January 29, 2012

Decline of Christian Extremist Influence Should Not Be Overstated

evangelismEvery few years, a story appears in the U.S. news media suggesting that evangelical fundamentalist Christianity is losing political influence and is on its way out. These predictions never seem to materialize, but that doesn't stop people from making them.

With Rick "Man on Dog" Santorum's poll numbers remaining relatively low even after winning the endorsement of many prominent Christian extremists, we saw another round of these stories. When Santorum drops out of the Republican presidential primary, I suspect we will see another. With history as our guide, I suggest that we approach such stories with considerable skepticism.

During my lifetime, the political influence of evangelical Christian fundamentalists has waxed and waned. It has never been a constant, and I'm not sure why this would surprise anyone. Again and again, we witness a rise to power, a series of overreaches that make most of the sane public quite nervous, and a loss of influence. But it would seem naive to assume that there will not be another rise in the future.

Even though I would like to believe that we are finally seeing the beginning of the end of this toxic movement, I cannot. Christian extremism isn't going anywhere.

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