Sunday, July 16, 2006

Reuters: Megachurches build a Republican base

The above-linked article illustrates how the fast-growing evanglical Christian "movement" is influencing political life, especially in that it is solidifying as a base of support for Republicans.

Megachurches are the lighthouses for this group, and several members are quoted.

Sexton believes every word in the Bible, rejects evolution theory, and supports the Iraq war, the Republican Party and Bush -- in part because he is a born-again Christian.

"I trust his opinion because of his beliefs," she said.

There really isn't anything more powerful to people than their religious beliefs, and this quote more or less illuminates how for many evangelicals those beliefs are becoming so intertwined with their political ones too. Many of these megachurches are encouraging this kind of political association, and members are beginning to see being a Republican as an extension of their faith.

Now there's nothing fundamentally wrong with people's religious beliefs affecting their political affiliation - afterall, this can be true for Democrats too. But I do think it's a problem when people begin to think they have to be a Republican because they are (a certain type of) Christian. It's certainly a problem when people support Bush on the war because they think he is being commanded by the same God they believe in, no matter what the facts may be about that war. These evangalical churches and leaders are actively encouraging this kind of thought now, and it's wrong. As I said, nothing is more powerful than people's faith, and if they begin to associate political affiliation with their faith, than it will be hard for you to challenge their political beliefs without them seeing you as challenging their religious ones as well (and as a side point, the Republicans certainly see the political benefit of having a large base that thinks this way. Democrats and liberals certainly don't have anything like it - we'd have better turnout if we did!).

Fortunately, this other Reuters article points to moderate Christian forces who are trying to fight against the conservative "Goliath," as it describes. Hopefully, their efforts will spark a debate on how much religious groups should link politics and religion together. The Christian God is not a Republican, nor a Democrat, and Christians are not either by definition as well. And the truth is that anyone preaching otherwise has motives far beyond spreading their faith.


Bill Arnold said...

Sad, but true. In the church I used to work for, people just assumed you were going to be voting for Bush. It would have been at the very least awkward to even mention voting for the other guy.

Nat-Wu said...

On a positive note, the biggest church in this area is The Potter's House, TD Jakes' ministry. Although they might be conservative on social issues, their focus is more on fulfilling the needs of the less fortunate, and Jakes himself refuses to take part in politics.

Also, there are a lot of churches whose members are not moderate on social issues, but who feel that getting involved in the affairs of the world is a distraction from their true calling, so we basically never hear from them even though they are definitely as conservative as the evangelicals. And they tend not to go to the megachurches.

So certain Christians can and will be active, but fortunately I don't think they'll ever be able to claim that they truly are the majority of Christians.

Xanthippas said...

I can't say that Democrats will ever enjoy the same support among Christians that the Republicans do, but there's no reason for the Republican dominance of religion to be so overwhelming. I'm sure there are more than a few people attending these chruches who-like Bill-aren't quite in tune with the political affiliations of their fellow church-goers. There should be-and is I think-room in the Democratic party for people like that, and I think Demcocrats are doing a good job of reaching out to more liberal congregations as well.