by Tiffany Stanley
July 12, 2014
IN JUNE, THE Southern Baptist Convention gathered for its annual meeting in Baltimore, with more than 5,000 members descending on the city’s convention center. On the second and final day of the conference, Moore ascended the main stage, which was in a hall as high and wide as an airplane hangar. Flanked by giant video screens, he delivered a rousing speech, reporting on how his agency had represented Southern Baptists in the public square during his first year as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. He reminded his flock that what matters most is not politics. “The primary vehicle for hope isn’t found on Air Force One regardless of who is riding in Air Force One,” he said. “The vehicle of hope is not found in the United States Capitol, regardless of who is holding the gavel in the United States Capitol. The vehicle of hope is found in lines and lines of children in Vacation Bible School.”
The Hobby Lobby case is in many ways a model for the new strategy being pursued by the Religious Right. It represents a way to engage in politics that is less aggressive than the tactics of the previous generation of believers. Back then, the key phrase was “family values”; now, it is “religious liberty.” You see it everywhere—from contraception court cases to legislation to think-tank conferences.
This shift in rhetoric has moved the Religious Right from offense to defense in the culture wars, as Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins put it last year. The main aim, it seems, is not to oppose contraception or gay marriage but to be left alone: to extract a promise that religious conservatives will not have to photograph a gay wedding or pay for someone else’s birth control. It is a version of the Religious Right that even the libertarian wing of the Republican Party—a historical rival for influence within the GOP—can get behind.
“We’re not unrealistic,” says Perkins of the Family Research Council. “Our focus is more keeping the barbarians at bay, really.” His organization has started working more at the state level on freedom-of-expression laws. “We kind of saw that coming about three years ago and began shifting a lot of our emphasis on religious liberty.”
(excerpt—MUCH more at link)