Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

The inference in the title above is not meant to be irreverent. It is simply meant to be illustrative. The answer to the lack of political passion and enthusiasm of the conservative movement can most readily come from a surprising source – the Religious Right. Before you discount this assertion let me explain my reasoning.

Four years ago the most powerful lobbying force and voting block was the evangelical movement. It created a positive maelstrom of GOP support. Their influence was felt from every state house to the White House. Many argue evangelical frustration with the GOP was also one of the major factors in the thunderous defeat of the Republicans in 2006. Feeling betrayed, some influential leaders have decided to sit this presidential election out. Others seem to be engaging in a wait-and-see approach to the election.

In the early primaries pundits believed that Huckabee would receive the lion’s share of the conservative, Christian vote. In their minds, the test of the evangelical community’s continued political viability would be Mike Huckabee’s campaign. Exit polls proved that both Huckabee and McCain have received a huge number of votes from the faithful. Several subliminal questions have come to the minds of the press and other political observers. The questions are:

1.Does this mean that the evangelical movement has become fragmented?

…or even worse…

2.Does it mean that the evangelical movement is dead politically?

The Washington Post decided it was ready to notify the next of kin that the conservative Christian movement was now truly on its deathbed. A startling headline read, “Bloom Is off Religious Right, Scholars at Conference Agree; Movement Criticized for Lacking Political Finesse.” It read, in part: “The religious right has fallen on hard times, torn by sectarian division, hindered by the uneasiness of some in its ranks with coalition building, dispirited by scandals involving television preachers and hurt even by some of its successes, according to scholars and movement partisans.” The most surprising thing about this article is that it was not written in 2008; it was written just after Thanksgiving in 1990 – 18 years ago.

Three years later when the movement failed to expire as predicted, The Washington Post in an infamous article published on February 1, 1993, attributed the movement’s success to the members of the Religious Right who were “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command.”

Harry R. Jackson, Jr.

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.