What’s Right with the Religious Right

Sometimes those of us who write in defense of the Tea Party or Christian conservatism fear that an actual encounter with Tea Partiers or Christian conservatives will be disillusioning.  It’s easy to defend the principles of economic and social conservatism from a distance; but what happens when you actually encounter the people up close?  You’re on record claiming that these are salt-of-the-earth people, good rational people (darn it) with a genuine faith and sturdy American values — but what if you’re wrong?  Everything you’ve written makes sense to you from behind your desk, when you’re typing away at your laptop, but what if the liberal media is actually right, and these people are a bunch of barking lunatics?

I felt a little of that fear as I approached a Tea Party event in Boston a couple years ago, and I quickly found those fears unfounded.  Yet I felt that fear again last Saturday as I drove the last few miles to the Iowa State Fairgrounds for the Faith and Freedom Coalition banquet and presidential forum.  Those fears were not assuaged when I saw a withered old man on a street corner near the fairgrounds holding a sign that read: “Sodomy Ruins Nations.”  Neither were my fears allayed when I saw a group of 22 men and women standing in a group outside the venue who looked as though they had just rolled out of bed and decided to act self-righteous, judgmental and disorderly.

Occupy the Iowa State Fairgrounds (HT AllAmericanBlogger)

However, as it turns out, the men and women who had actually come for the Faith and Freedom Coalition event were courteous, informed, reasonable, good-humored people — and the 22 in the group outside the venue were Occupy Wall Street protestors.  “This is what democracy looks like!” the OWS protestors chanted, over and over again.  Well, true enough; protesting is a fine democratic tradition.  But democracy really looks a lot like the 1000 Iowans who ate fried chicken off paper plates inside the Knapp Center and listened with understanding and appreciation to a far-ranging discussion of political problems and policies, in order to select a candidate who represents their values.  As Ralph Reed said to me and Michael Gerson after the event, “This is what’s right with America.”

I agree.  It’s not the only thing right with America.  But there is something right about the Christian Right.

I’ve often been critical of the Christian Right in the Falwell/Robertson era, even as I’ve defended them against caricature.  Mistakes were made, boundaries crossed.  Yet I drove straight into the beating heart of the Christian Right — and was deeply encouraged by what I saw.  Perhaps I had bought in, just a little bit, to the caricatures and condemnations of the Religious Right that stream forth from the major organs of media and opinion.  Perhaps I had absorbed just a touch of their scorn.  And, I confess, perhaps I had succumbed to the temptation to criticize in order to feel superior, in order to establish some distance between me and “them”.  If I could defend Religious Righters from caricature, and yet simultaneously criticize them for errors and excesses, then it sets me apart as a new breed of Christian conservative, a better and more respectable version.

I still believe that we can and should learn from the mistakes of the Falwell/Robertson era.  I think that certain regions of the American evangelical church essentially became owned-and-controlled colonies of the GOP.  Since the GOP (at least in theory) stood for their values on life and family issues, Christian conservatives were too inclined to overlook the ways in which the Republican Party failed to stand for biblical values in other areas.  Republican politicians sought greater power for themselves and so they expanded the size and the reach of the federal and state governments; the evangelical church should have been more critical of an adventurist foreign policy, of the failure of the GOP to move the ball further on the protection of a culture of life, and of the growth of crony capitalism and its corrupt imbrication of big government and big business.

Were some in the older generation of the Religious Right racist or sexist or promoters of any number of unsavory -isms?  To be sure.  But that’s true in other political groups as well, and less a reflection of the ideology of the Religious Right than of an old, dying but not-yet-gone way of looking at the world that still survives, perhaps, in slightly greater measure in the South — at least for a few more years.  There are always bad apples.  On the whole, however, the men and women of the Religious Right are kind and generous, reasonable and compassionate.

Some of their beliefs may seem old-fashioned or unscientific to the brahmins of the ivory towers.  Some of their values may seem backwards to the cultural elite.  I believe that evolution, for instance, is perfectly compatible with the Christian scriptures and presently the best available explanation for the development of species.  I also believe that the children of illegal immigrants should not suffer by law for their parents’ decisions, that stricter gun laws are entirely reasonable, and that Christians should not support the death penalty.  So I still have my areas of difference.

Yet I now feel no desire to distance myself from the people in the Religious Right.  Rather, on Saturday I was proud to be in their midst.  These are people who believe that life is an inestimable gift and a sacred treasure, to uphold and protect from the very first moment of conception to the very last breath.  These are people who believe that marriage should honor the pattern shown in scripture, that children should be reared by loving mothers and fathers, that families form the best bulwark against poverty, and that our culture should give careful thought to the influences and temptations it puts in front of its young people.  And these are people who believe that the government should form a final safety net, but that families and churches and local institutions should be the first line of defense, and the second and the third — that our commitment to the social good should be wise and should steward our resources for generations, rather than excusing and facilitating generations of poverty — that the government has a role to play in regulating the economy and defending against unfair business practices, but that its influence should be as minimal as possible in order to maximize freedom and maintain the efficiency of the free market — and that our market should encourage creativity, initiative and self-reliance, the dignity of man made in the image of a Creator God.  They also believe that a culture that is richly seeded with what is truly true and good and beautiful, and leaders who are shaped by classical Judeo-Christian values, can have an extraordinarily beneficial effect upon our nation.

These are among my own deepest convictions on social matters as well.  In other words, I think what the Religious Right has right is vastly more important than what it has wrong.

I’ll have much more to write in the coming days about this event, but I wanted first to sort through these feelings.  I am conservative, and I am a Christian, and I am a conservative Christian.  I welcome that.  I choose to work for development from within, rather than setting myself apart as some sort of superior meta-critic.  To everyone who has asked me how I can associate myself with the Religious Right, given all the negative associations in mainstream media and elsewhere, this is the reason.  I still think they’re right on the most important things.

About Timothy Dalrymple

Timothy Dalrymple was raised in non-denominational evangelical congregations in California. The son and grandson of ministers, as a young boy he spent far too many hours each night staring at the ceiling and pondering the afterlife.
 
In all his work he seeks a better understanding of why people do, and do not, come to faith, and researches and teaches in religion and science, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, the origins of atheism, Christology, and the religious transformations of suffering

  • Brantley Gasaway

    Tim, not sure if you are aware of this book, but you may find Jon Shield’s “The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right” a useful study to supplement your own experience: http://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Virtues-Christian-Right/dp/0691137404

  • http://www.debatingobama.blogspot.com Greg Metzger

    Well said. As one who has wondered why about you and Religious Right, this is a good explanation. And I can certainly say that I am glad you are working to develop it from within! I will keep challenging you, and you me, but that too is our heritage. I hope you are right, btw, about all this, but when I consider the growing embrace of “Christian nation” historicism I remain doubtful.

  • John Haas

    “… courteous, informed, reasonable, good-humored people …”

    If you’re the sort of fellow to swallow stories about the president being man-handled into acquiescing to Operation Neptune Spear against his will, I imagine they would strike one as eminently informed and rational.

  • Andrew W.

    Timothy, this is a wonderful post!

  • Tim

    I often find myself feeling superior to “those other Christians” in the religious right, so this is a useful check on my pride. Most members of the religious right don’t agree with Pat Robertson’s more extreme utterances, and few members are being nasty in blog comment threads.

  • Basil

    Do you think you would have been welcomed in a “courteous, informed, reasonable, good-humored” way if you were say, Latina, lesbian and female? Somehow I doubt it.

    • John Haas

      Well maybe if you were “Latina, lesbian and female” and in Iraq.

      Oh, wait . . .

    • Brett Blatchley

      I like this article, but I have to say I have misgivings.

      I’m generally conservative, I am Christian, and I’ve considered myself a conservative Christian…I didn’t grow-up in the Church and was a committed atheist, but surrendered to Jesus when I was in college, and I really needed to be convinced that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life: my conversion experience was prolonged and agonizing. Once I decided for Jesus however, it was natural for me to inhale the scriptures and gather with Bible-believing people…people we would call Evangelicals today…

      BUT I’m have having increasingly serious reservations about Evangelicals (with a capital E).

      Things I’ve always had reservations about are coming to the forefront in my life (and because of the culture war) – not the basics of our faith, things as defined by, say, the Nicene Creed, rather things that are either subjective, or depend on how one interprets scripture, or simply traditions.

      I’m having trouble with the Christian subculture: bluntly, I now think that it is wrong for Evangelicals to wall ourselves off and assume there’s nothing of value outside our culture, and that unbelievers are basically “untouchable,” and there’s nothing of real value here and now and our eyes should mostly be on eternity. In this view, the Gospel is *ONLY* the plan-of-salvation (when it is that, but also the redemption of creation and our lives as well).

      So, I find that even as I perceive myself to be growing closer to God, I also perceive myself as growing away from some of my Christian brothers and sisters. Bluntly, I now fail the ‘purity test’ of some (and have been rejected), and it is clear that I cannot in good faith be an Evangelical, even as I am an evangelical…to such people I am one they would judge as having “fallen away” – not because I reject Jesus, but because I question some secondary things they consider sacrosanct…

      But to address the question above about “latina, lesbian, and female.” Sadly, I think that most Evangelicals have problems here: they are cultural, but they are cloaked in “scripture” such that a reasoned discussion is usually not possible. How can you reason with someone who feels that their interpretation of scripture is absolutely God’s intended meaning even when other godly people can see another interpretation? In their eyes, if you don’t agree with them, you can’t possibly be taking the scriptures seriously, and even your relationship with God is suspect. THIS comes-up **frequently** whenever any of the hard, controversial topics are raised (such as women in leadership roles, what God thinks {and would have us do} with respect to homosexuality and people, or “how would Jesus vote?”).

      I think the answer here is humility and profound dependence on the Holy Spirit, recognizing that none of us, even those the most close to God, have all God’s wisdom and meaning. Some people assume that simply by reading the Bible, they have all the knowledge necessary to live and they bristle at those who do not agree. The truth is that the Bible by itself (though it is God’s Word) is not sufficient: it requires His Spirit to illuminate these scriptures (which turns knowledge into wisdom). He will apply this to our lives as we cooperate with Him…

      But, back to the question again: I have experienced both bad and good with respect to whether I am accepted or not by my brothers and sisters. You see, I am in Christ, in fellowship with Him, filled with His Spirit, AND I am a transgendered person. Some do not believe that this is possible, nor that I am a legitimate kind of person. Others acknowledge my vibrant relationship with Christ and realize there are things in God’s world that they aren’t going to understand yet, here in this life. In a perfect world, I would have been an “orange.” Because of The Fall, I am a “plum.” It doesn’t seem likely that God will heal me by turning me into a “orange.” Rather, it seems from my walk with Him that He is making me into a delicious and comely “plum pie” to be a blessing to others…

      I’m not sure what the solution is here…I don’t think I can go back to where I was; I have the deep sense that God is moving me forward, but it’s a bit scary. I very much have to depend on Him to keep me close, to seek me out if I become a “sheep.” As I grow, I find that God grows ever larger and more mysterious in more ways, even as I come to understand and manifest more of the character of His Son Jesus…

      • Brett Blatchley

        (If I become a LOST sheep, that is! I’ve asked Abba to “break my legs” if that’s what it takes to keep me from going astray. I’ve asked Him to bind me to His altar because I know that there are parts of my walk with Him where I would otherwise try to run away. So after asking these things as honestly and sincerely as I can, then what else can I do but depend on Him? Isn’t this what faith is about, and isn’t this what He is looking for in us?)

    • LarryK

      Not only do I think a person of such a description would be welcomed, I’m sure of it. I am very conservative and I don’t believe gay and lesbians should be married at a church but I do not oppose them getting a civil union from the state. That is the proper separation of church and state in my mind, and I am willing to debate the point without malice and hatred for people who think differently. I also have several gay and lesbian friends. I didn’t go out of my to specifically befriend someone who was gay or lesbian but after meeting a person who became a good friend I’ve gone to their house many times for dinner parties and met many more gay and lesbian folks who are all good people. I know I don’t agree with them on several religious and political matters but I don’t require all of my friends to be cookie cutter ideologues.

      And what on earth does being Latino have to do with meeting hostility at a conservative church conference? Are you aware that the majority of Latino church going families identify themselves as conservative?

      The person with the highest level of bias here sounds like you. Perhaps you should take a bit of an introspective look and find out why you place such hate in the hearts of people who think differently than you. You might find the heart where this hate originates from is your own.

  • Daniel S.

    Basil,

    I was in attendance and there were several minorities, including the MC of the entire event. Moreover, Cain is a rock star with those folks. The efforts by some to paint that group as racist is silliness which is based on the stereotyping that many on the left love to rail against.

  • Bill

    I don’t doubt that there are nice religious right Tea Party conservatives. There’s also this.

    “[Obama's] handlers knew that Obamas birth place, track record, and UN American associations would be ignored because he was handsome, black and following Republican and Bush fatigue. People were bored, distracted and seduced into believing Obama would be the next Martin Luther King or John F. Kennedy. Little did those who voted for him know that he would end up being the next Stalin, Chavez, Mussolini and Hitler and boldly seeking to destroy America.”

    Some right wing nut job holed up in Idaho somewhere pounding out fanatical hate literature on his laptop? No. That’s “Dr.” Laura Roth, the star on the Tea Party Radio Network. You can direct link to her barrel full of demented from teaparty.org. It’s on their front page on the left hand side. Spend a few minutes there. It’s some of the ugliest stuff you’ll ever read.

    Also, in regard to your paragraph delineating what the good folks you met with believe … I’m happy for them to believe these things. I believe a few of them myself. My question is, when your belief takes on the colors of religious fervor, are you able to genuinely take part in a political process that requires compromise with what you see as evil? That’s where I’m afraid these folks fall short. At least their current representatives in Washington fall short. When your way is God’s way, can you compromise with the enemy, with “evil” in order to achieve your objectives in at least a limited fashion?

    • Basil

      Bill

      That was a very thoughtful insight. Thank you for that!

    • LarryK

      Like the OWS apologists who have to work overtime saying “that’s just the actions of a few” the words of Laura Roth are hardly the mainstream of Tea partiers. The most egregious racist action at a tea party was miraculously not recorded on any cell phone, camera or microphone. The rest were the occasional banner waving nut job that was asked to leave by the party organizers. Yet at OWS there is no such self control over the mob, they even go out of their way to not have leadership so no one can point blame or take responsibility.

      The point I take most offense at is the assumption that religious right is more likely to be blinded by religious fervor. I think we can all agree that Jesus was not a Politian and debating whether or not he was a liberal or conservative is pointless at best and the bible does not include political instruction. It is a personal instruction for the body of Christ it is not meant as the way to rule or run a nation.

      However as Christian members of a free nation that not only allows but calls for the participation of its citizens to participate we have a civic responsibility. Demonizing a small segment of Christians and trying to use that as label for the entire right wing of conservative Christians is disingenuous and hypocritical. Have you herd the chants at some pro union, gay rights, and pro abortion rallies? How about we let each side have its crack pots and not try to smear the whole for the actions of its outliers.

  • http://www.brooks-joe.com JoeBrooks

    How many of us are unwittingly destined to hear Christ tell us, “I never knew you; depart from Me.” Maybe more than you realize.

    My new book, The Four Pillars of the Kingdom, is set to be released in a week. It is, not only a response to some of the metaphysical arguments of the so-called “New Atheists,” but also a call to believers to take their faith serious in a very real way. You can find a few excerpts from the work and the cover art on my website:

    http://www.brooks-joe.com

    Please read and let me know what you think!

    Thanks,
    Joe Brooks

  • John Powers

    Wow, that Teaparty.org is truly shocking. They even noted that the State Department spent $70,000 on Obama’s 2nd biography, the one he got a better royalty deal on. Radical stuff!

  • Gigi

    To Basil:
    I’m Latina and and female and I belong to a Tea Party group and I’ve always been treated courteously and respectfully. I prefer to call myself an American, however. As a conservative, part of our value system is to break down those walls that keep us segregated into groups. As for our lesbian and gay friends, well, there are gay conservative groups. The majority, however, have not joined forces with the Tea Parties or conservatives because their agenda does not support the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage and family and they tend to get angry about that. Let’s be realistic: any group would welcome those who support their cause. Those who are working against them, naturally, would not be welcomed. So, ask yourself, given your lifestyle and political choices, could you embrace the political goals of the Tea Party? Then, does it make sense to ask if you would be welcome?

  • Simone

    Tim, as a young Christian who has seen how the idea of evolution being compatible with Christianity ravage the faith of many. Please explain to me how evolution is compatible with Christianity. Do you mean evolution in terms of molecules to monkeys to man? If you do this is highly religious propaganda wrapped in scientific garb. I respect your observations on the religious right and the the idea that they are caricatured by an anti-god media. I understand the pressure of not being seen as backward but if evolution is true as promoted by Richard Dawkins et al then the Bible makes no sense. God bless you.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Hi Simone. I really don’t care whether evolution (on the micro- or macro- level) is true or not. I don’t find it incompatible with my faith. I find a certain kind of worship of evolution, and a certain philosophy that often accompanies atheistic evolutionism, incompatible with Christian faith in the extreme. But I do not find the notion that species developed according to genetic mutations and natural selection to present a problem.

      Obviously it would take too long here to explain this, in the comments. But it’s really such a non-issue for me. I only get bothered when people suggest that you have to believe one thing or the other in order to be Christian or in order to be rational.

      Many blessings,

      Tim

  • Larry

    Gee whiz … kind words about the Christian Right has spawned (predictably) howls from the religious Left. I find this consistency among the Left … secular Lefties play fast and loose with the facts (actually, they abandon and replace them) while religious Lefties play fast and loose with the Truth. Both require a narrative that demands a bogeyman (a wholly contrived and utterly necessary fixture) and a knight in shining armor (always them) riding to the rescue of the powerless (those disadvantaged and disenfranchised, yet strangely empowered with rights, who need only to surrender their liberty in exchange for plunder). Like the Music Man’s Harold Hill liberals of all stripes cry out that trouble is brewing, right here in River city … though of course none is. Crisis is essential, though, if anyone is to buy their wares. Their natural enemy? Anyone or anything which places a premium on accuracy in reporting history or current events … anyone with the temerity to suggest that liberty demands private virtue to survive.

    • John Haas

      Doggone it Larry, you’re right. Just today, under the headline “Obama Minions Are Massing for a Coup,” TeaParty.org warns me of something called UNPA–United Nations Parliamentary Assembly–and explains “UNPA is likely a project launched indirectly by the CIA and the folks who brought the world numerous color revolutions resulting in military dictatorship (as it did in Egypt) and “humanitarian” bloodbaths (like NATO’s operation in Libya).”

      That’s important to know. Don’t you think?

      • Daniel S.

        I wonder whether we can locate any crazy comments by liberals.

      • Larry

        John, cherry picking the most absurd statements offered by fringe elements on the right seems to easily satisfy the Left’s silly myths. But it does nothing to stop their slide into irrelevance nor span the ever widening gulf that exists between them and mainstream America. Even now the Occupy gang illustrates both the strange mythology which occupies the minds of liberals and their willingness to believe their own press. While insisting that they are growing in popularity, they and the President and Party which has now fully aligned with them, seem utterly unaware of the scorn and disdain they are earning from most Americans. The Left’s deception has now traveled full circle … they are now the delusional victims of their own culture of lies. How sad but fitting.

        • John Haas

          Larry, here’s Russell Kirk in 1986. See if what he says sounds familiar:

          “The ideologue cannot govern well; but neither can the time-server. Conservative people in politics need to steer clear of the Scylla of abstraction and the Charybdis of opportunism. So it is that thinking folk of conservative views ought to reject the embraces of the following categories of political zealots:

          Those who urge us to sell the National Parks to private developers. …

          Those who instruct us that “the test of the market” is the whole of political economy and of morals.

          Those who fancy that foreign policy can be conducted with religious zeal, on a basis of absolute right and absolute wrong.

          Those who, imagining that all mistakes and malicious acts are the work of a malign or deluded “elite,” cry with Carl Sandburg, “The people, yes!”

          Those who assure us that great corporations can do no wrong.

          Those who discourse mainly of the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderburgers, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

          And various other gentry who abjure liberalism but are capable of conserving nothing worth keeping.

          Is anybody left in the conservative camp? Yes.

          There survives, even unto our day, a conservative cast of character and of mind capable of sacrifice, thought, and sound sentiment.”

          Wonder what he’d say now? Blessedly for him, God in His providential mercy has spared him the sight.

          • Larry

            Sounds very much like authentic conservatives today … hmmm, imagine that. Perhaps conservative principles really are timeless …

  • Micheal

    If you think our government should regulate any part of American society then you cannot be a conservitive per my definition. One of our founders , George Washington, I think, said our federal government is best for foreign affairs and our states government is best for our domestic affairs. (paraphrased)
    And evolution compatible with the Bible? That is a liberal view, you have to take liberties to come to that conclusion. How one can take 6 days and turn it into millions of years is beyond me. I know there are many, if not a majority of “bible scholars” who would agree with your view, but that doesn’t make it so. Evolution is an ancient belief which goes all the way back to Babylon, perhaps further back than that. It is also a tool of the communists. Go back to the congressional record in the 60′s, the communist goals where read on one of floors of congress. One of those goals were to take over education at every level. Once one has control of education they have control of the country in a matter of years. I believe they have gained control of all government funded education.
    Gorbachev said they would take us from the inside, something he knew was well on it’s way. McCarthy knew this and he was successfully demonized by the communist propaganda machine we call the media.
    Know this, those who are pushing for the communist principals are the ones that will be gone after first because once communism takes over a society those are the ones most likely to be disenfranchised and will become the biggest enemy of communism. You need to read testimonies of those escaped communism and be astonished. I’m afraid you and a good portion of Americans have been brainwashed. Btw, please take this as constructive criticism not as an attack, thank you and may God renew your mind. P.S. I was not allow by the app to review my comment so please overlook any grammar errors.

    • God

      Sorry, the two are linked. I’ll explain how after the commercial break…

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      You do realize that letters like this don’t help your cause, don’t you?

      -Tim

  • doug

    And yet, these are the people that willingly bedded with the big business and the corporate megastructures. These are the people that conjoined with imperialistic, warmongers. These are the people who believe in a crazy, blind nationalism, a strange historical revisionism (for the U.S and Israel), have a paranoid persecution complex, and are now generally are regarded as american fascists (whether rightly or wrongly).

    Finally, these are the people whose culture is almost cultic, whose politics is totalitarian, whose history is narrowly based on radical Calvinism, wrapped in a literalist, apocalyptic, militant, punitive, sexist and homophobic vision that uses patriotic and religious rhetoric dreaming of a Christian state … with little or no patience for even the very concept and practice of an open society.

  • Bill

    I apologize for the length of the following, but I thought it might shed some light, or at least heat, on a subject that has been running through a number of these threads. That is that those of us on the left tend to think those on the right are too committed to ideology to effectively engage politically on issues important to them.

    The following is from an exchange I had on Facebook, where I have a number of friends across the political spectrum. And, as I frequently poke fun at the right, I regularly take a lot of abuse.

    I was in the midst of an exchange with two very conservative friends when I made the following observation. I quote:

    “Calvin, I’ve been pondering your responses here … lines like ‘there’s Bill’s standard solution … well then, raise taxes’ … and I think I’ve realized why we have such a hard time communicating. You see me through the lens of yourself. You think I’m an ideologue like you are. But therein lies one of the major differences between liberals and conservatives. I’m not committed to any ideology. My answer is to raise taxes?! That is of course absurd. I’m as pleased to have low taxes as the next guy. My answer is big government? Also absurd. I’d love to have a small federal government. I’m as much for individual freedom as the next guy. Liberals are simply committed to understanding a problem and then trying to fix it. If we think fixing a problem requires raising taxes, we’ll raise them. If it requires lowering taxes, we’ll lower them. If it requires a government program, we’ll create it. If it requires government butting out, we’ll butt out. This is what we find so frustrating about conservatives. For conservatives, it is all about ideology. Taxes bad. Government bad. So no matter the problem, no solution is entertained if it crosses the ideology. Conservatives see everything in these good vs. evil, black and white terms. Liberals just don’t see the world that way. We simply want to fix problems. Now you will of course disagree with the ways liberals might try to solve problems. Fine. The problem is we can’t even have that discussion with diehard conservatives like yourself, because you won’t entertain any facts or solutions that cross your ideology. You just won’t see it. You’re convinced you’re right 100% of the time, and we’re wrong 100% of the time. And therein lies the central problem in Washington post-Tea Party. Republicans used to entertain compromise. No longer … Gridlock …”

    Well, as you might imagine, the next 15 posts … my friends are a bit hyperactive … rained abuse on my head, the nicest along the lines of how hypocritical I was, and I’m as committed to ideology as they are, and they’re as interested in problem solving as I am, etc. So I proposed the following test. I quote again:

    “O.k. let’s test my hypothesis. Let’s see if I’m as ideological as you all, and if you all are as willing to focus on problem solving as you are on ideology. I’ll pose some questions centered around three problems that we all can agree are problems needing addressing.

    1. We can all agree that our debt is way too much, and we can all agree that we’d like to see a budget more in balance. I’m willing to offer Social Security reforms, raise the retirement age, don’t give cost of living increases for the next 5 years, etc. I’ll put MediCare reform on the table. We can consider transferring the whole shebang somehow to the not for profit medical outfits who have shown proven success at keeping medical costs down. This will hopefully force prices down across the board. Heck, you can even cut NPR if that will make your toes twinkle. Heck, I’ll even consider an opt-out option for folks from both programs if we can find a way to keep the programs solvent in the meantime. Now, will you, in turn, agree to raise taxes so we can get this budget in balance?

    2. We can both agree education needs help. I’ll agree to support Charter Schools and giving parents the option to send their kids to the better schools if they can. I’ll let you keep testing to make sure no child is left behind. I’ll even let you tie teacher pay to some form of merit. Will you, in turn, agree to raise taxes so we can make sure that those inner city schools that are still left behind can offer the kinds of programs that will give those kids a chance to make it? And also to raise teacher pay so we can attract better young people to the profession?

    3. We can all agree that the numbers of abortions need to be cut. I’ll agree to limit a woman’s right to choose to whatever age science is able to make the fetus viable outside of the womb. As low as science can go, that’s how low we’ll go. And I’ll agree to put serious abstinence education into the schools in their sex ed programs. Will you in turn agree to let those same programs also address birth control and condom usage? And will you agree again to raise taxes so we can build homes for young unwed mothers who need a place to stay where they can continue their schooling while pregnant?

    There you have it. What say you?”

    Now this is where it got really interesting. Again, much abuse heaped upon me, but what was fascinating was that they jumped all over my proposed solutions. Your ideas won’t work, etc. Which seemed to me to miss the point. So I replied again. I quote again:

    “Thank you Calvin. You make my point for me. You ‘reject my premise.’ Fine. I reject yours. Given that state of affairs, I’m willing to go against my own beliefs about how things work in key areas, if the other side will also bend so we can reach compromise. I’m willing. You’re not. Whose fault is it that nothing gets done?

    David, you’re at least willing to talk. Thank you for that. But again, I think you miss my point. You say, ‘I would agree to some sort of tax hike IF I thought that would fix the problem.’ But that’s the point isn’t it. I agreed to take steps that I don’t think will fix the problem. In fact, some of the things I agreed to, I think will make it worse. But I’m willing to agree to those things, if you also will agree to some things that you also don’t think will fix the problem. That’s compromise. We both give up something dear to us, we both agree to accept something we might even think is a stupid premise, in order to at least get something we want that we think might begin to address the problem. I’m willing to do so. I’m more interested in fixing the problem than adhering to some sort of ideological purity. Are you?”

    And thus ended the thread. No more replies. It reminds me of the young man I saw on a video shot at a Palin book signing in which he said, “When you’re right you don’t have to compromise. Compromise is for people who are wrong.” Hence gridlock …

  • bobbyd12

    “What’s Right with the Religious Right” Nothing is right with them. If they would gather at their churches or homes to pray, then that is fine. Unfortunately they try to get involved in politics and force their morals on others. I have no interest in your religion or your thoughts. Please keep your religion private, not public.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      Yes, God forbid that people should advocate for their values and beliefs in the public square.

      -Tim

  • http://gendeng.com LONGOR

    Appreciate it for sharing Philosophical Fragments » What’s Right with the Religious Right with us keep update bro love your article about Philosophical Fragments » What’s Right with the Religious Right .


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