David Kuo Talks Faith and Politics

By Justin Gardner | Related entries in General Politics, Religion

The former, faith-based aide speaks out about what the evangelicals mean to the political landscape.

From the NY Times:

Yes, it is true that almost 30 percent of white evangelicals voted for the Democrats, up from the 22 percent Senator John Kerry received in the 2004 presidential race. But that 2004 number was aberrantly low. More typical were exit polls from the 1996 Congressional election, where 25 percent of white evangelicals voted for Democrats.

So before rearranging their public policy agenda in hopes of attracting evangelicals, the Democrats would be wise to think twice. There has been a radical change in the attitudes of evangelicals � it’s just not one that will automatically be in the Democrats’ favor.

You see, evangelicals aren’t re-examining their political priorities nearly as much as they are re-examining their spiritual priorities. That could be bad news for both political parties.

What are those spiritual priorities? Read the whole thing.


This entry was posted on Sunday, November 19th, 2006 and is filed under General Politics, Religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

17 Responses to “David Kuo Talks Faith and Politics”

  1. Bob J Young Says:

    “Every one of these obituaries has been premature � after these losses, the religious right only grew stronger. “

    I live in the deep south, and this is a very accurate assessment of the evangelical movement. It ‘s not that dissimilar to the logic used for testing someone for witchcraft. If she drowns she was innocent, if she lives she gets burned at the stake.

    In the case of the religious right, if they win it was because god approves of what they are doing. If they loose, it was the work of Satan and they need to go to war an defeat Satan. An when they speak of Satan and demons, they are not talking about vague forces of evil. They actually believe there are real demons constantly moving among us, causing illness’s both mental and physical, and whispering in our ear to lure us from the path of righteousness.

    Never underestimate the power of a superstitious mob.

    Interestingly enough the most destructive force against the religious right, is the religious right. Each individual member is so convinced that god is speaking him personally, that they start to disrespect each other. The church self destructs. I have some friends who belong to a southern baptist church undergoing just such a spasm. They have divided themselves into charismatic and true southern baptists, and have successfully caused so much hatred that the church is convulsing with anger and resentment. It is fascinating watching people who claim to be walking in Christ’s footsteps have a cat fight.

  2. DosPeros Says:

    Never underestimate the power of a superstitious mob.

    Everyone, meet Bob, the type of person who guarantees the political success of traditional religious people over asswipe secular progressives. Keep it up, Bob, the more people like you talk, the more success the Evangelicals will have.

  3. Rick Says:

    DosPeros:

    “Asswipe secular progressives.” Gee, tell us how you really feel. It seems you’ve lost your composure.

    Rick

  4. BenG Says:

    Mr. Young; Thanks for your comments, good job. I always apprecate ‘on the ground’ opinions from people with real life observations. Unlike Mr. Peros who’s bark is bigger than his bite, esp when he says stupid, ignorant, nonsense. It’s just a scare tactics, don’t pay it no mind.
    First of all, to call evangelicals “traditional religious people” is truely ignorant. I was raised Roman Catholic from 1st generation Italian immigrants, who regularly quoted the Bible in Latin when they were upset. Now, we have Babtist friends, and they are good people. Even they wouldn’t describe themselves as ‘traditional’. And ‘success’ for them has nothing to do with politics, esp. the extreme, intensely arrogant type that some would impose on us all.
    God bless the U.S. –voters and citizens, secular and devout.

  5. Rick Says:

    BenG:

    Doesn’t Bill O’Reilly have a simple minded book out called “Culture Warrior?” It describes 2 kinds of people. The good guys who are “traditionalists” like Dos Peros and the evil guys as “secular progressive” like Bob J. Young. In this regard, Dos Peros sounds like Bill O”Reilly. If we here Dos Peros write “SHUT UP” in bold we ‘ll know who he’s channelling.

    In defense of Mr Young, we don’t really know whether he is religious or not, however, from my own an extensive study of the Bible ( I am religious) it seems Mr. Young summed up pretty well the belief system that was prevalent in Biblical times. It wouldn’t supprise me to hear that many Christian’s who belives in the inerrancy of the Bible might interpret reality at least in part through that antiquated lens.

    To quote one of my favorite progressives, Jesus says, that everyone is welcome at my father’s table. He must have ment everyone except ‘asswipe secular progressives” and of course gays, liberals, democrats etc.. Tribalsim is the fundamentalist’s milk and honey. They can’t see it any other way. It makes them feel so sure and pure.

    Rick

  6. DosPeros Says:

    Mr. Young made it clear what he thinks of “traditional” Christian belief….superstition.

  7. Lewis Says:

    I don’t think evangelicals are re-examining their spiritual priorities as these are pretty much set in concrete. I think maybe it’s more accurate to say they’re re-examining the positions of both political parties in relation to those spiritual priorities.

    For me, and I think for many voters, the party affiliation is a distant second to the character of the person running for office. However, if the political party loudly supports abortion on demand, or removing God from everything, or belittles Christian spirituality — that will have a chilling impact, at least on this Christian voter.

  8. Jim S Says:

    What Lewis says is of course not what many conservative Republican Christians want. They don’t simply disapprove of abortion on demand, as South Dakota proves they are (In many cases.) interested in banning it completely. Many also want to return to the days of many if not all contraceptives being banned. They don’t want sex ed for anyone and if it must exist it should only teach what they want taught. They do not simply want to avoid God being removed from everything, they want their version of Him everywhere they are. They don’t particularly care if others find it offensive to be forced to sit through the prayers of a religion not their own or wonder if there can be justice for the different in a courtroom that displays its preference for Christianity.

    Please note that I am not saying this applies to all Christians (One of the favorite ploys of the group I am discussing is to claim that criticizing their less appealing traits is a criticism of all Christianity.) or even all conservative Christians. But I do feel it accurately portrays the most active , most conservative Christians pushing the Republican party far to the Christian right.

  9. Meredith Says:

    Just because I don’t want Christianity to become the official religion of the US does not make me a secular “asswipe.” The fact that I’m Agnostic might make me that, but that’s not the point.

    You see, the one main feature of this country is that we hold majorities at bay a little so that the minorities do not lose all their rights and freedoms. I’m sure Christians haven’t forgotten what it was like to be in the minority, back when they were fed to lions and stuff. In this country, we want everyone to feel comfortable about being whatever religion they want to be. So, it wouldn’t be fair to have Jesus and Christianity plastered all over everything. We don’t want to be “that country” that has a constitution and bill of rights that is mostly form over substance because we don’t really follow our own rules, but we complain about other people breaking them. Oh, wait . . . .

    Dos – Thinking that there are demons walking among us that are going to bite us or make us do bad things IS superstitious.

  10. Lewis Says:

    Christians are simply doing what every other “identity group” is doing – pushing their values and beliefs. All sides have a tendency to paint the others in the worst possible light. That’s simplistic thinking – I look better by default when I make the others look worse. We should be discussing ideas, not tearing the other side a new one at every possible opportunity.

    I spent most of my life in the secular crowd. Before I “got saved”, I had similar feelings about Christians as expressed so eloquently in the comments above. I guess I sort of felt superior to those who believed in “superstitions”. Of course, I didn’t really have any close Christian friends and you’d never find me in a church, EVER!

    After my “big event”, I got to know many Christians and what they stood for and believed. That was a difficult thing for me as I had to admit to myself how wrong I was about these strange people. I realized how prejudiced I had been, simply because of my ignorance.

    Most all of the new Christian friends I’ve made have been great people – kind, generous, responsible and loving, but far from perfect – just like most of my secular friends. We are more the same than different. Much common ground to work with, but respect has to be given first before we can get anywhere.

  11. sleipner Says:

    I went in the opposite direction from you, Lewis. I grew up in a Lutheran Missouri Synod household (the most conservative branch of the Lutherans). When I was about 14 years old, I read the entire bible, and realized that it was anachronistic mythology (though I already had doubts before then). At the same time, I started to learn more about science, which answers real questions about the universe and life, and actually provides EVIDENCE, imagine that, of their findings. Rather than some guy 2000 years ago causing a bunch of fish to show up from nowhere (supposedly). Also, I started reading about other religions, all of which made the same claims about being the “one truth” and that all followers of all other religions should be destroyed. Also, frankly, by today’s standards, Jesus’s magical miracles are definitely sub-par, though I suppose technological improvements make that inevitable.

    My parents, forced me to continue attending church, sunday school, and youth group until I was 18, even though I didn’t believe a word of it. They even forced me to do the Lutheran “confirmation” event, even though I told them I didn’t believe in it and didn’t want to…mostly because my refusal would have made them look bad as parents within the church. So basically they forced me to lie (a sin) so they wouldn’t look bad to the other fellow gullible religious nuts.

    I suppose religion can be a good influence in many peoples’ lives, in that it gives them an exterior motivation to practice “good works”, but from what I’ve seen, it usually just provides people with the hubris to assume they’re better than everyone outside of their own flavor of religion, and makes them believe they have the right to force their own moral decisions onto everyone else, irrespective of whether or not they share the same religion.

  12. Jim S Says:

    Politically active conservative Christians always claim to be the ones being oppressed and disrespected. But the truth of it is that no one who wants to force other people to live by their rules even if they don’t share their beliefs can claim to have any respect for them. The nature of most religion is to not respect those who aren’t part of your sect and to respect unbelievers the least. It’s why their power in government needs to be limited.

  13. Lewis Says:

    Man do I sense hostility. Whew.

    Jim and Sleipner just made my point – paint them all the same in the most ugly of colors. A simpleton non-debate. A string of negative comments – that’s supposed to convince me or anyone else that your brand of secular religious values are superior to Christian ones?

    I challenge you instead to place ideas on the table, stuff that demonstrates clearly, in a big picture way, why secular values are better than Christian values.

    Actually, what are secular values? Are they just the opposite of everything Christian? Is there any overlap? Are they just relative, subject to changes on a whim? On who’s whim? What’s the anchor?

  14. Jim S Says:

    My comments are not aimed at all Christians. This is the great flaw of politically conservative Christians. Criticize them and they act like you are criticizing all of Christianity. There is actually no such thing as Christianity once you get past faith in God and belief in Christ as Savior. As soon as you’re past those points you split out into many different churches and belief systems. They have different views on interpreting the Bible as well as other facets of how to live their faith. Not all Christians are Biblical literalists. Not all Christians believe that opposition to abortion is more important morally than helping the poor. I am not trying to convince anyone that my values are superior to someone else’s, I’m just arguing that not all values held by a certain segment of Christianity should be enshrined in the law of the land.

  15. Lewis Says:

    Ok, what values of which religious group (that includes the secular religious group which has become a defacto religion with all the rules and regulations) should be enshrined into law? That was my challenge – pick some and defend your choice.

    This is the essence of the culture war/debate currently raging in America. Right now it’s mostly a simpleton debate. Every side trying to look better, not via strong and logical arguments, but rather by trying to paint the other side ugly.

    You’re comments are typical for what passes for “debate” about Christian values. This gets us nowhere.

    There are many very wonderful Christian values that can (and have, like here in the US) form the foundation of a stable and vibrant society. There is an anchor for these values – the Bible. Secularism in the US doesn’t really have an anchor other than maybe the Supreme Court. But that’s not really an anchor because they are politically selected and subject to the whims of a very few people with suspect agendas.

    It’s my opinion that modern secularism and it’s values are based on popular culture from the 1960′s and 70′s. In many ways, we’re still stuck in that time. Some of that culture was positive, like environmentalism and racial equality. Some of it was self destructive, like sex, drugs and rock and roll.

    And just like Christianity, once it got established, a small handful of people became the “Mullahs”, telling everyone else which behavior was acceptable or not for proper secularists. Of course, that behavior is not necessarily required for the “Mullahs”. Just look at Gore, jet-setting around the country, driving a SUV and complaining loudly about all that CO2 emission causing global warming.

    The negative part of the 60′s culture is what Christians are fighting against. Now I just love that good old rock and roll music, but the cultural baggage that era brought with it is very destructive to a stable society, especially for young people. I’ve seen so many lives destroyed, it’s just awful. And it keeps getting worse. How does secularism deal with that reality?

    So I start the debate with the argument that secularism is a religion with it’s high priests, 12 apostles and God (a non-God). It claims to be the only truth through science (which I equate to the “Word” in Christianity). It generates it’s own fairy tales, which it claims must be true because of science which is the “Word” and therefore cannot be fallible.

    I could go on but….Sounds remarkably like Christianity doesn’t it. So I’ve attempted to level the playing field. Now we’re talking about two different religions. Which one, if either, has the best ideas for our society?

  16. Jim S Says:

    For the last time I do not make any claims about the Christian belief system because I don’t insult people by painting them with one big brush that says that all Christians believe the exact same things. You, however insist on producing many paragraphs of raging BS that attempts to define an entire attitude towards society as a religion when it clearly is not.

    An honest debate cannot take place when based on falsehoods. Since your entire post consists of painting “secularlists” as one solid block of “believers” in a religion that doesn’t exist there is no debate about two different religions. There is no debate over which has better ideas for our society. Secularism simply says that everyone has the right to a government that does not simply refuse to establish a state religion but does not take actions or reveal through its speech an overt prejudice in favor of one religion. That the government should not have laws that are based primarily on some specific beliefs of one sect or group of sects of one religion among many even if it is the majority religion.

  17. sleipner Says:

    The attempt to label secularism as a religion is a common tactic of religious people who feel threatened by facts and logic. By trying to make science seem to be a religion, then it is as easily debunked as religions are – which have no proof or logic behind any of their wild and crazy claims.

    Whether or not Christian values are “good for society,” the thing that us liberal types object to is having someone else’s values shoved down our throats. And lest you object that we’re trying to shove our values down your throat, we’re not. You’re perfectly free to not gay marry, and also perfectly free to not have an abortion. On the opposite side of that, you’re trying to tell EVERYONE else that they canNOT do those things.

    I also have a huge problem in that most religions these days seem to be far more worried about gay marriage and abortion, which are only peripherally mentioned in the bible, and not concerned at all about the issues that are central, such as care for the poor and sick, and love for all humankind.

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