Wallis’s Wishful Thinking?

Christian author, organizer, and Religious Right critic Jim Wallis took to the pages of Time Magazine last week to boldly declare that “The Religious Right’s Era Is Over.” According to Wallis:  

In the churches, a combination of deeper compassion and better theology has moved many pastors and congregations away from the partisan politics of the Religious Right … Evangelicals — especially the new generation of pastors and young people — are deserting the Religious Right in droves … [M]any Republicans have had it with the Religious Right … The era of the Religious Right is now past, and it’s up to all of us to create a new day.

It’s good news that most Americans – and most Christians — do not share the political priorities of Religious Right leaders, and religious voters shifted away from GOP candidates in significant numbers in 2006.  But the fact that every GOP presidential candidate is in the process of openly supplicating to Religious Right powerbrokers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson is a sign that it’s probably premature to declare complete victory over a group that remains a core constituency of the Republican Party.

We’ve noted that trend in the past (see, for example, here, here, here, or here). Here are some examples from just the past week:

Washington PostMcCain, Romney Vying for Support Of Conservatives

New York TimesGiuliani Shifts Abortion Speech Gently to Right

Associated Press – McCain Courting Christian Conservatives

MSNBC – The Preacher Primary: GOP Leaders Battle for Support from the Three Kingmakers

Just today, the AP reported that four Republican candidates – John McCain, Mitt Romney, Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter – all recently traveled to Florida to woo religious broadcasters at their annual convention.  

History shows that Religious Right political leaders don’t just slink away after defeat.  Some of them are holding a Restore America Conference later this week in Oregon, for which they have some blustery big plans:

Evangelical Christians are the largest voting block in America.  The future course of America depends upon them mobilizing 19 million that are eligible, but not even registered to vote.   In 2006, 22 million did not vote, but that is about to change.  The 2nd Annual Restore America Conference, February 23rd and 24th, just outside of Portland, Oregon is gearing up to educate and mobilize 1000 Christian leaders to encourage their constituents to vote and win!

And in early March, a collection of right-wing luminaries will head to Ft. Lauderdale for D. James Kennedy’s annual “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference which will provide “Christians deep within the trenches with a welcome respite from the battle and fuel to carry on” as they receive “training in Christian grassroots action and methods to mobilize churches on moral issue.”