What of the religious right? What will become of it now? For twenty years or more the religious right has been skillfully working to salt legislative, executive and judicial leadership with enough of their people to establish a new order in American society. My own member of congress, Cathy McMorris Rogers, was first elected on a traditional conservative platform heavily undergirded by her religious right credentials. As it has turned out, she had to struggle to actually learn something about traditional conservatism, especially in regard to the way the economy functions. But, she will continue to be reelected many times over because she has learned to say the words that appeal to the aging conservatives of the district who don’t care very much what her religious beliefs and motivations are. She is only one among many of the religious right who saw their fortunes peak in the Bush administration.
The 2006 election began to see the unraveling of their influence, and the 2008 election demolished it, at least in appearance. But that does not mean the end of the religious right. My suspicion is that their hard core leadership will simply assert that 2008 was proof that “the beast” of Revelation has been loosed on the earth, and that they will need to redouble their efforts as God’s warriors. What that may mean in practical terms remains unknown. Perhaps they will retreat back into the separatist faith fortresses from which they emerged.
My real question is not so much about them as it is about us in the so-called Main Line churches (including R.C.s). Will we be able to vigorously assert the gospel message of love, healing, reconciliation, justice and hope as Jesus has commanded us to do, not in opposition to the religious right, but in place of it? We do an awful lot of talking to each other, but will we, at the local level, boldly proclaim the Good News of God in Christ to those who so very much need to hear it?