I am an historian, not a prophet. Nevertheless, I have been predicting this move for years–in blog posts, private conversations, and class lectures. I understand their frustration–it stinks to get empty promises from politicians who secretly (and some not-so-secretly) think you are a whack job. But this is a dumb move, albeit one that I think is inevitable. Make no mistake about it: if Dobson and company move forward with their ill-conceived plan to run a third party candidate, it will be the end of the Religious Right. And if that happens, Southern Baptists may actually have to listen to expository sermons, pass resolutions calling for integrity in church membership statistics, and generally focus on the gospel at our annual meetings. We won’t know what to do with ourselves.
One can only dream that Dr. Finn is correct. But who has time for such wishful thinking? Journalists, bloggers, and authors have predicted the “end of the Religious Right” for years now. Same song, different verse.
I do wonder why Finn and others consider such a move to be so ill-conceived? I commend Dobson and Perkins for trying to be principled. Both have built their careers on the pro-life movement. Opposition to abortion-rights is the cornerstone from which their entire political ideology and strategy has emerged. Randall Balmer would most likely disagree and cite his Abortion Myth thesis. However, for the sake of this discussion, I’m willing to dismiss that notion. So kudos to Dobson for showing a wee-bit of consistency. Why is it ill-conceived when any person chooses to stand on principle rather than selling out to what may be more politically expedient? If my own personal career was built on demonizing pro-choice Christians, wouldn’t that make me a first class hypocrite if I turned around and supported a pro-choice candidate?