Bauer Promises Never to Look Past Wedge Issues

Discussing Alexandra Pelosi’s recent documentary “Friends of God,” veteran religious-right activist and Republican campaigner Gary Bauer identifies the crux of his disagreement in Pelosi’s suggestion that, beyond the wedge issues of abortion and gay rights, liberals and conservative Christians may find they have common ground. According to Bauer, “evangelicals will never be able to ‘move past’ abortion”:

Pelosi’s answer exemplifies a belief gaining popularity in the mainstream media: that if evangelicals would only look beyond “wedge issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage, some common ground might be found.

This view suggests that these are merely a few among a laundry list of important public policy questions. But, for the vast majority of evangelicals, the right to life and the definition of marriage are fundamentally and inescapably moral theological issues. Take the right to life, whose importance is rooted in the Christian belief that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. The centrality of the human person to the Christian worldview helps evangelicals think about and prioritize every political issue that arises, with those policies and laws that pose the gravest threat to human life placed at the top of the agenda. It also helps explain why evangelicals will never be able to “move past” abortion, as Pelosi and many others on the Left hope. The same can be said for issues relating to marriage, family and, of course, the role of religion in public life.

But while these issues keep activists like Bauer in business, they are not the issues that Evangelicals use to determine how they vote. According to the Center for American Values in Public Life’s American Values Survey, just 19 percent of Evangelicals chose abortion and same-sex marriage as the kinds of issues “most important in the United States today.” In contrast, 77 percent cited poverty and affordable health care.