A prominent evangelical leader has criticized the Moral Majority, asserting that the Jerry Falwell-led political group was haughty and judgmental.
Speaking at a conference at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., Robert Wenz, vice president of national ministries for the National Association of Evangelicals, said the Moral Majority was “an aberration and a regrettable one at that.” He added that the group was “fatally flawed by a hubris that made the movement condescending and more than a bit judgmental.”
According to the Boston Globe, Wenz said, “The Moral Majority lacked a servant heart of Christ born out of humility and compassion for a fallen humanity. Instead, it was all about making America a nice place for Christians to live. This is not the kind of social involvement that we need or that evangelicals espouse.”
Wenz criticized the close ties between many evangelical Christians and the Republican Party and challenged his co-religionists to get more involved in issues like the environment and civil rights.
The National Association of Evangelicals has traditionally been more moderate than Religious Right organizations like the Christian Coalition. Still, it has often sided against church-state separation in legal briefs at the Supreme Court.
In other news about the Religious Right:
• Conservative Christians in Kansas are eager to implement a wide-ranging social-issues agenda that includes a ban on same-sex marriage, attacks on evolution instruction in the public schools and new curbs on abortion.
During the election season, fundamentalists in Kansas organized and put enough pressure on the legislature to put same-sex marriage before the voters this April. Conservative clergy led a crusade on the issue after legislators refused to approve the ballot measure last year.
“A thousand Kansas pastors realize we can now multiply ourselves and get things done,” the Rev. Jerry Johnston, senior pastor at the First Family Church in Overland Park, told the Associated Press. “It’s a new day for evangelicals.”
Religious conservatives also helped elect an anti-evolution majority to the state school board and hope to roll back teaching about evolution.
Pat Bullock, missions director for the Heart of Kansas Southern Baptist Association, agreed. “Same-sex marriage, abortion are symptoms of the cause of rejecting a Supreme Being, taught through evolution,” Bullock said.
• The Christian Coalition of Pinellas County, Fla., is surveying local candidates on issue like same-sex marriage, abortion and stem-cell research – even though local government has little or no say over those matters.
Three of five candidates running for local seats in the county refused to respond to the survey.
“They were questions that didn’t pertain to anything I was doing in Largo,” candidate Gigi Arntzen told the St. Petersburg Times.
Another hopeful, Rodney Woods, agreed, remarking that the issues selected were “out of the jurisdiction” of the issues he would face as a county commissioner.
The local CC unit also announced it would hold a candidates’ forum, but only three of the five candidates said they would attend.
• A Religious Right activist tapped by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to run the state’s Department of Children and Families has resigned in the wake of a financial scandal.
Jerry Regier stepped down after it came to light that he had given more than $4 million in no-bid contracts to companies owned by another former state official and that he had accepted personal gifts and travel.
Regier’s two-year tenure was marked with controversy. When Bush tapped him to run the department, critics complained that Regier was unfit, citing extreme comments he had made about women’s rights and child rearing.
• Former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed may be gearing up for his first try for public office. The Washington Times reported Jan. 18 that Reed, 43, plans to runs for lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006, with the aim of moving into the governor’s slot and eventually the White House.
The current lieutenant governor, Democrat Mark Taylor, plans to challenge Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2006. If Perdue is re-elected and Reed wins, it would pave the way for him to run for governor in 2010, when Perdue must leave office due to term limits.
“That’s why Ralph has to make the move now, otherwise, he could be 64 years old and still waiting for the right opening,” an anonymous state GOP activist and Reed associate told The Times. “Some political operatives are content to be the political teachers, to show people how to run their campaigns. Others, like Reed, have been there and done that. They itch to be the candidate, to hold the office.”