R.R. Reno recognizes the politicization of religion

by Mr. Sheehy

Religiosity now strongly correlates with partisan loyalty. Nones are overwhelmingly Democrat. Regular churchgoers, especially but not exclusively Evangelicals, trend ­Republican. This politicizes religion. Second, religious people are becoming more and more dependent on the Republican party to protect their interests (religious liberty, for example). We could easily become a taken-for-granted base largely irrelevant to the party’s larger policy debate, as African-Americans often are in the Democratic party. Third, religion, especially orthodox Christianity, may end up implicated in the inevitable failures and corruptions of the Republican party. We may be in danger of recapitulating in some ways the disastrous alliances of the Catholic Church with the European right in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

R.R. Reno, writing for First Things, a magazine to which I used to subscribe. Reno’s analysis of the politicization of religion is one that has concerned me for quite some time, as it frustrates me that the causes about which I care most are pieces of one party’s platform and not the other’s. Why must only one party be concerned with protecting religious liberty? A couple years ago I read Simple Justice, a history of the Brown v. Board of Education, and it struck me that many of the decisions Christian conservatives in that era would have decried (and many conservative Christians of this era still would decry) would be ones that would most help religious believers today–decisions that affect individual liberty and civil rights. But to my mind, those issues are approached through what Reno calls potentially “disastrous alliances.” I don’t know what might lead out of the tight alliance set-up–I suppose I’ll leave it to experts beyond myself to theorize on that–but it does leave me a bit hopeful when I hear about about Christian Democrats like Tony Campolo: hopeful because, even if I don’t count myself among them, I figure if there are enough of them, they could help swing issues like religious liberty out from under the wing of just one political party.