The Christian Coalition on Geritol?

Young people have been turning away in larger numbers from the extremism, hate and intolerance of the religious right in recent years. In 2008, for example, polling showed that Barack Obama doubled his support among young evangelicals compared to John Kerry’s performance with the same group in the 2004 presidential election. From a New York Times article shortly after the 2008 election:

“There is definitely a generational division,” said David P. Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University and author of “The Future of Faith in American Politics: The Public Witness of the Evangelical Center.”

“Young evangelicals,” Dr. Gushee said, are “attracted to a broader agenda” beyond abortion and homosexuality, that includes the environment, poverty, human rights and torture.

Now religious-right pooh-bah Ralph Reed, former head of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, says young people will become conservatives as they get older. The chairman of the newish Faith & Freedom Coalition, which seeks to unite tea party and religious-right activists, says time is on the religious right’s side:

“There are three things that will happen that will make them far more receptive to the conservative values of faith,” Reed said. “No. 1, they’re going to get a job — we hope,” he said. “They’re going to start paying taxes and they’re going to be supporting public services. Secondly they’re going to get married, and thirdly, they’re going to have children.”

Reed said it was “empirical fact” and “not a value judgement or a moral judgement” that the squarification of the millenials will boost the ranks of evangelical conservatives.

“If people are employed and they’re married and they have children, it’s game, set, match,” he said. “They’re going to be more conservative.”

Time will tell, but it seems unlikely that young people alienated by an obsession with promoting discrimination and hatred against gay people, turning back the clock on women’s access to contraception and other reproductive health care, and rejecting established science on everything from evolution to climate change will find their way into Reed’s camp.

Talking Points Memo describes what Faith and Freedom Coalition events, like the conference that began Thursday in Washington, D.C., often look like:

FFC meetings are held all over the country and share something in common with tea party rallies and evangelical gatherings: They’re typically devoid of young people. The crowd at Thursday’s kickoff event skewed middle-aged.

Reed calls FFC “the Christian Coalition on steroids.” But perhaps a better description might be “the Christian Coalition on Geritol.”

18 thoughts on “The Christian Coalition on Geritol?

  1. I hear ya, Jane… I’m 66, brought up in a very conventional home and the older I get the more certain I become as to what my opinions are AND the less tolerant I become of smug, self-rightous guardians of moral “right ” …. I guess I’ve been around the block too many times….

  2. Reed is partly right. Getting a job, getting married, having kids, and just plain getting older are likely to make the current generation drift slightly more conservative. (Yes, there are outliers who buck the trend. There’s still a trend.)

    However, just because they become more conservative, does not mean that they will become more religious. Furthermore, that shift of generational cohorts to become more conservative over time is relatively gradual compared to the shift to more liberal attitudes across successive generations.

  3. Meanwhile, we would be foolish to ignore the fact that the Religious Right is still quite powerful and that younger people do not vote as do older fundamentalists. We are not out of the woods by a long shot. — Edd Doerr, President, Americans for Religious Liberty, arlinc.org

    1. Also annoying — even within age brackets, the less religious are also less likely to vote.

  4. Dang, we’re a bunch of old geezers, aren’t we! I sure haven’t gone conservative in the last half-century…….

    1. Your daughter is more “Christ-like” by far. Congratulations to you for raising a caring human being.

  5. I must be bucking the trend. I will be 60 in December. I have been married to the same person for 33 years (only wife), and I have two children. I have always been partial to Jesus, who was a social liberal with an exponent next to it. My Jesus-oriented liberalism existed at age 15. It still exists now. On top of it all, I have dragged my whole family into it. My daughter was briefly caught up with some Christian fundamentalist high school friends and their berserko church. It did a negative mental health number on her, so she went to a brief counseling session with the pastor at our church who briefly and concretely reassured her that her friends and their church are a bunch of two-bit shitheads. Since that time, my daughter has been behaving in a most unChristian-like manner and doing terribly unChristian things like visiting people in nursing homes and helping little old ladies who are too feeble to do their own shopping. You tell me who the real Christian is here—my daughter or Ralph Reed?

  6. Pushing 50 and the religious right is pushing me to be
    more liberal every day.

  7. I have to hope, as a teacher, that this is true. But, I see a lot of sneaky things going on trying to snatch up our young people in the schools and fill them with “his Almighty grace”. When I was young, it was Young Life heavily recruiting on our campus. Now, it’s groups like Heart to Heart who claim to be a girls’ character building club, but are in fact a Bible study club promoted, held at, and supported at my school. I’ve known girls who went to it thinking to just be in a girls’ club with friends and then had to bow out when they found out what it really was. Hard lesson to learn at 10 years old. I still see it so clearly. Somehow, it is both more sneaky and more obtuse.

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