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View Diary: Why the "morals vote" didn't cost us the election. (281 comments)

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  •  some thoughts (none)
    My own feelings on this, as a former evangelical, is that a lot of the talk of reaching out to "red state"/Christian right types by using language or by claiming values will be mostly ineffective.

    The reason is that I believe that many Christians have reached a point of cognitive dissonance between the relevance of their faith personally and the relevance that it bears with the world at large.  As mainstream culture has increasingly marginalized Christian faith over the last 100-150 years, Evangelical Christians have rationalized that this is not because God is not working or active in the world or weak or nonexistent but because the world has turned its back on God and therefore must bear the consequences of that.  This idea has come in many different forms, some borne out more systematically (Rushdooney) than others (The vast majority who reject Rushdoonian theocracry).  But the result is a commitment to a set of principles that guides their socio-economic views (America needs to teach creationism, America cannot accept 'godlessness' or homosexuality or vulgar media - these are a further 'rejection' of God).  That is why no amount of language or championing issues of justice will allow democrats to own 'moral values'. The commitment between evangelical's personal faith and the republican agenda has been established and internalized.

    Some of these strategies may be effective in turning the votes for those whose commitment to the connection between faith and social/political conservatism is not as strong.  And that may even be enough to win elections. But for the bulk of Christian conservatives these strategies will not change their vote or outlook.  

    Part of the problem is that evangelical Christians rarely engage with non-evangelicals except peripherally.  Each culture has their own books, radio, websites and communities.  And when they do non-evangelicals can become argumentative, defensive and combative -these types of emotional responses only further their perception that non-evangelicals have an 'emptiness' in our lives from our 'rejection' of God.  Furthermore, many non-evangelicals often don't know why they are not evangelicals - we sometimes give misinformed, illogical or outright incorrect arguments against evangelical positions on creation or the inerrancy of scripture even though better arguments are available.  

    To reach this segment of committed evangelicals, I advocate 'reverse witnessing'.  When an evangelical witnesses - don't slam the door - invite them in, but only after you have educated yourself on the issues that are of concern to them (evolution, the role and interpretation of scripture, their theology of faith and morality, etc.).  Show them that your life is not empty, and that you, like them, are concerned about legitimate injustices.  Don't argue but explain your positions thoughtfully, respectfully.  After all, if the facts are on our side, the facts are on our side - there is no need to get impatient. Build relationships at work or in your neighborhood, and through your actions and the way that you live and interact with others, show them that you love this country and want to do good.  Obama can give X number of speeches, but until they see it on a personal level, they will not be open to believing it.

    •  What strikes me is that (none)
      many evangelicals have rejected modernity because they belong to that segment of the US people who were taught in school and society that they were not quite good enough, that they were stupid, rubes. This is a fundamental injury which makes its victims ripe for accepting comforting certainties which protect them from being subjected again to "elitist" ridicule -- what most of us here would consider simply reality-based thinking.

      Insofar as this is true, what you call "reverse witnessing" is essential -- demonstrating that we can respect the persons of fundamentalists at the same time we reject their beliefs, worldview.

      Kind of a love the sinner, hate the sin approach. /smile.

      America is a broken promise, and we are called to do what we can to fix it. -- Bill Moyers

      by janinsanfran on Fri Nov 05, 2004 at 06:31:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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