The Rise of Political Christianity

Article excerpt

It is my contention that in the last three years since the attacks of Sept. 11, deeply religious Americans have experienced an existential anxiety that is translating into a political backlash that is threatening American secularism, American democracy and America's traditional respect for international law and international public opinion.

Unlike Europe, American has always been a religious nation. Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831 claimed that religion was the first political institution of American democracy. On Nov. 2, we saw this first political institution unleash a backlash against the assault on Christianity from Muslims--therefore the support for Bush's irrational and bloody foreign policy and against the growing secularization of American society; therefore the across-the-board support for a ban on gay marriage. Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah and Oregon passed constitutional amendments banning gay marriages. A large number of voters, nearly 25 percent, said that the primary issue for them was "moral values." Moral values are being widely understood as the Christian conservative opposition to gay marriage and abortion rights. But I suspect there is more to it.

The rise of political Christianity--a coalition of white born-again Christians, conservative Catholics, conservative African Americans and conservative Hispanics--is concerned with more than gay marriages and abortion rights. Political Christianity seeks to breach the wall of separation between the church and state and wishes to make this country a Christian nation.

America has been experiencing nativist resurgence along with the rise of a form of Christianity--evangelical --that is both self-righteous and "untraditional." It is unwilling to compromise and is uncomfortable with enduring American traditions of religious tolerance, freedom of conscience, fundamental equality of all and appreciation for diversity. …