The defection of the centrist leaders from the religious right's agenda has thus far had no obvious effect on the evangelical vote. Still, religious right leaders worry that it will. John Giles, the president of Christian Action Alabama, a powerful conservative evangelical state organization, told the Financial Times that he saw the broadening of the centrist concerns to such issues as the environment and poverty as an effort to divide evangelicals and weaken the religious right. "We can all unite around a few core issues, such as abortion, pornography and gambling," he said. "But when you start talking about global warming, the minimum wage or the death penalty, the consensus breaks down." Dobson and Perkins have said much the same thing.
This quote comes near the end of the article, which details the fracturing of the Christian political voice in America, which has for far too long been dominated by those on the right willing to make themselves the most important wing of the Republican Party. The article also paints a picture of American Christianity that fairly represents how complicated it is both as a religious and a political movement. I've been guilty of oversimplification and categorization myself, alternatively referring to the religious right as "evangelicals", "fundamentalists", "conservative Christians", "conservative evangelicals", "fundamentalists evangelicals" and "nuts" in an effort to pin a short but accurate name to them. Who I've really been referring to all along are those that were willing to make a deal with the devil (so to speak) with the Republican Party to obtain temporal political power. But as powerful and dominant as that version of Christianity has been for the past couple of decades, Christianity reflects a much wider variety of opinion and tradition. Being as I believe firmly in the importance of diversity in a democracy, I can only applaud the increased influence of more moderate and liberal Christian voices, even if I don't share their beliefs.
UPDATE: I'm going to go ahead and give myself more credit on this subject than old Hitch, who thinks all religious people are wacko, the MOST wacko being Muslims, of course. Hitch probably couldn't get through Fitzgerald's piece without lamenting the stupidity of all Christians, both on the left and the right, thus reaffirming to himself his superiority to them.