Tony Campolo and the Future of the Religious Right
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Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 02:42:26 PM EST
Popular Christian scholar, writer and speaker Tony Campolo is a professor at Eastern University. His tenure as a known Christian ethics expert is well recorded around the nation.  By request, Christian Ethics Today magazine got Tony to write a brief article about the future of the Religious Right movement in the land.  The winter edition carries the story.  Tony predicted that the movement would have a steady increase in contrast to those who say the movement is dead.
Tony stated  " ...Religious Right Evangelicals who will dominate both the image and practices representing Christianity to the general public for the next 50 years."  Campolo lists two reasons why the movement will continue to flourish.  For one, the financial means and technological known-how are in place and well organized.  He wrote there are more than 1500 radio stations who promote the agenda of the Religious Right in the nation.  Also on board is the National Religious Broadcasters which is consistently bashing President Obama and promoting an economic agenda championed by the right.  Tony names Fox News commentators as obvious brokers in the national hysteria.  
     The professor claims many pastors across the nation have been silenced when they attempted to speak out against the likes of the religious movement.  Some have been forced from their pulpits when their views did not coincide with that of Christian talk radio.  (Tony evidently doesn't think it is that Christian.)
     The second reason given is the fact that laypersons connected to the Religious Right have found their way into power structures.  They influence who speaks at conferences and who writes the books at Christian publishing houses.  The popular speaker notes that the internet passes along false rumors about more traditional Christians who find their opportunities for publishing, speaking, and employment limited.  He concludes his article with the warning, ", and for the next several years, the Religious Right will reign supreme."  
     An example worth noting to back up Campolo's claims is the recent report of the invitation given to a Mr. Boykin, a retired career Army officer.  This site has noted more than once the Christian nation-holy war speeches given by the officer.  First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, whose pastor is a recent past president of the Southern Baptist Convention had Boykin in to speak to the congregation.
     Jo Conn, of Church and State Magazine, noted the way Senator Grassley dropped the ball in his investigation of the opulent lifestyles of the Prosperity Gospel preachers.  It is speculated hardliners in the GOP prevailed upon Grassley and he wimped out on his promise to further investigate mega pastors and their tax sheltered lifestyles.  Jo warned that the investigation might have opened the door for legislation pending to allow ministers to now endorse candidates from the pulpit.  Which further adds to the potential for future muscle for the group.  Far from being dead, the movement, according to Tony and others, is only gaining momentum.  
     Observers might believe the influence on national politics is dwindling.  I am inclined to agree with Campolo, it certainly is not on the decline in the churches.

Some aspects of the Religious Right's growth are hard to quantify, but I think that those of us who have learned the narratives of the Religious Right recognize that they are spreading and that their agenda is becoming more mainstreamed.  

One major point that I hope comes across in my "Biblical Capitalism" series is that for every political issue, the Religious Right has a sub-story that everybody else pretty much ignores or disregards.  This has allowed them to build a large counterculture with an alternate version of history, economics, and science, and to promote it to millions with very little organized resistance against their agenda.

by Rachel Tabachnick on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 03:14:07 PM EST

and how it spreads.  If you think of it in terms of epidemiology and how diseases spread and infect people, then there are a lot of parallels.  Maybe it could be called a cultural disease - a disease that infects cultures?

Unlike cancer, however, it is curable, if you can find the, as a friend puts it, "magic key".   I walked away, many others have, and I've heard enough stories to know that people do come to reject the religious right teachings and thought.  Some people seem to  be naturally immune to it, others not.   The main immunization (and also effective cure) is education.  People learn to think critically, they become resistant.

On the problem with ignorance and refusal to accept the reality of the problem, I'm reminded of the murderous spree by Loughner.  It's already old news around here, and the people I've talked with about it (not that many, maybe two or three and all more or less liberal in persuasion) didn't know of the patriot movement connections - something that I specifically pointed out in a private message to one of the editors of the local paper, but which has not been mentioned as far as I know.  (I think it should be section 1 news!)  I also mentioned it in a letter to the editor about the situation, which so far has not been published.

I think that this lack of covering parts of the story is connected with the sub-stories you mentioned and how they're not being talked about; if the news doesn't cover it, for a lot of people it isn't real or doesn't exist.  

However, I think that that might be changing.  The news from Wisconsin, the crazy attempts to gut public education (and the rights of workers) in this state, the attempt to legalize murder of abortion providers, these things ARE in the news and people are getting up in arms about them.  If what we know can be gotten before the general public, AND they start connecting the dots, than maybe freedom has a chance.

by ArchaeoBob on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 06:28:25 PM EST

Is this really okay rhetoric to use?  Isn't it dehumanizing and demonizing?  I am surprised that no one else here is objecting.

"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Thu Mar 24, 2011 at 02:00:32 PM EST

Both David Barton and Bill Gothard operate with no accountability.  There are no boards, questions or press conferences.  They surround themselves with supporters who affirm their views and tend to sluff off any difference of opinion that does not come from their small circles as insignificant.  I guess I am saying it is almost cult-like.

by wilkyjr on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 04:27:56 PM EST

Let's acknowledge that the Religious Right as we have known it is evolving in style and leadership and even to some degree, substance.

Let's acknowledge that they managed to elect more than 48 new antiabortion votes in the Congress, while gulling people into thinking that the Tea Party was not about "social issues" only small government and taxes. The total defunding of Title Ten family planning funds to as not to be a bill of attainder aimed solely at Planned Parenthood is a singular legislative accomplishment.  All this happened on the watch of those who have been saying that The End is Near for the Religious Right and the Culture Wars.

And finally, lets acknowledge that the forces aligned against the Religious Right got outfoxed and badly beaten at the polls and now in the Congress -- and that really ought to tell us something.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 05:20:18 PM EST

that are used to push the RR agenda, since it echoes what the ultra-wealthy must have for continued dominance; the have-nots fighting amongst themselves.

That's why I truly feel that Obama's continued triangulating the Liberals out of the conversation has really hurt us, just as we had hoped that the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush "Centrist" nonsense would have push-back. Nope. And we still have over 5 years of this to endure before we even see what we'll face next.

I'm growing more cynical by the day. I'd give up completely if I didn't have children/grandchildren who will inherit this mess.

by trog69 on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:31:02 PM EST

I really don't think people pay too much attention to this, but we have been warned about abuses of religion (My life is based on religion . . . I am clergy). I have always loved science fiction, and one of my favorites has always been the works of Robert Heinlein. Heinlein's philosophy was definitely right wing, somewhat of a militarist, but still . . . he loved freedom. He wrote one book, "If This Goes On" later re-released under the name Revolt in 2100. The thesis of the story is the United States has fallen under the power of a theocracy, and the story is about the revolt to overthrow the theocracy. The theocracy was initiated in the US by the Rev. Jeremiah Scudder. Heinlein was definitely on the right, but he saw the dangers of abuse of religion in politics. I honestly believe that there are a few Jeremiah Scudder's out there. By the way, agree with Heinlein or not, his stories were great!

by cloyd on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 11:57:20 AM EST
A friend of mine had some short stories he wrote that were science fiction and based upon a theocratic takeover.  I really liked them.  (I hope he gets them all together, edited, and published.)

They scared me because of their accuracy.  However, he knew what the dominionists were like.  I just hope they weren't prophetic.

Personally, I find science and science fiction to be faith-increasing, while "read deh BIBLE!!!" destroys faith.  A science-based examination of the Bible, on the other hand...  FUN!!!

(Favorite authors include Christopher Stasheff, and a few others who aren't afraid to look at religion as well as science.)

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:14:22 PM EST

Margaret Atwood and the late Octavia E. Butler portrayed what such a world might have been like. The dominionists aren't slacking off, since this week David Grisham of Repent Amarillo announced he's running for a seat on the Amarillo City Council. Grisham's other paying job is working for Pantex (the Amarillo nuclear plant) as a security guard.

by khughes1963 on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 09:46:30 PM EST

Noteworthy from Dr. Campolo his claim that this movement will dominate the churches for the next 50 years.  If this is right it will have a serious impact on the Christian Faith in America regardless of how significant an impression it will make on American politics.
     Sites like this might find an audience with those in the church dealing with such issues who will take the authors here more seriously than the secular world appears to.

by wilkyjr on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 03:44:21 PM EST
For years we have been reading that the energy and growth in Christianity is shifting to the churches in the developing world. As this has happened, more and more mainline denominations are having to deal with the very conservative views that come from the developing areas. It's a very difficult situation for those of us who welcome multicultural voices, yet hear with dismay the very exclusivist and dominionist programs that those developing world voices support. I recall hearing a seminary professor remark some years ago that for over a century we sent our most conservative members to the mission field, because they were the ones who had the heart and stamina for mission, and now we are reaping what we have sown. It appears that progressive Christianity has a long, difficult road ahead. I'm very glad this website exists.

by MLouise on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 06:13:27 PM EST
With indigenous groups, missionaries have an especially bad reputation and are hated, unless the groups have been converted or steeplejacked.  Even then the stories of greed, rape, lies and so on are almost ubiquitous.  The fact that missionaries are also usually on the extreme (conservative) end is also known.

The problem is, people seem to tend to take on the worst of what they've learned from missionaries.  It used to be a rule with the Hudson's Bay company that as long as a Native American held to their traditional beliefs, they could extend credit to that person and be sure that they were paid.  If the Native person ever claimed to have converted to Christianity, the official rule was to immediately get all accounts paid up and from that point deal cash only, because of the problem with dishonesty and non-payment.  (I would have to find the reference to this, but I encountered it in a text about the Hudson's Bay Company as regards to the Great Lakes area.)

I've had my share of run-ins with people who thought Native Americans needed "missionizing".  They were very offensive and belittling (and totally clueless) regarding our traditional beliefs - irregardless of the tribe or belief system.  I swear they seemed to be trying to insult people into "the Kingdom of God"!

The people who I remember as being slated for missionary work when I was a "coercive religious movement" member and hung around with the Assemblies of God students were often the more outrageous ones.  (I just wonder how they liked being taught to NOT preach against alcohol if they ever went to Europe!)

You may be onto something!!!

by ArchaeoBob on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 07:38:55 PM EST

The RRW is dying a slow and painful death. They only appear to be revived simply because as the article states, the discussion is Dominated to the few 1% holding power. Its the same way they seek to run our Secular Nation, the 1% rule: the 1% rules. Recent events in Wisconsin has awaken the sleeping working class. Their awareness of the fact that the RRW is behind all their suffer will generate a flood of backlash against the RRW agenda. They have roused the working class and we're not going to take it anymore.

by sovereignjohn on Wed Feb 23, 2011 at 04:52:04 PM EST
When I first got involved with the "Religious Right" over three decades ago, people tended to make fun of them and were surprised when they got as far as they did.

Then some of the early scandals happened, and people giddily (very appropriate word) predicted the end of the Religious Right.   Didn't happen.

They came back, and people still said they were dying.  Yep, back then the religious right was considered moribund and a passing fad.  I remember hearing and reading it (and since I was still brainwashed, was irritated and angered by the comments).

They're taking over now, and people still say they're dying.

If they're dying, they sure have a funny way of showing it!  Thirty years is a mighty long time to be on a deathbed - and growth is not a symptom of death!  (Although I would admit it's a symptom of cancer...)

I'm beginning to wonder if those who say they're dying are asleep and dreaming, or if some of them might actually be working for the religious right.

BTW - the one percent ruling -and exploiting- the 99 percent has always been the case in America.  SOME people are awakening to what is going on via the Wisconsin situation, but for the most part, it's snoozing and "what's the latest on reality TV" (as usual).  

by ArchaeoBob on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 01:21:00 PM EST

You don't burry grandma till she is dead.  Been hearin she is dead for 2 decades and now Tony says she will live at least 5 more.

by wilkyjr on Fri Feb 25, 2011 at 09:31:07 AM EST

First, it is Joe Conn, editor of Church and State magazine not Jo.

It has been my thought that it would be at least 50 years before most evangelical churches toned down their anti-gay stance.

Remember, how long it took for most of them to stop talking about the Curse of Ham? I remember listening to radio preachers in 1977 when I was pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church in Ft Worth preaching about the Curse of Ham. That would be over 100 years after the civil war. I am sure we could find Christian Identity preachers still talking about it.

While it does seem there to be a softening among young Evangelicals on the gay issue I think it is going to take at least the 50 years Dr. Campolo is predicting for the RRR influence to wane.

In the meantime during that 50 years the RRR is still going to be anti-women, anti-gay, anti-labor, and pro-unrestricted free market advocates.

The Dominionists want to reduce most of us to worker drones who are totally beholden to their employers, read masters. As Rusdooney wrote some of us are just naturally born to be slaves.

by JerrySloan on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 03:49:28 PM EST

Tony Campolo's insights into the future of the Religious Right movement are thought-provoking and shed light on its potential impact in the years to come. His analysis of the financial and technological resources at the movement's disposal makes a compelling case for its continued growth.  nevada legislature seats The influence of the Religious Right in various power structures, as described by Campolo, is a significant factor to consider. While some may argue about its waning influence in national politics, Campolo's perspective highlights its strength within churches. This article offers valuable perspectives on an important aspect of contemporary religious and political dynamics.

by isabelladom on Sat Aug 05, 2023 at 12:52:56 AM EST

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