Rabbi Shmuley Boteach gets it: How evangelicals lost political credibility

This is a must read. He presents his perspective well and communicates clearly. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a conservative Rabbi debated Michael Brown, a really conservative minister last night in North Carolina over whether homosexuality is America’s greatest moral crisis. Rabbi Boteach wrote about it in WaPo’s On Faith Blog today:

I argued passionately that evangelicals had become obsessed with homosexuality. They took a single prohibition in the Bible and elevated it to single moral standard besides which all else pails. I pointed out how in 2004, amid President George W. Bush being the most hated man on earth he still won the election because of evangelical support. The reason: as the polls showed, 22% of all voters had voted for values. But now, just one night before the mid-term elections, the tea party had completely usurped the place of the evangelicals. The only thing being discussed in this election was jobs, money, the size of government, and the national debt. In other words, the economy and money. Not one major values-based issue was even on the table. Why? Because the people who talk about values and are a large voting block – primarily evangelical Christians – had utterly marginalized themselves with their obsession over homosexuality. Forget about the fifty percent divorce rate, the growing sexualization of young teens (Miley Cyrus is now pole-dancing), the collapse of the American economy because of addiction to shopping, no, all the problems in America can be laid at the feet of gays. And if we stop the gay agenda, then America will suddenly be transformed into a family-friendly, spiritually rich, Eden-like Shangri-La.

Boteach continues to say he could not convince Brown’s audience. I am not surprised. He concludes by calling values voters to stand up for some other values:

What is needed are Evangelical Christian leaders who finally change the subject and focus us on what really can be done to save the American family, namely, strengthening marriage, reducing the divorce rate, increasing male respect for women, and pushing for a congressional bill to make marital counseling tax-deductible so that couples who need help can afford it and keep their families intact.

I would add to Boteach’s list but the point is well taken. Some evangelical brothers and sisters have traveled the way C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape hoped:

Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cageful down here.

Your affectionate uncle, SCREWTAPE