New York Times: The Evangelical Crackup
The NY Times reports that the evangelical movement is losing steam. But is it?
The Revealer mentioned this story:
New York Times Declares Religious Right Dead. Again. 28 October 2007
By Jeff Sharlet
With "The Evangelical Crack-Up," New York Times conservative beat reporter David D. Kirkpatrick's nearly 8,000-word cover story in this Sunday's magazine, the paper of record has attempted to cement a new chunk of conventional wisdom: The religious right is dead. Again.
The story is already the paper's most-emailed article, and the liberal blog DailyKos.com has heralded it as long-awaited news -- a peculiar memory lapse for political junkies. This isn't the first time establishment media has declared the end of conservative evangelicalism as a movement: It did the same in 1992, when Clinton won; in 1996, when he won again. It declared American fundamentalism an artifact of the past in 1925, after the Scopes Trial, and then proceeded to ignore the build-up of a Christian conservatism that infused the Cold War with particularly fervent anti-communism that recognized only three shades, black, white, and red. And as recently as 2000, too, establishment media considered fundamentalism mostly a non-starter, at best a sideshow in the Gore-Bush contest.
Here we are again. The NYT's two reporters assigned to following the religious right -- or, rather, the electoral fortunes of the religious right -- have declared evangelical conservatism as dead as D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell.
Just three years ago, the leaders of the conservative Christian political movement could almost see the Promised Land. White evangelical Protestants looked like perhaps the most potent voting bloc in America. They turned out for President George W. Bush in record numbers, supporting him for re-election by a ratio of four to one. Republican strategists predicted that religious traditionalists would help bring about an era of dominance for their party. Spokesmen for the Christian conservative movement warned of the wrath of “values voters.” James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was poised to play kingmaker in 2008, at least in the Republican primary. And thanks to President Bush, the Supreme Court appeared just one vote away from answering the prayers of evangelical activists by overturning Roe v. Wade.
Today the movement shows signs of coming apart beneath its leaders. It is not merely that none of the 2008 Republican front-runners come close to measuring up to President Bush in the eyes of the evangelical faithful, although it would be hard to find a cast of characters more ill fit for those shoes: a lapsed-Catholic big-city mayor; a Massachusetts Mormon; a church-skipping Hollywood character actor; and a political renegade known for crossing swords with the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Nor is the problem simply that the Democratic presidential front-runners — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards — sound like a bunch of tent-revival Bible thumpers compared with the Republicans.
The 2008 election is just the latest stress on a system of fault lines that go much deeper. The phenomenon of theologically conservative Christians plunging into political activism on the right is, historically speaking, something of an anomaly.
The Evangelical Movement's Breakdown Ain't so Cute After All
By Susie Bright, SusieBright.com. Posted October 31, 2007.
Don't be fooled by NY Times Magazine's feature story this weekend about the religious right's nice, new image. Christian power is not about holding hands and thinking good thoughts.
New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick takes apart "The Evangelical Crackup" in this past Sunday Magazine, in what is sure to be one of the most talked-about stories of the pre-election season.
He interviews a number of pastors and politicos from the conservative churches -- the bedrock of the "Moral Majority" and the base that won the Bush family their votes.
This is the movement that could be relied upon to do anything at the flick of an abortion-shaming or homo-hating switch. Get them on their high horse, with a sexy leather crop in their hands, and you had them sweating and frothing their way to the finish line.
By Kirkpatrick's assessment, the coalition is now blown to smithereens, for a number of reasons. I was disappointed with his analysis, but the raw material is fascinating to review:
It seems that the NY Times report of the end of the evangelical movement is premature.