July 30, 2006

Could the Religious Right Evolve?

Back in June, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an interesting story about possible changes within the Christian right. The article focuses on the Southern Baptist Convention's election of Rev. Frank Page as their new president. According to the article, Page's election may be evidence of a shift in the organization away from "the angry, right-wing, politicized preacher who has been a stock figure in American life for more than two decades."

Might this mean that the American public is growing tired of what the Christian right has become (i.e., an ultra-conservative force of intolerance and hatred)? The article states that the political agenda of the Christian right is expanding to include attention to poverty, AIDS, the environment, and other important social issues on which many of us would agree deserve increased attention. For more evidence of movement away from right-wing values, see this article in the New York Times.

I hope such trends do actually emerge among fundamentalist Christian groups. However, I'm sure you'll understand it if I remain somewhat skeptical about this for now. According to Robert Parham, executive director of the Baptist Center for Ethics, "One election neither makes a positive trend, nor unmakes the essence of fundamentalism." Although he's right, meaningful change must start somewhere. Let's hope that we are seeing the beginning of a real change.

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