A third party for religious conservatives?

By Michelle Boorstein What will happen to religious conservatives after this election? Much has been made about the tea party’s … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein

What will happen to religious conservatives after this election?

Much has been made about the tea party’s and the GOP’s lack of focus this year on classic religious right issues – abortion, traditional marriage, religious freedom, among others. It’s not clear that tea partiers or GOP leaders really disagree with the religious right on these issues, but haven’t prioritized them during an election season when Americans are losing their jobs and their homes.

This week Watergate-figure-turned-evangelical-leader Chuck Colson floated the idea of a third party, saying religious conservatives “have no political home.”

“The status quo is simply culturally and fiscally unsustainable, and we aren’t helping matters by allowing our votes to be taken for granted,” he said in a video message on the site for his Colson Center. “The system needs shaking up.”

I mentioned something about this today in an earlier posting, but my hunch is that the organized religious right is in a period of reconstituting. Many of the old generation have passed away or faded from prominence, so it can be hard to gauge the shape and influence of today’s religious conservatives. Their leadership is disparate, diverse and more spread out vs. back in the day.

We did take a cursory look today at some benchmarks that show, well, that we need to take a closer look when we have more polling and financial data. Public records show, for example, that the Family Research Council’s PAC raised significantly more money during this financial cycle than during 2008 (nearly three times as much), and that Ralph Reed’s new Faith & Freedom Coalition reported it spent $210,000 on political advertising in one week last month alone.

Yet there is evidence that such groups and issues are less visible this year.

Are there other religious conservative organizations, people, coming to take their place? Are the resources going into the tea party? Does the economy’s impact on giving make it hard to decipher much based on donations?

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  • jbynum61

    I’m paraying the Lord will send a revival and that one of the results will be a Third Party for religous conservatives. I also recommend the book The 5000 Year Leap to anyone who wants to know the Christian principles that this country was based on.

  • WmarkW

    I hope the Christian conservatives form their own party, so that serious political discussions can stop being interrupted with dumb issues like teaching Creationism.

  • FarnazMansouri2

    The traditional Republicans still don’t get it where the Tea Party is concerned, and I suspect it is to them that the Religious Right will turn. Rove made a critical error today in bashing Palin and Delaware for nominating Christine O’Donnell. Whether right or wrong in thinking she could not win, Tea Partiers, who are winning big, are very angry. Not only did the Republicans hold back funds from O’Donnell, but they bashed her endlessly throughout the campaign. Bad move.However, both the Republicans and the TP’s have bigger problems. They endlessly blamed the Dems for the economy, leading a gullible public to believe that the Republicans could turn it around quickly. Even if they had won the Senate and had the presidency, they could not. It will take years for the economy to recover. It would have made more progress if the stimulus had been bigger, but that, too, was the Republicans’ doing.They are also stuck with their position that they will create gridlock in the legislature, an announcement they had better backtrack on and quickly. I suspect that in 2012, we will see a turning back to the Dems. The media simplifies and reduces issues to people and parties, rather than facts and principles. The people react and will react accordingly. There is a wildcard, however, and that would be Obama. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  • spencer1

    It is childish nonsense to claim that the economy cannot be turned around quickly. In fact the economy can never be turned around because the 12 million jobs lost by Cheney/Bush will never reappear.

  • yank6

    It’s hard not to see the potential for major cultural regression in this debacle.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve encountered at least one fundamentalist who admits that the teachings in his church don’t allow for the concept of religious plurality in society. That variety of fundamentalism believes that fundamentalists will eventually achieve a majority and then naturally and rightly remake society and government according to its teachings. That jibes with the mission statements of Patrick Henry College and of Pat Robertson’s Regent University.The problem with religious conservatism as a political movement is not the positions it espouses on issues, but its stated reasoning for its positions. I would like to see the religious conservatism movement transform itself into one that respects the principle of secular government. This means treating the legality of abortion and gay marriage as legal questions and not theological ones. This doesn’t mean they leave behind their religion’s values, but it does mean expressing those values in secular terms.

  • Jihadist

    Christian Conservatives? Or “Constitutional Conservatives”? Or the two are different? They can possibly rebrand and rename themselves as “Christian Democrats”, or the more rigid factions be called “Party of Jesus” by others. More highly likely they will remain an “informal third party” like the Tea Party. Or rather as “fourth party” under the broad umbrella of the Republican Party. Whilst the Christian Conservatives place values as the number one priority and for the Tea Partiers it is the economy, they don’t quite disagree much publicy on both. There is no reason to think they don’t have divisions. It is just groups of people who have various specific opposition to the Administration/Democratic Party on everything from abortion, gay marraiges, taxes, the environment, migration, health care etc. It will be very interesting to see how they find common ground on what is the number one priority in Congress and in state legislative bodies. More likely, to expend time and money on conservative agenda from faith issues to the economy.

  • laboo

    I agree with the writer above, although I won’t single out conservative Christians despite their being the most egregious example in the US. I’d cast the net wider and say that religionists of all stripes need, first of all, to respect the primacy of secular government and law.This is a line we must draw and must honor. We can hold ourselves to whatever high personal moral standards we’re capable of maintaining, according to our lights. We don’t have a right to force them on others. That’s a bedrock principle of my Christian belief and practice.

  • Carstonio

    Laboo, good post. I wouldn’t say that conservative Christians represent the most egregious, since many of them do support the principle of secular government. The really issue is the subset of those Christians, like David Barton, whose Christian nationalism and dominionism allow no room for that principle.