The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Leftie to Theophobes: Calm Down

Via Meadia has spilled a lot of virtual ink trying to reassure parts of the blogosphere that the “Christianists” aren’t coming in the middle of the night to lock us all up.  Whether responding to alarmism about supposed power surges by “dominionists” or Mormons, we keep pointing out that while there are all kinds of fruitcakes in our rich and wonderful land, the US keeps moving away rather than toward some kind of enforced religious uniformity.

It’s as foolish for the left to hyperventilate about the dominionist danger as it is for the right to get its knickers in a twist over alleged Muslim plots to impose Sharia.  America has a lot of problems these days; the imposition of theocracy — whether Catholic, evangelical, dominionist, Islamic, Jewish, Zoroastrian — isn’t one of them.

Fortunately, some writers on the left are also trying to help the overwrought and the panic stricken calm down.  Michael Kazin, for example, co-editor of Dissent, understands that the “Christianists” aren’t taking over tomorrow, and writing in The New Republic, he offers an obituary for the Christian Right:

[W]hatever their influence on the Republican primary, the Christian Right is fighting a losing battle with the rest of the country—above all, when it comes to abortion  and same-sex marriage, the issues they care most about. A strong majority of Americans backs abortion in the early months of a pregnancy. If elected president, it’s exceedingly unlikely that Romney would ever sign legislation that could lead to the indictment of millions of women and tens of thousands of physicians for fetal murder. Last fall, even voters in Mississippi soundly rejected a bill that might have done just that.

Meanwhile, support for gay rights is rising, quite swiftly. Same-sex marriage tops fifty percent in some recent polls, and the remarkably placid response to New York’s recent legalization of the practice will make it easier for other states to follow suit. With over two-thirds of Americans now endorsing the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the debate on that once controversial issue is now a matter for historians to analyze.

Some of the changes in American morals and mores are good and some are troubling, but Kazin is basically right: America is becoming much more of a live-and-let-live society.  The public likes values and for the most part it likes religion, but one of the values that Americans care about is tolerance.

I’ve said it before and I say it again: The Handmaid’s Tale is not coming to a country near you.

Published on January 24, 2012 4:42 pm
  • WigWag

    It is absolutely astounding how much influence Christian conservatives (aka “value voters”) have lost in the Republican Party. How long ago was it that Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Ralph Reed were major Republican power brokers?

    Think of the situation that faces these value voters now as they contemplate which of the two leading contenders for the Republican nomination to support.

    One candidate is a major leader in a church that rejects the Trinity and believes that not only are God the Father and Jesus his son two distinct beings, but that they are corporeal in nature, not spirit. Their party might nominate a candidate who believes that baptism after death (baptism for the dead) is a legitimate and sanctified procedure and many of that candidate’s co-religionists also believe that God literally has a wife (a Mrs. God so to speak). None of this includes any of the more untraditional beliefs that many but not all Mormons cleave to (such as the idea that Mormons can aspire to become deities themselves and, if reports in the press are to be believed, even reign over their own planets.)

    The other choice facing the Christian conservatives who once ruled supreme (or almost supreme) in the Republican Party is a candidate who, before divorcing his second wife asked her for an “open marriage.” An open marriage for crying out loud; who would have thunk it? Newt Gingrich asked his first wife for a divorce shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer (I have heard she was still in the hospital) which makes him sort-of a John Edwards on steroids. While Bill Clinton may have bedded his fair share of bimbos, at least he didn’t leave his wife so he could marry any of them. Let’s not forget Calista’s $100 thousand expense account at Tiffany’s or the fact that if her husband is elected, she will be the first First Lady in American history to be a home wrecker (at least as far as we know).

    While the Mormon running for the Republican nomination does not believe in polygamy; it is easy to imagine Newt Gingrich fantasizing about a world where polygamy was allowed so he wouldn’t have to ask his wives for divorces on such a regular basis.

    Considering all of this, I think Professor Mead is right; the political stock of Christian conservatives is falling like a rock.

  • Anthony

    Does this Quick Take theme corroborate context of Trend #7 or WRM are we witnessing the result of data interpreted correctly (no intelligence failure) with the general public corresponding?

  • http://lorenzo-thinkingoutaloud.blogspot.com/ Lorenzo from Oz

    Just as well, Revolt in 2100 was a much better read.

  • Mrs. Davis

    You obviously haven’t been keeping up to date on the Amish terrorists in Steubenville. When you can’t even get bail, you’ve obviously got the community in the thrall of fear. At least the Federal prosecutors are taking this seriously. Next stop GITMO.

  • http://inthisdimension.com Alex Scipio

    I’m always amused by SoCons who put abortion and homosexuality over education, national security, taxes and the economy, to say nothing of their call for a limited government – that somehow tells people what to do in their bedrooms (Constitutional citation, please?).

    The most fascinating parts of the discussion are these:

    1. If Roe were overturned, as the Far Right SoCons demand, every state (well, maybe ID wouldn’t) would legalize abortion immediately. No woman of child-bearing age in American EVER has lacked access to legal abortion. Women vote. Ain’t gonna change. Turning the decision back to the states would result in exactly what we have now. But it WOULD shut the SoCons up.

    2. The ONLY thing holding-together the fractious Democrat party is abortion. If Roe were overturned, the Dem Party would immediately fall-apart. THIS is why they don’t want it overturned. It isn’t as though Democrats believe in anyone’s freedom.

    So – overturning Roe (which is bad law to begin with), would result in legal abortion, as decided by the States (10th Amendment and all that), and the destruction of the Democrat coalition.

    Works for me.

  • John

    Have to disagree with you about the support for abortion. Polls show that opposition to it has actually grown over the years, particularly among the young. The March for Life in DC routinely draws well over a hundred thousand every year, and often far more. The Personhood amendment in Mississipi failed because it was too extreme, to the point that the Catholic hierarch in the state opposed it.

  • Jbird

    There were a lot of lies perpetrated about the personhood amendment. It would not have outlawed all contraception as opponents vociferously argued because not all contraception destroys a fertilized egg. “The Pill”, for instance, is the most widely used method for the prevention of pregnancy and it prevents ovulation which is allowable under a personhood amendment. Pro-abortion advocates also made it sound like every miscarriage would result in manslaughter charges.

  • Thomas Hughes

    The stated trend of live and let live (laissez-faire) social values in the US (and a the West), is an aberration to Natural Law (or the TAO, per CS Lewis -Abolition of Man) and in tow will lead to an enslaved human spirit. Teaching children that gender ID is a question is a formula for social chaos.