The evangelicals’ fall

While I have not followed James Dobson closely over the years, whenever I have listened to his program he impressed me as an intelligent and serious man. His statements to his followers in support of Harriet Miers are an embarrassment. For him to say (this is a close paraphrase), “Rove told me she’s an evangelical Christian, she’s one of us, so we can count on her,” shows a degradation of political understanding to the point of idiocy. Does Dobson really believe that if a judge is an evangelical Christian, that fact will (or should) make her reach the right decision in determining the meaning of the U.S. Constitution? Dobson’s attitude also makes him seem indistinguishable from the most vulgar proponents of identity politics.

And it’s not just Dobson who has this view. A reporter from NPR appearing on Washington Week in Review Friday evening said that many evangelical Christians she had spoken with were supportive of Miers. The attitude among them, she said, was, “She’s a born again, she’s been through the same life experiences we’ve been through, we can relate to her.” Once again, what does any of this have to do with being a good judge? How will it help Miers understand and stick to the original meaning of the Constitution when her colleagues want to legislate from the bench?

Supporting a candidate for executive or legislative office because he comes from a similar background to oneself and has a similar perspective is normal and understandable, since office holders represent the people who elect them. But Miers is not a candidate for executive or legislative office. That her supporters are acting as though she were is but further proof that they, like the left, have no conception of the distinct role of the federal judiciary in our system; they, too, want judges to legislate.

I’ve been told that much of evangelical Christianity today is based on personalist emotion, rather than on a belief in objective truth. The evangelicals’ support for Miers would seem to reflect that.

(Here is the transcript of Dobson’s gaseous explanation of why he couldn’t tell the world about Karl Rove’s mundane revelation to him that Harriet Miers is an evangelical Christian.)

A reader comments:

Evangelical leaders such as Dobson and Falwell sold out years ago. They became “beltway evangelicals.” The fawning accolades they award George W. Bush are simply disgusting. Because Bush tosses them a treat occasionally and gives them an audience from time to time they falsely believe they are insiders. But they’ve just been taken for a ride. And worse, they’ve taken their own followers for a ride.

White evangelicals comprise 26% of the electorate. That’s more than Blacks, Hispanics, the gay rights movement, the Hollywood Left, or any other liberal interest group. But due to poor leadership, white evangelicals are treated with disdain by both parties. Democrats openly despise them, Republicans deceive them into thinking they are on their side.

There is still plenty of good work being done by grassroots evangelicals, and there are leaders such as Chuck Baldwin who have not fallen for Bush. However, the evangelical leaders with most of the publicity are Bush lackeys. Sad but true.

Carl Simpson writes:

I’ve followed Dobson for quite some time. While he was certainly better than Falwell about shilling for Republicans in the past, I’ve become increasingly disgusted with his blind faith in this president. So now we’re to believe that Miers is going to be a great judge simply because she attends an evangelical church.

It’s a pity that Dobson and other evangelicals marching over the cliff failed to remember some previous public officials who attended evangelical churches and made comments about being “born again”: Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and the great stainmaker himself: Bill Clinton. That’s a real traditional values trio! Do they think that a little “R” following a politician’s name is a sign that the professed believer is “real”?

Your reader’s comments about the political naďveté are very much on the mark. While Dobson really didn’t sell out until Bush came on the scene, he’s really drunk the Kool Aid now.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 15, 2005 02:01 AM | Send

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