignment of the evangelical community’s values with the GOP’s practices. Why is this important? It’s very simple. There are 60 million evangelicals in America today. In the 2000 election, 15 million of them voted for the conservative movement. In 2004, 27.1 million of them came out to the polls and made a tremendous difference. In addition, thousands of black evangelical voters crossed party loyalty lines and voted for Republican candidates in 2004.
My hope is that evangelicals will be more valued by the Republican Party than blacks have been by the Democratic Party. Finally, the Republican Party must keep its head in the game! If not, it may create a “values gap” that causes a “Morality-gate.” Additional moral or policy problems may keep evangelicals from showing up at the polls in 2006 and 2008. This is exactly what happened in 1974 when the Watergate scandal chased voters away.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
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