Is the Religious Right Dead?

Posted: Nov 04, 2007 12:00 AM
Is the Religious Right Dead?

Radio host and columnist Frank Pastore interviews Tony Perkins, former Louisiana legislator and president of the Family Research Council.

Frank Pastore: There is a huge effort by the mainstream media and on the left … to get you convinced that conservative Christianity is on the way out. Folks in the mainstream media are trying to pound that message down your throat. There are some willing accomplices at seminaries and even denominations and so it is important to hear from “the leadership” on what is actually is going on. How are we doing on the battle, in the culture war? Are we having an influence? …

It’s not time to get discouraged—now is the time to rally and to realize that we are not about a political party. We are about God’s Kingdom, and that is really the larger theme…. You know that there is an effort to try to discourage the conservative evangelical voter—that, “You know what? You don’t count anymore. You don’t matter. Your agenda’s old hat, look what the Republican Party is doing. You conservative Christians, go have a holy huddle on Sunday morning and go back to doing that, because you don’t have any influence on culture.”

Tony Perkins: It’s fascinating. You see these stories that cycle [through] about every four to eight years. I am actually working on a book with Bishop Harry Jackson, “Personal Faith, Public Policy” and our first chapter is “Is the Religious Right Dead?” I went back and did some research. Newspaper articles almost every four years or eight at best write the obituaries of these social conservative Christians. Saying the movement is over, it is never going anywhere.

The fact is, as you set the stage for this discussion, what we are doing in terms of the Religious Right, to use their terminology, we are the apologists for the values that the vast majority of Americans share. What we talk about as mainstream is mainstream, was mainstream. Our groups really emerged on the scene 25 years ago to defend what was normal only because the other side began to attack them. And there is a big push, you’re right; there is a big push by the left to draw unwitting evangelicals into these other issues like global warming. Let me say that it is an issue of concern to Christians—the environment is an issue of concern, poverty is an issue of concern. The Bible is very clear about that, and as Christians we are involved in that, but it is how we address it and the priorities which we give it. Those on the left, they want to focus exclusively on issues of poverty, exclusively on this issue of global warming.

And I have a chapter in the book about global warming which really is probably the thing I am most passionate about in this book. I am a conservationist—when I was in office I was the vice chair of the environmental committee, I have passed legislation that deals with the environment. I love the outdoors, but God created the earth and God sustains the earth. Man cannot save the earth any more then he can save himself. Too many Christians are being sucked in—really it is nothing more then earth worship when we talk about the policy initiatives that these global warming theorists want to advance.

Pastore: There is a movement that essentially is saying, “Hey, you pro-lifers, ever since Roe v. Wade you’ve had this idea to overturn it. In court you’ve lost, abortion is the law of the land. The whole pro-life movement is dead and you know what gang, you are going to get the same thing with same-sex marriage. You just need to read the writing on the wall. You guys are going to lose that one to. Then what is Christianity going to stand for if you don’t have those two boogie men to go after?”

Perkins: I would have to say they are absolutely wrong on the issue of abortion. We have made significant progress in bringing America back to a culture of life. We were asleep when the court thrust that whole issue onto America and the church got involved, first led by the Catholic Church, then by the Protestant Church. We have crisis pregnancy centers that dot the landscape all across the country where both women and unborn children are helped by caring Christians. We have unwed mother homes—we have a whole host of things to minister not to just the unborn child, but to the mother and the newborn child, and we’ve seen significant policy advancement just in the last four years. We have the Unborn Victims Violence Act, we have the Partial Birth Abortion Ban, so we are making great progress and I would say that within our lifetime we could see the vast majority of America return to being dominated by a culture of life.

Pastore: Talk specifically about the church because, of course, as the left works politically there is also the theological or the religious left who is trying to move people away from the Bible, from what it actually teaches. It has got to be culturally interpreted … you can’t know truth, all this post-modern garbage. What is going on in the church from your perspective, Tony Perkins?

Perkins: Well, Frank, you know that’s really not new. It’s been going on for over a hundred years, when we first had the split between the mainline churches and the fundamentalist which gave rise to the evangelical movement. There’s always been a battle over truth and those who reject truth are easily drawn into a social gospel, drawn into other issues. We talked about poverty, elevating that to really an unholy, unwise position.

What I think is going to be the real battle is [evidenced in the fact that] we’ve got a generation of young people who are actually very conservative on the issues—issues of life and other issues, because I think they’ve seen the results of a very permissive culture, but the challenge is they are not rooted in a biblical foundation. What it comes back to is … what does God’s word have to say? It has to be the final word for us on these issues and the priority that’s in scripture must also be our priority.

For those who want to depart from that then let them depart, but I don’t see the religious right or the social conservative Christian—however you want to describe them—going away. As long you have Bible-believing Christians, you will have people in this country who are salt and light and they will stand uncompromisingly for the truth. They’ll speak the truth in love, but they’ll speak the truth none the less.

Pastore: Tony Perkins, please continue the great work. God bless you.