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Tuesday, November 9, 2004

They're still the 'Christian right' to me.

Timothy Noah notices the rebranding of the political-religious movement we used to know as the "Christian right" (and before that as the "religious right"). The politically right-wing Christian movement is now, voilá, the "conservative Christian" or "evangelical Christian" movement. But Noah writes:

The trouble with "conservative Christian" is that it confuses the question of whether an individual is conservative in his religious practice with the question of whether that person is conservative politically. (Much of the black church, for example, is conservative in the religious but not the political sense.) Similarly, there are politically liberal "evangelical Christians," and there used to be quite a lot more of them. (In Elisabeth Sifton's book The Serenity Prayer, a memoir of her father, the politically liberal theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, Sifton points out that Niebuhr was an evangelical Protestant.) Even fundamentalists (an evangelical subgroup whom Jennings, incidentally, conflated with the broader Christian right) have some political liberals among them. In ditching the term, "Christian right," Green summed up, the Christian right chose to associate itself with the pool of Christians from which it hopes to draw, not the folks who already belong.

I find it interesting that even among the "highly orthodox white evangelical Protestants" that Beliefnet calls the "religious right" (12.6% of the electorate; 70% are registered Republican; 44% live in the South), 9% call themselves politically liberal. Odd but true: There are probably a few progressives even on the Christian right! Equally intriguing: One-fifth of Beliefnet's "religious left" (also 12.6% of the electorate; 51% registered Democratic) consider themselves politically conservative.

("Red-state PC," Timothy Noah, Slate 11.8.04; "The Twelve Tribes of American Politics," John Green and Steven Waldman, Beliefnet n.d.)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 9 November 2004 at 5:28 PM

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