Republicans Are a Christian Party

Jonah GoldbergConservatives are so cute! At least when they try to figure out why no one likes their party. It just never occurs to them that it might be, you know, their policies. Look: conservatives like their policies. It is the party of the rich that does the work of the rich. And a bunch of Christians and racists. Conservatives don’t talk about the racists for a couple of reasons. One is that it is who they are. Another is that they don’t believe in racism. Except reverse racism, where the powerless make the powerful cry. But that’s just part of doing the work of the rich. Let us say no more about racism!

But Christians? There’s something there. And Jonah Goldberg thinks he understands why Asians are not voting for the Republican Party. Back in December he wrote, The GOP: Not a Club for Christians. That’s an aspirational title, because Goldberg fully admits that the Republican Party really does act like a Christian group:

I’ve attended dozens of conservative events where, as the speaker, I was, in effect, the guest of honor, and yet the opening invocation made no account of the fact that the guest of honor wasn’t a Christian.

Now Goldberg doesn’t take offense to this, because he understand that he is one of them. After all, he’s the speaker. But what about a Jew or a Buddhist or a Muslim who just happened to be in the audience? He might feel like an outsider.

There is something to this, but again, this is just tinkering around the edges. The real problem is policy. But even on this issue, Goldberg shows the biggest problem the conservative movement has going forward: rigidity. He writes, “The challenge now is to figure out how to talk in a way that doesn’t cause decent and dedicated Christians to pull in like a turtle, while also appealing to non-Judeo-Christians and the nonreligious.” Even apart from the fact that all he’s talking about is “appearance,” this just isn’t going to happen. As I’ve argued before, Christians in the United States do not want equality. “Happy Holidays!” is not good enough because it doesn’t explicitly claim that Christianity (unlike all those other religions) is the Truth.

But its even worse than this. The Republican commitment to evangelical Christians dates back to Ronald Reagan. There has never been a good marriage between the libertarian and social conservative wings of the party. In fact, they, more than any other groups, ought to belong to different parties. And the Republican Party really can’t move forward in a meaningful way until they resolve this conflict. That requires offending a fair percentage of “decent and dedicated Christians.”

And that’s what I started with. There are three major categories of people who vote for Republicans: rich, social conservative, and racist. I think the third category is quickly fading—or at least I want to think that. The social conservatives still dominate who votes for the Republicans. This is why the Tea Party started in opposition to corporate welfare and the bank bailout but ended as a bunch of deficit scolds who get abortion absolutists elected.

But I repeat: conservatives really are adorable as they scurry around looking for something easy they can do to fix their demographic problems. To misquote Churchill: “Republicans can always be counted on to do the right thing… After they have exhausted all other possibilities.” I’m thinking 4-6 years, but even longer if the Democrats screw up and hand them the White House in 2016. Until then, it will be more attempts to game the electoral college, pretend to be “compassionate,” and welcome other faiths.

Scurry along, little party!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Republicans Are a Christian Party

  1. Whether racism is disappearing from the GOP — that’s tricky. I’d guess it is in wealthy suburbs, but not in rural states (with two senators each!) Plus, GOPers without personal prejudices can still support institutionalized racism; that’s not going away (see Cain, Herman.)

    A off-topic note on Christianity — you may recall I passed along information, gleaned off the InterWebThing, vis-a-vis our history of church/state separation in schools. That it was Protestants who wanted religion cut, fearing Catholics would put their religion in. I looked up a book called "Between Church And State" by James Fraser to check this out.

    It’s basically true, but more complicated than that. There was a famous battle in New York in the ’20s along those lines. An interesting thing that happened more often in different parts of the country was Catholics clamoring for partial state subsidies. Public schools were decidedly religious and many common textbooks had blatant anti-Catholic teachings. Accordingly Catholics sent their kids to Catholic private schools, meaning they were paying twice — taxes to educate Protestant kids and tuition for their own.

    One solution was that government would pay for part of Catholic schooling — the teacher salaries and pro-rated building upkeep fees for the first, strictly non-religious segment of the curriculum. Then the segment devoted to Catholic teaching would be funded by churches/parents.

    Well, Protestants HATED that idea, as that meant they would get a taste of paying twice. Eventually school boards just phased out direct religious instruction, and when the 50’s/60’s Court rulings (cases brought by Catholics, Jews, and atheists) came down, that eliminated the rest. Keep in mind that back then many Protestants were not evangelical theocrats like the majority are today.

    A side note — personally, I’d love a mandatory "Comparative Religions" class in every school. Christian kids would benefit from learning something about non-Christian ones and vice versa. At my work, after much pleading, we convinced our sole Muslim employee to bring her son to a kid-themed party (it’s a group home for the disabled, not an office, and the disabled folks love kids.) Her kid, who had been mocked for not celebrating Xmas at school, was nervous — until he got a Spider-Man coloring book and decided it was cool. He thinks Xmas is "a store," now, and he’s not far wrong . . .

    (The Fraser book is not highly recommended, it’s a plea for tolerance on all sides by a moderate Lutheran pastor/history teacher. But the history info seemed solid.)

    One I would recommend to anyone interested in changing religious demographics is "American Grace," by Robert Putnam and some other guy. Essentially, moderate Protestants and white Catholics are dropping like flies. Evangelicals, Hispanic Catholic, and atheists (non-churchgoers) are growing. The views on church/state separation of evangelicals and atheists are obvious. The views of Hispanic Catholics are not; that’s going to be a battleground area.

    Oh, and — remember, a few years back, Fox and others trumpeting the claim that religious conservatives give more to charity than liberals? That’s from the Putnam book, and it’s technically true — IF you include church donations/tithes as "charity." The book shows that if you remove church organizations, religious conservatives come in dead last. (Of course, they already gave at the office!)

  2. @JMF – Thanks! That was great. I know Robert Putnam. I went to get that book, but I saw [i]Bowling Alone[/i] and decided to get it instead, because I’m working on a book-length essay about community.

    As for religious studies, I was listening to Robert Price’s podcast last night and he told a story about when he taught an intro religion course in college. He always gave them a test at the start to find out what they knew. And even though they were all Christians from the Bible Belt, they knew almost nothing. So it isn’t just that Christians don’t understand other religions, they don’t understand their own! In fact, I saw a recent survey and the atheists did among the best. That isn’t surprising. It is easy to be a Christian in this country if you never think about religion.

  3. Good wishes on the book-length essay about community. That could be outstanding. Or, you could totally flub it. (I’m a believer in the knock-on-wood school of "if you say that good things will happen, you will end up fucked, broken, and strewn across the landscape for vultures to gnaw." It might be a growing-up-Catholic thing.)

    I read the "Little Book Of Heroin" from inter-library loan. (Sorry, I’m saving money right now and not buying stuff.) You’ve got the gift; you can make non-fiction informative and interesting. The catch is finding a way to focus the material; never an easy trick to pull off.

    Whenever I read Susan Jacoby ("Freethinkers," "Never Say Die") I want to kill her and eat her so I can absorb her magic power, like cavemen absorbing the power of a stag. She mixes opinion prose and scholarship so effortlessly, it’s positively disgusting.

    (Note: I don’t really want to kill & eat Susan Jacoby.)

  4. @JMF – I’m glad to hear that because we have a strict "no cannibalism" policy here. (It’s true! Check the Terms of Service!)

    Thanks for the compliment. I hate that book. I think the Opium book is far better. But I haven’t read it since I wrote it.

    Everything I do starts out as perfect and ends (at best) passable. I do have a lot to say on the issue of community. Although, in truth, it is more a book of essays. The first one is, "How to cross a street." That’s a subject I’ve thought about a great deal. I really think if we could cross the street properly then everything else would fall into place.

    "Sometimes it’s necessary to go a long distance out of the way in order to come back a short distance correctly." -Edward Albee

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