New book charts fresh course for U.S. Religious Right
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is well known as one of the leading activists of the Religious Right in the United States. Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr, founder of the High Impact Leadership Coalition, is one of the most influential voices of the black conservative movement.
The two have come together to chart a future course for conservative Christian political activism in a just published book entitled “Personal Faith, Public Policy”. The issues they discuss include the value of life, poverty and justice and rebuilding the traditional family unit.
They argue that conservative Christians need to speak out more on issues like poverty and racial reconciliation while maintaining their opposition to abortion and gay rights. They say no one political party – i.e., the Republican Party – should assume to command evangelical support unless it delivers the goods and that born-again Christians should also woo Democrats.
They also say that an evangelically inspired third party is a “powerful possibility”.
The book is sure to raise some eye-brows. The authors say that “what Jesus warned would occur in the last days are almost identical to what some global warming theorists say is going to happen”, pointing to what they see is the parallel between scientific and Biblical predictions of famines and extreme weather events.
But they adopt the view of secular sceptics of climate change who say economic resources spent on capping carbon emissions would be better spent in areas like poverty alleviation. The authors spoke with Reuters about their book and the future of the Religious Right, whose obituary they say is being prematurely written – and not for the first time.
Q: You say the Religious Right is not dead. How will it change in the next few years?
PERKINS: “It’s growing more diverse and it’s maturing. And it’s becoming more focused on the issues as opposed to the more political or partisan side … ”
Q: How is it losing its partisan edge?
PERKINS: “In 2004 evangelicals were clearly very in line with the Republican Party but that’s because of what they were saying. George Bush campaigned very hard on the marriage issue … There was promise of a (federal) marriage amendment (to ban gay marriage) and of course after the election all of that fell by the way side. The Republicans did not advance the values agenda that they had committed to … The Republican Party has drifted away from those issues and to the degree that they drift away from those issues they will lose support …”
JACKSON: “I think you’ll find that if in fact the GOP moves away from a lot of the values that it has stood for you will find that (evangelicals) will have no problem moving into an independent kind of status.”
PERKINS: “That is actually happening. The polling data shows more and more evangelicals are not identifying with the Republican Party, they are identifying as independents. The way that this has been misconstrued is that somehow the Republican loss is a Democratic gain. That’s just not true…It’s not as if evangelicals have suddenly become liberal.”
Q: Bishop Jackson, you have called abortion a “black genocide”. Do you see an intrinsic racism on this issue from some on the liberal/left?
JACKSON: “I do believe that it is a strategic plan. We only need to look at Margaret Sanger’s (founder of the American Birth Control League which became Planned Parenthood) philosophical orientation. From the beginning she thought that she should exterminate inferior races … There is this openness to receive money to abort all babies but black babies in particular.”
Q: On global warming, you say there is a possibility that what some people say is climate change may be the pre-signals of the End of Times. Can you elaborate on this?
PERKINS: “We need to be careful about surrendering national sovereignty or grinding our economy to a halt thinking we can stop all of this … There is very clear evidence in the scripture that some of these things will occur in the End Times.”
JACKSON: “I would add that as a return on investment there is no provable model yet that shows that X-amount of dollars into CO2 reduction yields so many degrees cooler…”