Evangelical Republicans Losing Faith

Sue Banerjee

By Sue BanerjeeThe Daily Northwestern

Where are the priests who used to proclaim homosexuality as a one-way ticket to hell? Oh that’s right, they’re standing by while a cleric admits to fondling an ex-Congressman when he was a boy. And what about the anti-abortion advocates? They’re probably sulking about the over-the-counter status of the morning-after pill.

According to political analysts, Christian Evangelicals won Bush the presidency in 2004. The midterm elections this year, however, do not share the same moralistic banter that polarized the country two years ago. So where has the religious right gone?

In the 2004 election, Bush’s campaign adviser, Karl Rove, launched a massive Evangelical offensive, targeting churches all around the nation. Religious institutions re-emerged as tools for spreading propaganda about the evils of homosexuality and abortion. In a savvy move, conservatives put actions against gay marriage on the ballot in 13 swing states to sway voters. Evolution theories in schools were challenged and then creatively redesigned to incorporate religious doctrine. Teaching in some counties became synonymous with preaching the “intelligent design” of God. And don’t even get me started on stem cells: I highly doubt most Americans understand the process, but they seem to have an opinion on it anyway.

But it looks like the Republican ideological sway over the masses is waning. Many argue the Mark Foley scandal has demoralized and disappointed religious conservatives. (Heaven forbid there be hypocrisy in politics.) But other factors may just force Republicans to take a second look at the voters they take for granted.

David Kuo, a deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives for three years, recently released a book alleging that the Bush Administration secretly ridiculed the religious organizations and Christian leaders who helped elect him. Kuo claims the White House pretended to support their agenda to garner votes.

And in a recent revelation, it appears there are heathens in the White House. While swearing in Mark Dybul as the new U.S. global AIDS coordinator, Condoleezza Rice publicly referred to Dybul’s partner’s mother as his “mother-in-law.” Critics accuse Rice of condoning an illegitimate relationship, but maybe she’s just seen the light.

Even if Republicans are shunning their base, Evangelicals aren’t taking a backseat. Some Democrats are teaming up with Christian leaders to highlight global warming and other environmental issues in political campaigns. This could provide Democrats with an opportunity to expand into the traditional Republican voting bloc.

If national polls are any indication, Republicans should be wary come Nov. 7. The gods and the faithful priests might not be on their side this time around.

Medill sophomore Sue Banerjee can be reached at [email protected]