Christian conservatives are grappling with election results that suggested that the cultural tide has shifted against them

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jimfrank's picture

Normally I don't place much stock in anything the New York Times has to say about anything, much less about Conservative Christians.  But this statement is true:

"Large churches like the Southern Baptist Convention and the Assemblies of God, which have provided an organizing base for the Christian right, are losing members."

The large denominations are not the only ones losing membership, although the term should be attendance, not membership.  Membership is forever in many churches because it is all but impossible to purge the roll.   Most of us know that when pastors get together they bemoan their dwindling attendance figures.

The American Culture has changed for the worse, and much of the blame lays squarely on the shoulders of Conservative Christians.  The general public sees these believers as hypocritical, intolerant, bigoted, greedy, stiff and backwards.  We recoil at these descriptions and insist it's not that way.  The fact is we are all of these things.  Stereotypes exist for a reason.

There is an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church in Texas who claims to have led over one million people to faith in Christ.  Of course, there is no way to verify such a claim, but it could be true.  My question is this: "Where are those people?"  The larger question is the same: "Where are the Conservative Christians?" 

It's a cliche, "The Church is supposed to be salt and light."  That cliche means vastly different things to different people.  If there is one thing Conservative Christians can learn from the recent election, it is The Church must get to work!  It's not just evangelism, though I intend to place much greater emphasis in my ministry on "soul winning" in the near term.  It's not just discipleship, though learning how to follow Christ is vitally important.  It's not just teaching or preaching or even church planting.  And it's not just leadership training, though training new leaders is paramount because that's what Jesus did with the disciples.  It's all of these things and more, and it will not happen overnight. 

We can blame the "lamestream" Media for propagandizing the culture for Obama and against Conservative Christians.  We can point fingers at the "moochers" who now seem to outnumber the "producers" ("Work hard!  Millions of welfare recipients depend upon you").  The fact is The American Church is losing ground at all levels, and that is because millions of American Christians are not doing what they're supposed to do, that is, whole-heartedly following Christ.

The election losses are a challenge, not a defeat.  Today I will make a list of people who haven't visited our church in a while and ask them to return, and then schedule a follow-up visit with them next week to see if they truly believe in Christ.  What will you do?

 

Jonathan Charles's picture

A weariness has set in for evangelicals over the "culture wars."  Roe v. Wade has been fought for nearly 40 years.  I know evangelicals who have asked, "Is it worth voting on such issues (abortion, gay marriage) for which nothing seems to change, except for the worse, and ignore other issues like the economy?"  And while I think Romney would have been better for the economy, he shot himself in the foot over the 47% comment and for being against the auto bailout when nothing was said about the bailout of the banks.   

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists collectively do not know how to involve themselves in a major political party unless it reflects the unique conditions that Reagan and Bush offered and which were led by ecclesiastical figures and related groups such as Falwell/MM etc. where there is a model that provides the expectation and demand that their proprietary values are significantly the highlighted issues of the party's platform.

And this was readily observed in what it took to coax many who did vote to support Romney, but in doing so referring to him in the vilified terms of the lesser of two evils.

Their effect on culture is less heightened but the uncertainty of many Emergent and Young Restless and Deformed types leading even conservative Evangelical churches into their special form of confused theology filled with apologies to their hearers for dogma has and continues to be a marked contributor to the dilution. As goes the church so goes the nation.

farmer Tom N's picture

I believe the problem is far deeper in the church than just how to deal with the political questions.

The church does not have a coherent understanding of Law and Grace.

Because we teach that the NT church is under Grace, and there is now no need for the Law, we cannot address moral questions because we are teaching incoherence.

The question of abortion and sodomy marriage are outside of Grace. They are questions of moral law,(natural law). Yet the church has so bastardized Grace, the people in the pews no longer believe the moral law even exists.

Add to that the idiocy of many in our pulpits who, when actually addressing issues related to the Law, use the speed limit or paying taxes as examples of obeying the law, while ignoring or soft peddling adultery(affairs in the common language) or gay rights(sodomy in Biblical terms). They focus on the peripheral, the minor things, while giving an unspoken pass to the clear violations of Scriptural mandate. 

Then men who claim to be separatists, men who claim to to have cut their ties with the world, and with those who are apostate. Men who proclaim that abortion is the taking of a human life, a violation of God's Law. Men who proclaim that sodomy is evil, a violation of God's Law. Advocate for, endorse, campaign for and give their consent to a man who gave us $50 dollar co-pay abortions, signed into law sodomy marriage, and made part of his personal fortune off of a company which INCINERATED ABORTED HUMAN BABIES in contract with Planned Parenthood.

The church of jesus christ is incoherent, schizophrenic, and more than a little insane. We call men to be obedient to the Law of God, while giving our blessing to men who hate Him and his WORD. 

JobK's picture

"We can point fingers at the "moochers" who now seem to outnumber the "producers" ("Work hard!  Millions of welfare recipients depend upon you")."

The reality is that the percentage of the population that is welfare recipients is small. (That is, unless you count those who receive MediCare and Social Security among welfare recipients.) The vast majority of the people who voted for Obama do in fact work. Indeed, many of them work 2, sometimes 3 jobs. It is just that their wages are so low that they do not make enough to contribute any real tax revenue. Conservatives don't have any policies to address the fact that thanks to technology and globalization removing manufacturing and agricultural jobs, a significant portion of the population now has to work in low paying service jobs. Also, many conservative ideas - i.e. opposition to unions and the minimum wage - would drive wages even lower. So the Reaganesque "welfare queens" type rhetoric sounds good to the conservative base, but it isn't reality. Truthfully, a great many of Romney's 47% are Republican voters who have no idea that they are "welfare recipients" because to them the only "welfare moochers" are those who benefit from certain programs i.e. public housing/Section 8 and TANF/WIC, and not those who receive or benefit from all forms of government programs and public assistance. 

Another thing: the two groups that have have the highest incomes in this country - Asians and Jews - went overwhelmingly for Obama. Jews voted for Obama by almost 70-30, and it would have been even higher were Obama not perceived to be anti-Semitic and anti-Israel (perceptions that are not entirely without justification incidentally). Asians backed Obama 75-25. See this: http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2012/11/asian-americans-destroy-maker...

Another thing: if you look at who actually drives the economy these days, it isn't red state America. With some exceptions - i.e. Texas and to a lesser extent North Carolina, which by the way went for Obama in 2008 - it is the west coast and the northeast that are the "makers". That is where most of the high wage earners live and critical industries like high tech and finance are. With the decline of the importance of manufacturing, mining and agriculture and decreasing defense spending, red state America is increasingly the "takers" in that they rely on other parts of the country to create jobs and tax revenue for them.

Remember that union dustup over Obama blocking Boeing from shifting some of their manufacturing in South Carolina? The conservative rhetoric over that action (where Obama admittedly overstepped his authority) ignored the fact that there is a reason why companies like Boeing (and Microsoft, IBM, Apple etc.) are located in places like Seattle and not South Carolina to begin with. Instead of creating their own industries, red state America just uses their low tax and right to work policies to get companies that have been built by productive, innovative and highly skilled people in blue state America - or overseas - to put some of their lower paying, lower skilled jobs there.

I read and hear the chatter from the red states about how Toyota, Kia etc. are building cars in right to work states and leaving Detroit in the dust - and this was used to justify bashing Obama for the car company bailout by people who knew full well that if those companies hadn't been bailed out the recession would have been much much worse ... you know the "government motors" crowd - but the real story is that Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee etc. are incapable of creating car companies of their own. The people with the know how to create and run companies like that for the most part don't live in red state America. Red state America can produce Chik-Fil-A but not top communications, software, heavy manufacturing, banking etc. companies that employ high paying workers and generate large profit margins.

Now oil, natural gas and coal deposits are still predominantly in red state America. But when renewable/alternative energy gets cheap and viable (China is already a powerhouse in solar energy, Europe is converting much of their fossil fuel-generated electricity to solar and yes American energy companies are coming around) that is going to take a hit too. (Keep in mind: it is not necessary to totally replace fossil fuels, but only replace enough of it to drive the demand down to where its price is so low that the profit margin is small.) So when that happens, what do you suppose will come of the economies of oil/natural gas states like Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas (whose economy is more diversified than it used to be but still depends heavily on oil and gas), the Dakotas etc.? Pretty much the same thing that happened to much of the midwest and southeast when the family farm - and manufacturing largely centered around things grew on family farms - based economy collapsed. 

Bottom line: conservative rhetoric doesn't match reality when it comes to the economy. The vast majority of the "moochers" do in fact work - and very hard - and the vast majority of the red state "producers" A) don't produce anything of real economic value and Cool rely far more on government programs than they realize or are willing to admit. 

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

jimfrank's picture

Farmer Tom, you are understandably frustrated with preachers ignoring the Law and concentrating on the little things such as speeding tickets and paying taxes.  Recently I spent four Sundays preaching through Romans 13 as preparation for Election Day.  Yes, I DID use speeding as an illustration and ignored abortion and homosexuality.  I am guilty as charged.  However, Romans 13:6-7 specifically addresses taxes, revenue, and other fees associated with monies collected by the Government.  What does Paul teach?  Pay what you owe and don't be a tax cheat.  Paul is quite clear about this.  He also insists that Christians should honor those who deserve honor.  I learned (the hard way!) in the Air Force that though the man with the eagles on his shoulder made some boneheaded decisions I was still under his command and had to respect his person as well as his authority.  Interestingly,  the authority to whom Paul appealed in this passage and in Acts 25:10-12 was Nero.  Nero, of course, is one of the most infamous of the Roman Caesars.  He eventually presided over Paul's execution.  This is more than a little ironic. 

 

farmer Tom N's picture

I'm not going to derail this thread by engaging you in a tax discussion.

I would talk to you about it in private.

But, let me be very clear, I am not saying we should not pay taxes.

I am saying that there are taxes which are immoral usurpation of my liberty. The government has no more right to know how much money I make, than they have a right to know how often my wife and I have sexual relations. It is none of their business. And any tax system which asserts the right of the government to know how much money I make is wrong.

Which is exactly why the communists advocated that kind of tax.

One can argue on principle against a certain kind of tax without violating any law or being disobedient to the Law of God.

 

Mike Durning's picture

I've been saying this for years, and used to preach it when I was a pastor.  

The value in Christians organizing to change laws is limited and temporary (witness Prohibition).    You only change the law till the tide turns against you.

The value in Christians organizing to change hearts and minds is eternal.   When you convert many people in a society to Christ, it makes a difference for generations.  

For 30 years the Christian Right has sought to bring a Righteous Result to our nation, without the righteous foundation of people finding Christ.   Instead of witnessing and discipling, we have picketed, glad-handed, and shouted into bull-horns.

What a colossal waste of time, effort, and money this will have proven if at the end, we didn't change a single law for more than a few short years.

The church will have sold their birthright (engaging in spiritual transformation) for a bowl of porridge (electing the official who seems most interested in pretending to care about the unborn).

Jim's picture

farmer Tom N wrote:
Then men [I presume you mean Pastors (from your previous paragraphy)} who claim to be separatists, men who claim to to have cut their ties with the world, and with those who are apostate. Men who proclaim that abortion is the taking of a human life, a violation of God's Law. Men who proclaim that sodomy is evil, a violation of God's Law. Advocate for, endorse, campaign for ... [I presume you mean Romney!}

Question: Would you separate from Pastors who supported Romney?

 

farmer Tom N wrote:

 

I am saying that there are taxes which are immoral usurpation of my liberty. The government has no more right to know how much money I make, than they have a right to know how often my wife and I have sexual relations.

Comment on "how often my wife and I have sexual relations": That could be Schedule SEX (the short form) (lame attempt at humor!)

Question: I presume that farmers are basically self-employed (this tax guide for farmers looks very complex)?

 

 

farmer Tom N's picture

First question,

Would you separate from Pastors who supported Obama?

Alan Keyes always said that if government attempted to tax marital relations(sex) the form would ask "How many times a month do you have marital relations?" Most women would answer a very small number so that they would have to pay a small tax, most men would lie and say every night, thus paying a higher tax than they really owed.

I am a full time farmer employee, praying for an opportunity to be self employed again. Been praying that way for 15 years.

 

JohnBrian's picture

Mike Durning wrote:

I've been saying this for years, and used to preach it when I was a pastor.  

The value in Christians organizing to change laws is limited and temporary (witness Prohibition).    You only change the law till the tide turns against you.

The value in Christians organizing to change hearts and minds is eternal.   When you convert many people in a society to Christ, it makes a difference for generations.  

For 30 years the Christian Right has sought to bring a Righteous Result to our nation, without the righteous foundation of people finding Christ.   Instead of witnessing and discipling, we have picketed, glad-handed, and shouted into bull-horns.

What a colossal waste of time, effort, and money this will have proven if at the end, we didn't change a single law for more than a few short years.

The church will have sold their birthright (engaging in spiritual transformation) for a bowl of porridge (electing the official who seems most interested in pretending to care about the unborn).

Amen. Could not have said it better myself.

CanJAmerican - my blog
CanJAmerican - my twitter
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G. N. Barkman's picture

Every vote cast is a vote for the lesser of two evils, in some sense and to some degree.  I have never voted for a candidate with whom I agreed on every issue.  Occasionally, for one with whom I agreed on almost every issue, but I can't think of anyone with whom I agreed 100%.  I recently voted for a candidate for State House who was once a member of my church.  I agreed with him on almost everything, but even in this case, there is a minor issue with which I disagree.

That said, it should be obvious that to refuse to vote for "the lesser of two evils" means to refrain from voting.  Some believe that is a noble option.  I believe it to be a dereliction of duty for a Christian.

To vote for the lesser of two evils is to vote for less evil.  That seems to be a good choice to me.

G. N. Barkman

farmer Tom N's picture

There is a great gulf, a chasm, and abyss of difference between acknowledging that all men are sinners, thus evil to some extent, and men who knowingly with malice and forethought do acts of unrepentant evil, boasting and championing their evil deeds.

A man who signed into law $50 dollar co-pay abortions(murder for hire at $50 bucks a pop), ordered government officials to issue sodomy marriage certificates(violating his states Constitution in doing so) and made $50 million dollars of his personal fortune on an investment in Stericycle(a company contracted to Planned Parenthood for disposal services) INCINERATING ABORTED HUMAN BABIES, 

IS EVIL. Not lesser than or less evil. He is EVIL.

Get your facts straight sir.

Jim's picture

Your always interesting to interact with and I appreciate your patience with my questions. 

True statement? You voted for neither Obama nor Romney? 

(I don't need to know or am asking whom you voted ... just if you voted for neither of the above). 

2nd question: I voted for Romney (upfront about it - although kind of wasted in deep blue Minnesota!) .... so was that a sin? Follow on: Hypothetically if we were in the same church ... suppose on the same deacon board .. what would our fellowship look like?

 

Thanks 

Jim's picture

Suppose I have stock in Waste Management. They own landfills. Burned hospital waste ends up in Waste Management landfills. Some of that "waste" (note the quotes) is incinerated waste from abortion clinics. 

Am I complicit in the sin of aborting human beings?

----- 

For those who think  you do not have stock in Waste Management ... check your 401K statements / prospectuses of the funds you've invested

Don Johnson's picture

I tend to vote at every opportunity. However, I don't buy the argument that "not voting" is a dereliction of duty. We don't have "none of the above" on our ballots, and the decision to not vote expresses something about the election itself. I suppose one could spoil one's ballot (can you do that with electronic voting?) as a stronger protest, but it would amount to the same thing. Each citizen has the right to express his choice however he chooses.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

farmer Tom N's picture

First your comparison of Stericycle to Waste Mangement.  This again is the factual difference between lesser evil and EVIL. It is possible for some ones investment portfolio to have investments in things that are questionable in nature. Investments in strip joints, abortions mills, tobacco companies, and even "medical waste" companies, by a investment company. While I would not knowingly invest in these kinds of companies, I do not have power over the investments that the investment company makes. 

This however is different. It is EVIL. I quote from the article which broke the story,

<blockquote> <i>  Here's what happened with Stericycle. In November 1999, Bain Capital and Madison Dearborn Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm, filed with the SEC a Schedule 13D, which lists owners of publicly traded companies, noting that they had jointly purchased $75 million worth of shares in Stericycle, a fast-growing player in the medical-waste industry. (That April, Stericycle had announced plans to buy the medical-waste businesses of Browning Ferris Industries and Allied Waste Industries.) The SEC filing lists assorted Bain-related entities that were part of the deal, including Bain Capital (BCI), Bain Capital Partners VI (BCP VI), Sankaty High Yield Asset Investors (a Bermuda-based Bain affiliate), and Brookside Capital Investors (a Bain offshoot). And it notes that Romney was the "sole shareholder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of BCI, BCP VI Inc., Brookside Inc. and Sankaty Ltd."
The document also states that Romney "may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to" 2,116,588 shares of common stock in Stericycle "in his capacity as sole shareholder" of the Bain entities that invested in the company. That was about 11 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock. (The whole $75 million investment won Bain, Romney, and their partners 22.64 percent of the firm's stock—the largest bloc among the firm's owners.) The original copy of the filing was signed by Romney.Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds "voting and dispositive power" with respect to the stock owned by Bain. If Romney had fully retired from the private equity firm he founded, why would he be the only Bain executive named as the person in control of this large amount of Stericycle stock?
</i> </blockquote>

Highlights were inserted by me.

Again, there is a vast difference between a person who holds an investment run by a third party management firm, and a man who "in his capacity as sole shareholder....holds voting and dispositive power" made investments in a company contracted with Planned Parenthood. If you can't see the difference, we can not have any further discussion.

As to my vote, I wrote in a man for President and one for Vice-President. Let me think about whether to tell who they were, but for now, know that they hold a Biblical Worldview and believe we must follow the Laws of Nature and Nature's God.

As for fellowship, there are men on our deacon board who I disagree with about numerous issues.  Public education is one example. I do not consider sending ones children to a government indoctrination system, whose stated religion is secular humanism, the actions of someone who is separated from the world. But, since I tend to be something of a Christian "libertarian", (notice I am a Christian first, and a small l, libertarian) I believe those men are accountable before God for their actions. As long as they are not forcing me or anyone in the local body of believers to do what they are doing, and allow me to follow the dictates of my conscience in how I raise my family, I will bite my tongue, and keep peace with my fellow believers. They and I will one day answer for how we lived our life. I am perfectly content to live mine the way I see fit, and let them do likewise, as long as they do not directly violate a clear Biblical principle.

The same applies to voting. If asked I clearly and honestly gave my reasons why my conscience will not allow me to vote for Willard. At the same time, they are free to do what their conscience leads them to do.

One thing I would add though, someone is wrong in both of those scenarios. Either voting for Willard was something of which God approves or it is not, I do not believe there is middle ground on the issue. Same way with secular humanist education. Either it is good or it is not, I see no ambiguity in either situation.

But then, I'm a black and white type guy.

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Ok Tom, I have to ask. Were you cracking a joke with the use of "jest," or did you mean gist? Either way it's kinda funny, but I do like to know what I'm laughing about.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

farmer Tom N's picture

Laugh at me. In my hurry I put the wrong term.

I really need to proofread what I attempt to write. Sad