What you need to understand," a Robertson supporter told me, "is that Pat opposed the war in Iraq from the start." I responded that according to the Lancet, some 600,000 Iraqis have died since the war began. If Robertson had publicly opposed the war, I told them, his influential voice might have spared those lives. "But," one of them answered back, "Pat is a Republican who would not openly oppose the president."I think Wolfe prematurely concludes that the role of evangelicals in politics has peaked.
And there, I submit, is why the religious right is in trouble. Since the emergence of a politically active version of conservative Protestantism in the 1980s, it has never been clear whether America's shift to the right took place because deeply religious people became political or because deeply conservative people became religious. I learned at Regent what I have long suspected: For some of the most visible leaders in the religious right, politics trumps religion every time.
Many evangelicals may sit out this election, but they'll be back in 2008.
As the blog about Jerry Sutton below indicates, there are waves of activists with a taste for power who have learned to organize politically and they are determined to force this nation to accept their idea of Christian values.
I suspect, (barring an October surprise like war with Iran or widespread voting fraud that turns this election), that the House will turn Democratic in 2006, that moderate and progressive Christians will conclude that the threat of Christian Nationalism is over and will go back to their old routine, that the economy will tank and taxes will necessarily rise, and that the Religious Right will return with a vengeance in 2008.