Citizen Kane is the story of a man who rose from humble beginnings – like enjoying the simple pleasure of sledding – to become a wealthy power broker. Like Kane, right-wing evangelicals have tasted power. The Reagan days were intoxicating, and Republican candidates thereafter had to court evangelicals first and foremost . There was grand talk of taking the country back, belief in a Moral Majority, and enough political victories to keep hope alive.
But with more recent developments right-wing evangelicals are taking a hard look at the progress of the culture war. For example,
The president of one of the leading Christian-based research organizations in the U.S. says it’s time for believers to re-consider how the church in America should engage a culture that appears to be shifting away from Biblical values. This year’s election results make it obvious that the country is embracing moral views that differ from evangelical Christianity, said LifeWay Research President Ed Stetzer.
“We must face the reality that we may be on the losing side of the culture war,” wrote Stetzer in his blog posted the day after the election. “For decades, the ‘religious right’ has focused its energies on winning the day through political means.”
He also wrote about the outcomes of key ballot issues in Tuesday’s election that included victories in support of abortion and same-sex marriage.
“This marks the first time for any state to legalize same-sex marriage by the expressed will of the people rather than through court rulings or legislation,” Stetzer stated. “While this certainly does not mean we should stop legal or political efforts completely, it does mean that we should begin thinking about what it looks like to be the church in a ‘post-culture war’ era. …”
A quick look at the front-burner culture war issues supports a bleak outlook for the Christian Right. There may yet be legislative opportunities to trim abortion rights, but Roe v. Wade isn’t going away any time soon, and in the unlikely event that it does get reversed, abortion will remain available in your state or the state next door. Gay marriage is getting protection from the courts, and henceforth young adults (among others) will tend to approve it in the voting booth. An ugly aspect of right-wing politics – harsh rhetoric about undocumented Hispanics – is not going to result in millions of deportations. Then, yes, President Obama gets four more years.
For some, the culture war with its political approach may seem like the only plan. With that plan in crisis, despair may set in. But fear not, there is a Plan B, and we need not be on our death bed plagued by remorse of what might have been; we need not be like Citizen Kane peering into his snow globe. Plan B goes something like this:
1) “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (I Tim. 1-2)
2) “Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jer. 29:5-7)
3) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:19-20)
Seems simple enough; who could object to that?