What role should faith play in American politics? How compatible is orthodox religion with the practical functioning of democracy?
Those questions are posed by leaders of the religious right, who are threatening to jump ship if the Republicans nominate Rudy Giuliani. Even the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the White House can’t convince them to support a candidate who backs abortion, lived with a gay couple and married three times.
“It’s not about winning elections,” Texas preacher Rick Scarborough told The New York Times. “It’s about honoring Christ.” James Dobson, the influential radio host, adds: “Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles.”
The religious right has won a seat at the table of power, fair and square. The issue now is how they’ve used that power. There’s nothing wrong with “honoring Christ”; there is something very wrong when one faction believes it is on a mission from God; that it has a monopoly on moral truth.
Dobson might scorn “compromise,” but that’s what politics is all about. Compromise is not a swear word, it’s an absolute necessity. This is a very large and diverse country, and the only way it can be governed effectively is through accommodation, flexibility and tolerance.