Welcome to the Culture of Life?
Sandlin is a one-time acolyte of Christian Reconstructionist theologian R. J. Rushdoony and edited Chalcedon magazine before founding the Center for Cultural Leadership. The mission of CCL is to make Christianity “relevant” and create “a new kind of Christian.”
In his essay, Sandlin notes the growing influence of Christians in the public square, “A fact surrounding the Terri Schiavo imbroglio that has escaped much notice is the influence Christians (as Christians) have wielded. That the President, Congress, a state governor and prominent parts of a ubiquitous media would have worked so vocally and diligently to spare Terri’s life would have been unthinkable 25-30 years ago — with Richard Nixon, Carl Albert, Tip O’Neill, and Walter Cronkite at the political and media helm.”
Furthermore, though Christians were far from united on the Shiavo issue Sandlin helpfully explains, “it was largely the Christian contingent in Congress that catapulted it to the forefront and hastily passed a bill requiring a new judicial look at Terri’s case — and make no mistake, there are plenty of devout Christians in Congress, starting with Dennis Hastert and Tom DeLay. Senate majority leader Bill Frist is a committed follower of our Lord, too. Both the President and his brother Jeb submit to Jesus as Lord. Fred Barnes and Sean Hannity of Fox News are devout Christians; and Bill O’Reilly, who is much less devout and often rather spiritually confused, nonetheless gives vocal support to Jesus as His Savior. This is not a nation without Christians in culturally influential positions — or who do not take their faith seriously. After the culture wars of the last 20 years, the country has been repositioned to press Christianity and Christian issues in the public square. Christians, under the power of the Holy Spirit, have seen to that.”
I suppose it is plausible that the Schiavo case will finally spur Evangelicals to keep Republican feet to the fire on issues of life and judicial activism, but I have my doubts. Let’s face facts for just a moment. Florida has a Republican governor and legislature. Both the executive and legislative branches in DC are controlled by the GOP last time I checked. Moreover, come 2008, the GOP will have controlled the White House for 28 of the last 40 years. During that time, REPUBLICAN presidents have nominated all but two Supreme Court justices. Has the GOP effectively pressed “Christianity and Christian issues in the public square?”
Sandlin seems to think so. In his endorsement of George Bush, here is what Sandlin wrote:
Bush has alienated the last vestiges the old Eastern Republican establishment (the Rockefeller variety) and has justifiably become the champion of Evangelical Christians. This is not surprising.
He has been an unflagging champion of the pro-life position, and he eagerly signed Congress’ legislation banning partial-birth abortion (Clinton had twice vetoed it).
Despite pressure even from some conservatives, Bush has opposed stem-cell research.
As the San Francisco mayor trumpeted same-sex marriages in that city and as Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, Bush urged a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman — that is, the Biblical definition.
Bush has implemented “faith-based” initiatives, allowing churches and other religious groups access to state funding for specific ministries beneficial to society (like drug rehabilitation).
Bush responded quickly and aggressively to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and has made the defense and security of the United States a priority of his administration. All of these actions endeared him to many conservative Christians, the vast majority of whom support him.
Forget for a moment the slew of inaccuracies in the above paragraphs. Of greater concern are the strategic implications Sandlin draws.
Sandlin is concerned that Christians who have abandoned the GOP are acting like children, looking for the instant gratification of political victory before doing the hard work of cultural reclamation. God has placed each of us in a particular place and time, Sandlin says, and we must operate within the parameters of His providence. Sandlin writes that we should work faithfully with the historical options God has granted us because, "He has not placed us in a historical situation that permits us to vote for the ideal candidate (and perhaps He never will). So, God expects us to vote responsibly and thoughtfully for the electable candidate that most accurately reflects Christian conviction."
In other words, vote GOP or deny God's providential working in history!