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America’s Choice: Conservative

Posted March. 07, 2005 22:38,   


An unmediated sermon took place aboard the American presidential jet Air Force One on March 24, 2002. Then National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice (currently Secretary of State), daughter of a Presbyterian minister, presided over the ceremony, while counselor to the president, Karen Hughes, read from a bible. Attended by about 40 people, the sermon ended with hymn 405: Amazing Grace.

This anecdote is representative of the pervasiveness of the Christian faith in the heart of American politics, from the White House to the rest of American society.

The political influence of evangelicalism-

Last year’s presidential election confirmed that religion plays an important role in influencing the outcome of American politics.

It is especially to be noted that the evangelists’ support for President George W. Bush, which amounted to an overwhelming 21 to 26 percent of the total population, was a defining influence in cinching the deal.

A little over a half of Christians-59 percent-rooted for President Bush, but an astounding 78 percent of hard-core evangelists expressed their all-out support for Bush. Among the four to five million new Republican registrants last year, most were said to be evangelists.

The political influence of evangelism is spreading, thanks to the efforts of a few leaders in setting the American path towards Christian conservatism, and integrating the religion into real politics.

Church and state-

In the beginning of last year, the New York Times reported the contents of a private conversation held by 14 conservative church leaders near Washington in the summer of 2003.

In the meeting, led by Reverend Donald Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association Inc., the issue of prohibiting same sex marriages was discussed.

It was around the time the court of the state of Massachusetts, the electoral region that produced Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, ruled that “limiting the rights of same sex couples is against the state constitution,” a decision that was backed by Kerry. The Christian community responded immediately by providing the logic that “Senator Kerry was a destroyer of the notion of family,” creating a mass Christian protest in the process.

The United States calls for a separation of state and religion in its second amendment. But the crossbreeding of the two is steadily in process.

The history of Christian conservatism-

America’s Christianity did not always possess a conservative tone. In the sixties and seventies, liberal Christianity played an important role in the elections through a strong nationwide network.

Prime examples of devout southern Democratic candidates that have benefited from this influence include Lyndon Johnson (Texas) and Jimmy Carter (Georgia).

In his 2004 book “Made in USA,” French critic Guy Sorman wrote that “the lawlessness and wild attire that symbolize the liberal hippie culture during the sixties brought about an ensuing collectivization of conservative Christians.”

The spread of liberal thinking, as can be seen in the politically correct version of saying “Merry Christmas,” (altered to “Happy Holidays”), also called for a union with the conservative Christian sector. Fueling the move was the 1973 ruling by the Supreme Court legalizing abortion.

Societies such as the Christian Association evolved out of this environment. The association calls for people to return to family values.

Lee Edwards from the Heritage Foundation stated that “Direct mail delivered door-to-door contributed enormously to the spread of Christian conservatism.”

Political confidence of evangelism-

Encouraged by the re-election of President Bush, voices now call for an emphasis on a Christian lifestyle.

The debate over the political correctness of the greeting “Merry Christmas” last year highlighted this move. The “Merry Christmas Commission” targeted department stores possessing nationwide chains, requesting that “Christmas (be) reinstated in household interior design.”

Along with discussions of whether or not to continue the issue of evolution, the Christian sector also calls for the teaching of the theory of intelligent design in public schools. Intelligent design is a theory stating that the complex evolutionary mechanisms of life forms would not have proceeded without the design of a higher supernatural power.

Though refraining from quoting directly from the bible, and resorting instead to the natural sciences to prove their point, the goals of the evangelists are nonetheless evident.

This type of evangelistic confidence has resulted in mounting social conflict.

Several education centers in New Jersey prohibited schools from teaching Christmas carols, while in Kansas, Christmas trees were renamed to community trees.

Nervous Democrats-

Democrats are concerned that the spread of Christian conservatism may reduce their opportunity to come back to power. Participants of the Black Association Assembly, held at Letonia, Georgia on February 26 criticized this trend, stating that “the conservative faction selects topics that create an unnecessary amount of sensation, and uses the opportunity to strengthen their own opinions.”

Reverend Jesse Jackson spoke out, saying, “There are forces that bring the issue of same-sex marriages to the table, which is something I haven’t observed in my neighbors,” but it seems as if his voice is lost in the sea of the ensuing religious sensation created by conservative Christian society.

Soon-Taek Kwon Seung-Ryun Kim maypole@donga.com srkim@donga.com