Paul  Weyrich

A recent media report on a reliably conservative channel indicated that the God gap going into the 2008 election is now even because both parties have pursued the religious vote. Since 1980 Republicans have held a near-monopoly on religious issues. In 2004, the so-called values voters re-elected President George W. Bush. Voters across the country turned out to change state constitutions, affirming that marriage is between one man and one woman. The marriage issue, especially in Ohio, assured that Bush had enough votes to win re-election.

But the Democrats finally caught on and pursued the values voters, cutting the margin on religious issues in half in 2006.

Now with the help of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and other groups, such as Sojourners magazine, the religious divide is no more. Why? Well, NAE'S Vice President for Governmental Affairs, Rich Cizik, has courted environmental voters aggressively. NAE'S former Chairman, Reverend Ted Haggard, was so busy concealing his moral failures that he paid no attention to the damage Cizik was doing. Haggard resigned after he was caught in the biggest scandal to hit the Evangelical movement since Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker's financial and sexual scandal in the 1980s.

Evangelicals and other conservative Christians originally courted the values voters on issues of personal responsibility. It was wrong to have an abortion because a woman was choosing to kill the unborn child in her womb. Men and women were not permitted to engage in homosexuality because Scripture forbade it and it was unnatural. Government should prosecute pornography because by choosing it over marriage a man was destroying the image of womanhood. Christian parents should be given vouchers so they could send their children to private or parochial schools to avoid anti-Christian sex education and to receive better all-around instruction.

What Cizik and others did was to change the context of values voters. Thus, adopting the environmental agenda became as important as supporting the pro-life movement. According to this argument, one could be as good a Christian by supporting the radical environmental agenda or that of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as those who try to protect babies in the womb. Cizik and others also have embraced former Vice President Albert A. Gore, Jr.'s unscientific and irresponsible rhetoric on climate change.

As long as one is concerned about diminishing BTUs, there is little concern about killing babies. If the religious divide is now even or in the same condition that it was in 2006, it will be a clear signal that a candidate favorable to the radical environmentalists, such as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), has a high probability of winning the next presidential election.


Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
 
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