In defense of the 'Christian right' . . . from a 'Christian lefty'

October 29, 2004|HERB BROCK

It was the stretch drive of a local political campaign in the late 1980's and I was covering a rally for the Republican candidate. I handled the assignment, then I put down my pen and opened my mouth.

The GOP candidate was a local representative of what was then a growing conservative political movement of largely evangelical Christians. It was a movement that had begun in the early 1980's as the "moral majority" and had spread during the decade to become a political force dubbed by the media as the "religious right."

This particular GOP candidate was a very bright, articulate and likable young man who championed the then new Republican agenda that was a fusion of old conservative tenets, such as tax cuts and a strong military, and new conservative "family values" doctrines, such as pro-life and pro-prayer in schools.

After the speeches, I sat at a picnic table and chatted with one of the candidate's biggest supporters. During the conversation, I violated the age-old rule that one doesn't mix politics and religion in polite conversation. Also, I kind of blew it professionally. My notepad was in my back pocket as I was done with my reporting, and I was engaged in a totally off the record conversation when I turned it into a debate, but I should have kept a cork in it instead of letting it pop.


Yeah, I blew up and, thus, could be accused of blowing it professionally. But I couldn't stand hearing from the Christian right what I thought was a simplistic, simple-minded, sophomoric, broad brushed, holier-than-thou attack on all liberals as agents of Satan.

I was tired of hearing that if one didn't agree with the Christian right agenda, one was deemed immoral and doomed to purgatory at best, hell at worst. I have a feeling God thought the work of the Christian left to fight for civil rights for blacks and women's rights was a pretty darn moral thing to do.

I was tired of hearing that the evangelicals who formed the main body of the Christian right were the only true Christians, and Christians who were politically liberal were impostors, at best, Judases at worst. A lot of them disparaged "high church" faiths, like mine, even though our liturgical modes of worship - communion wine and wafers, altars, crosses, and formal sermons and prayer on knees and all - were a lot closer to the way the early Christians worshipped than free-form services featuring a lot of Bible banging and pulpit pounding.

I was tired of hearing that only conservative Christian Republicans were patriots and that liberals, religious or otherwise, were appeasers at best, traitors at worst. Plenty of liberals and Democrats had died fighting for America, while others had fought the equally noble - and Christian-inspired - fight for peace.

The argument continues

While I ranted, the person with whom I was "talking" railed. Back and forth, it went. And, now about 15 years later, back and forth it still goes, nationally as well as locally.

Amid the continued finger-pointing, my views have not changed on what I consider the evil side of a movement that brands those who don't agree with them as evil. I still don't agree with them. I still am uncomfortable around the vocal ones. I still am at 180 degrees separation from their political and religious beliefs.

But I will defend to the last drop of ink in my pen the right of their movement to express its views.

I didn't feel this way a decade or two ago. I probably would have favored some law that at least would have indirectly muffled Christian rightists or forced them all to move to Montana or paid for them all to go on a one-way trip to the Holy Lands. But what were wacky, cruel dreams in my angry liberal head have since turned out to be real-life nightmares plotted by angry liberal leaders.

There are many liberals and liberal groups who actually do want to silence the Christian right. Whether it's the ACLU or NOW or the national Democratic Party, liberal people and organizations have engaged in a full-scale war to limit, if not totally eradicate, the right of politically active and vocal conservative evangelicals to express themselves or to have influence on America's political system and its overall culture.

The fronts in this war include the courts, where Democrats are trying to block federal judge nominees who hold conservative social views, especially on abortion; colleges, where liberal professors and student groups routinely stifle most, if not all, conservative thought in and outside the classroom, especially the thoughts of evangelical Christians; and the already liberal-dominated media, where petition drives are aimed at getting conservatives, especially Christian rightists, off opinion pages, off television and off radio.

Central Kentucky News Articles