The Plain Truth About the So-Called CHRISTIAN RIGHT
Groups like the Moral Majority and Christian Voice played a big role in last year's U.S. elections. The rise of this "Christian Right" has caused a near-hysterical reaction in some quarters — critics warn of "goose stepping," and "moral fascism." What is the real meaning behind the increasing involvement of fundamentalist and evangelical religious groups in this world's politics?
NEW PRESIDENT and Congress have just been installed in Washington. Another of this world's governments has changed hands. But there was something dramatically different about the 1980 election. Fundamentalist and evangelical groups got heavily involved — contributing money, time and effort to specific candidates. In at least two races in Bible-belt states, challengers backed by these groups upset entrenched incumbents whom almost no one thought could possibly lose. The movement — dubbed the Christian Right by those who aren't particularly fond of it — is centered around three activist groups: Christian Voice, Religious Round Table, and television evangelist Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. They are essentially rough alliances of ministers and individuals from various churches, even including Jews and Catholics. They claim to represent somewhere between 40 and 60 million voters. An article in The Wall Street Journal summed up their "party platform:" "The newly politically active Christians stand for propositions that are the reverse of those inherited from the '60s, now Democratic Party doctrine. These propositions are, first, that there are moral differences in the ways people lead their lives, some right and others wrong; and, second, that American values are superior to those of nations whose values differ, notably the totalitarian regimes and religious dictatorships. In particular the Christian activists are against abortion, against the ERA, for school prayer, for the traditional family, for capital punishment, for a balanced budget, for military superiority over the Soviet Union." Accordingly, the Christian Right supported politicians who supported these positions. For example, they supported Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter. Of course, four years earlier, Mr. Carter had gained a great deal of political mileage by publicly "professing Christ." While in office, on the other hand, he promoted feminist causes, opposed legal steps to curb abortion and established the White House Conference on Families — deliberately called "families" and not "the family" so as to include communes and homosexual relationships. And when candidate Reagan caused anguished screams in the press by actually posing a question about evolution — Mr. Carter issued a statement that he believes in evolution and God. After the electoral landslide, first lady Rosalynn Carter said she felt no bitterness toward the voters — but she was bothered by the Moral Majority. Mr. Carter probably did not lose the election simply because the Moral Majority was against him. But the Moral Majority no doubt helped Mr. Reagan's landslide by having many evangelical Christians register to vote — 45 percent of such people usually don't vote. At the outset, we must emphasize — although The Plain Truth and the Worldwide Church of God believe in a strong traditional family life, indeed, the restoration of proper family life is one of the directives that God has given his Church' in these last days (Malachi 4:6) — WE ARE NOT PART OF THE MORAL MAJORITY OR OF ANY LIKE OR UNLIKE GROUPS. We take no part in this world's politics! Churches that are a part of this world may take part in this world's politics. God's true Church must remain "unspotted" by political involvement. But the true significance of the Christian Right is not political: it is prophetic!
Real Meaning Behind Christian Right
All the hullabaloo about the Christian Right springs from varying points of man's perspective. What is God's perspective — as revealed in his Word? Everyone has overlooked a key prophecy for our day and age, which lends understanding to what the Christian Right is all about. How many political scientists, for example, understand this vital prophecy: "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths" (Isaiah 3:12). This prophecy reveals that God's pattern of family life will come under severe attack in these last days! Now listen to Ms Gloria Steinem, the feminist "spokesperson" who, along with Eleanor Smeal, head of the National Organization of Women, an ultrafeminist group, denounced President Reagan during the campaign: "The ultra-right-wing, using the smiling facade of Mr. Reagan, is trying to restore the authoritarian family," said Ms Steinem, in founding Women Against the Republican Nominee, a campaign group that urged women to vote for President Carter because of his support of the Equal Rights Amendment. Authoritarian is a feminist code word. Ms Steinem is not referring to drunken wife-beaters. She is referring to families in which the father's position as head of the house is respected. This is too authoritarian for her! But notice! She used the word restore. So Gloria Steinem acknowledges what God's prophets reveal — family patterns have broken down and therefore are in need of restoration! The overlooked significance of the so-called Christian Right is that things have gotten so bad that the churches of this world, which at least profess to take the Bible seriously, have been forced to political action! In Alaska, before the presidential primaries, the members of the Moral Majority swamped GOP district meetings to elect their own delegates to the state Republican
...the true significance of the Christian Right is not political: it is prophetic!
convention. At the convention, they passed a number of resolutions, directly contrary to the general antifamily drift in the country: against abortion, drafting women, and the White House Conference on Families (because it was stacked against traditional families), and in favor of the parental right to discipline children. They also issued the most remarkable statement for a "political" party: "Our country is rapidly turning into a 20th-century Sodom and Gomorrah." The statement is a dramatic confirmation of a prophecy found in Jeremiah: "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah" (Jeremiah 23:14). (Jerusalem, as capital of ancient Judah, often represents latter-day descendants of the ancient house of Israel and Judah) It is a fact that many politicians who earned the wrath of the Moral Majority have done their bit to promote values fundamentally at odds to the family as God ordained it. For example, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now split into two departments) has, for the last several years, pushed regulations against school dress codes that "enforce sexual stereotyping." That is, against asking boys to dress as boys and girls as girls. (For God's opinion of "sexual stereotypes," see Deuteronomy 22:5: "The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.") The Department has also tried to abolish school-sponsored father-son dinners and has pushed coed physical education programs — all in the name of sexual equality. In another instance, the federal government has funded "values-education" programs, which, as President Reagan remarked during the campaign, "indirectly teach grade-school children relativism." And then there's the Equal Rights Amendment — aggressively pushed by feminists. (As Herbert Armstrong likes to say, mother Eve, when she ate the forbidden fruit, was the first advocate of equal rights!) Lawyers disagree as to exactly what the ERA will do — though it certainly will force women to be drafted and also face an equal risk of combat — but everyone agrees that the ERA is more than just a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is a symbol of how our society views family life and sex roles: the traditional pattern where in the context of the family, men do certain things and women do certain things — or the brave new world of unisex. What the Moral Majority people have realized is that the ERA is a kind of national referendum on family life. If it were to become part of the American Constitution, it would permanently enshrine the unisex theory of law. Then there's abortion. What many people whose outlook is primarily secular and humanistic fail to realize is that abortion is to the 1980s what slavery was to the 1840s. It is such a monstrous evil that those who see it as the wholesale slaughter of human babies will not go away and accept it as part of a women's "right to choose." The senators who were the targets of the Moral Majority were universally against taking the necessary political action (basically, passing a Human Life Amendment) in order to end the evil of abortion. Or take homosexual rights. Many politicians favor laws that would force a religious person for whom' homosexuality is an abomination (see Leviticus 18:22; 20:13) to hire or rent to homosexuals. The acceptability of homosexuality has been aggressively pushed on prime-time television, and by television networks who haven't the foggiest ability to relate to people who take the Bible seriously. Then there's pornography. The Supreme Court has said that pornography can be banned if it "offends" local community standards. This has allowed a number of small communities to rid themselves of the public display of pornography. However, at the same time, the Supreme Court decision virtually insures that even the grossest obscenities will be on sale in large cities where the "community standards" are just about where they were in Sodom and Gomorrah.
Some of those of the opposite political persuasion have attacked these "conservative" Christians with a shrill vengeance. James Dunn, a Southern Baptist official in Texas, denounced the "evangelical right" as "uninformed, unrealistic, unfaithful to their highest ideals, uncaring, unbrotherly and untruthful." Carl Henry, a respected evangelical theologian, warned of the "goose-step mentality of a handful of vocal religious leaders." A Jesuit magazine, America, called the platform of the Christian Right "moral fascism." Jimmy Allen, head of the Southern Baptist Radio/TV Commission (and active himself in Jimmy Carter's reelection campaign) said Christian Right leaders were guilty of "dishonesty in oversimplification" about the abortion issue. Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, declared that it was "no coincidence that the rise of right-wing Christian fundamentalism has been accompanied by the most serious outbreak of anti-Semitism in America since the outbreak of World War II." (It is a little surprising the Rabbi should make such a statement — these groups are among the most enthusiastic supporters of Israel you will find among non-Jewish American voters anywhere!) And the Los Angeles Times ran an article from one of their staff writers warning of book censorship in the wake of the November elections. Prompted, we were asked to believe, by conservative fundamentalist ministers. Norman Lear, the prominent television producer, who gave the American public "Maude" and "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (hardly "profamily" shows) organized his own media campaign to warn that the Christian Right represented a threat to American democracy and the "American way." The big worry, of course, is the mixing of church and state. The American press has fed this worry over the last year by calling the supporters of the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran "Moslem fundamentalists." The point is to link the Christian Right — made up largely of Christian "fundamentalists" — to the practices of Khomeini's regime. The press is thereby subtly propagandizing that if the Moral Majority got its way, the United States would resemble Khomeini's Iran. In actuality, if the Moral Majority and like groups got their way, the laws on the books would merely return to something like what they were in the 1950s — when America was probably a freer society in many ways than it is today. The United States was hardly like the Ayatollah's Iran in the 1950s when it had stronger laws against abortion and pornography, and it permitted prayer in schools.
Much of the outcry over the Moral Majority and like groups is plain old hypocrisy. Remember the 1960s? Remember all the prominent clergymen who got involved in political causes — like opposing the Vietnam War or working to increase welfare: William Sloan Coffin, the Berrigan brothers, James Groppithese men of the cloth were not at all bashful about supporting liberal political causes. Indeed — you don't even have to go back to the 1960s — Andrew Young, the former U.S. Ambassador to the UN who called the Ayatollah Khomeini a "saint" and said the Cubans were a "stabilizing" force in Africa, is a minister. Where were all the concerned voices of protest about breaching the wall of church and state when they were advocating their causes? The National Council of Churches issued, in the wake of the election, a high-sounding statement saying it is "wrong for any religious group... to seek to Christianize government. It is arrogant to assert that one's position on a political issue is Christian and all others are unchristian." (The National Council of Churches, incidentally, has funneled money to revolutionaries under the guise of fighting "racism.") For years, religious groups have used their religious credentials to push causes like disarmament, higher taxes and more welfare, and harsh campaigns against South Africa (but never, ever the Soviet Union). Now that some religious leaders are pushing other causes, there are hysterical shrieks about "goose-stepping," "fascism," and "book-burning," all to imply that the Moral Majority and like groups are some variety of Nazism. If the Christian Right may pose a possible danger, it is in an area largely overlooked by the left-leaning critics. While there is a smattering of Jews, the Christian Right is made up almost completely of Sunday-keeping churches. It would be a tragedy if the Moral Majority — which has fought against secular atheistic humanistic propaganda being forced on believers in the public school system — were to try to enforce Sunday keeping under the guise of blue laws, which forbid work or shopping on Sunday. Thus far, Sunday keeping is not one of the causes of the Christian Right. We hope it will stay that way.
It doesn't take any special spiritual understanding to realize that family life and morality have been seriously eroded by the secular humanistic spirit that has dominated the major U.S. media and many left-leaning politicians over the past years. The Bible is so plain on these basic issues that no one who professes to take it seriously can possibly doubt that the Bible is a pro-family book. Jerry Falwell and other leaders of the Christian Right profess, of course, to follow the Bible. It is a shame, then, that, outside matters of basic morality, many of their doctrines are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Mr. Falwell should know, for example, that reverend is a title appropriate to the Eternal God (Psalm 111:9), and therefore not something that he should attach to his own name. Likewise, nowhere to be found are beliefs that you go to heaven when you die, that you should worship on the first day of the week, that you should observe Christmas and Easter instead of God's revealed Holy Days, that God is a Trinity — or that it is a sin not to vote, as Mr. Falwell claims. And most assuredly, Mr. Falwell is not "born again" (when you are born again, you are composed of spirit — read John 3:57). And it is a special irony — in light of their support for the modern state of Israel — that Mr. Falwell and the Moral Majority do not profess the basic key to Bible prophecy: the knowledge that modern Britain and America — as well as the Israelis — nationally make up the descendants of the biblical 12 tribes of Israel of old.
A Modern Josiah?
The candidate of the Moral Majority — Ronald Reagan — won the election. The Senate changed hands — something not expected in this generation. The House of Representatives became more conservative. Does this mean the course of the country will change? The ERA now looks dead. But changing the laws regarding pornography and abortion will require a change at the Supreme Court — the Moral Majority still doesn't have the clout to pass a constitutional amendment. The drive for the affirmative rights of homosexuals to force others to rent to or to hire them may slow — but homosexuality will probably remain acceptable in the eyes of the liberal media. The realistic odds are that the Christian Right will fail to stem the decline of the family. It is, for example, afraid itself to do much about laws that do more than anything else to promote family breakup — the no-fault divorce laws that sanction divorce for even the most frivolous of reasons. Nevertheless, it is possible that at least a temporary change of direction — or slowing of the decline — is in the offing. Such would parallel events of about 2,500 years ago. Just before the ancient nation of Judah fell, it had one last king who stemmed the tide — Josiah. Mr. Reagan has made the appropriate pro-family statements. He seems as if he will be against the subtle antireligious and antifamily bias that pervades federally funded programs in sex and moral education in the public schools, as well as many other activities of the government. "When I hear the First Amendment used as a reason to keep traditional moral values away from policymaking, I am shocked," Mr. Reagan has said. "The First Amendment was written not to protect the people and their laws from religious values but to protect those values from government tyranny." When Josiah came to office, Judah was already in a state of advanced decay. National character does not change easily — or quickly. Can anyone really expect a reversal of the trend toward sexual and moral permissiveness at this late hour? From a hardheaded point of view, and from Bible prophecy, we know that such is extremely unlikely.