The Changing Politics of Rick Warren and Randy Brinson
Carlos printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:50:01 AM EST
Two years ago many conservative Christian leaders were sending direct and indirect messages that voting for Bush and the republican party was the only right Christian way to vote. Not much has changed in two years, but there are some signs that a few leaders have changed their minds about politics.
In 2004 Randy Brinson organized a voter registration campaign aimed at young people called Redeem the Vote. It seemed to me at the time that this looked more like a Vote for Bush the Redeemer effort. Right before the 2004 election, Rick Warren sent out a message to thousands of pastors in his network and basically gave an appeal for the Bush-Driven Life.

For the 2006 election Randy Brinson is putting out an alternative voting guide in seeming competition with the Alabama organization that was earlier connected to the Christian Coalition. At the Redeem the Vote website, Brinson writes:

It is in that spirit that we began Redeem the Vote, to register people of faith regardless of party affiliation, or personal political beliefs, but as a matter of Christian principle, that people of faith must be engaged in the political debate and vote as a matter of moral imperative. Since then, we have continued to reach out to both parties to find the best in both, and find solutions to the debate, not trump or destroy one person or party. This is in stark contrast to many of those conservative Christian organizations that seek to develop a partisan mentality and approach to problems that have solutions beyond partisan rhetoric. In fact, some believe the development of working relationships between Democrats and Republicans may even be counterproductive in the sense that large sums of money would be difficult to raise if their was no battle to be fought, or political enemy to be slain. Our hope is that we can engage evangelicals to support a broad agenda that embraces the common good of all Americans.

Rick Warren went from being politically concerned about abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, human cloning and euthanasia to preaching about church leadership and helping the poor, the sick and the illiterate. Since 2004 Warren has also signed important statements on global warming and torture.

I'm not sure how widespread this political change of heart is within conservative Christian circles, but it may help weaken the strong connection between the Christian Right and the republican party.

an interview with Rick Warren.

by Carlos on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 01:10:57 AM EST

At the 2006 "Voter Values Summit", I happened to witness James Inhofe mocking, in a quite mean spirited way, Richard Cizik. Inhofe had brought along a prop to facillitate the mockery, a slide of a promotional poster of Cizik that was projected onto a screen before the crowd.

Inhofe is at his most effective, I suspect, before a crowd and deploying his rapid fire populist patter that can tear targeted opponents down with innuendo. The promotional poster featured a hagiographic image of Cizik, a glow over his head suggesting a halo, barefooted and walking on water.  Inhofe's ridicule of the poster - and Cizik - advanced the frame : "how can you possibly trust such a self aggrandizing man who obviously has unwholesome pretensions to sainthood ?

Having thoroughly tarred the NAE vice president, Inhofe then tied Cizik to the alleged "UN-one world government Global Warming conspiracy".

I was suprised by the visciousness of the attack and I wondered how Cizik - or by extension Ted Haggard - could possibly enjoy such public flogging.

Now, to shift the frame of reference, consider the now notorious clash between Richard Dawkins and Tedd Haggard : the acrimony between the two men, as captured on film, was palpable, but is it really necessary ?

Somehow - by a process that I think involves a great deal of objectification and no slight amount of demonization - Haggard and Dawkins have apparently become, in each other's minds it seems to me, symbols of pure evil. But, that visceral construct falls apart in the face of the fact that - in theory at least - both Haggard and Dawkins might, were they to lay aside mutual loathing for a bit, afix their names to a public statement of concern about Global Warming and advocating reductions in greenhouse gasses.

US Senator James Inhofe would be - obviously - on the other side of such a hypothetical political alliance, and that's exactly the point.

If Inhofe is going around telling crowds ( including without a doubt many evangelicals ) that leaders of the NAE are involved in a "UN-one world government" conspiracy that - in the pop-culture eschatological constructs of various influential Christian right leaders such as Tim LaHaye - is essentially a project of the devil, then there are some very, how should I put it ?, intriguing tensions developing in the evangelical community.

by Bruce Wilson on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 07:19:44 AM EST

your experience at the Values Summit clearly shows the growing tensions between the so called "moderate" or "centrist" evangelicals and the more politically partisan right wing evangelicals. It remains to be seen what all this will mean in November and in 2008.

by Carlos on Wed Oct 04, 2006 at 12:24:48 PM EST

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