As it dawns on the Republican Party that the American people are not entirely down with the Norquistian anti-tax pledge, so is it dawning that the upper hand in the culture war may not lie with religious conservatives. So along comes Richard Stearns, president of the evangelical international aid agency World Vision, with a call to Christians to lay down their arms.
On Election Day, he blogged on Huffpost that “we are quickly moving toward a secular society.”
As this cultural shift has occurred, many Christians have reacted in frustration. We have fought to place the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas crèches outside town halls. We have sued over public prayers and crosses in state parks. One court recently weighed in on whether cheerleaders at a Texas school should be allowed to post Bible verses on their banners.
On Sunday, he returned to the theme, declaring that “engaging in a bitter 'culture war' in order to preserve America's formerly dominant Christian culture has been largely a failed strategy. We cannot win in the courts and at the ballot box that which we have lost in the court of public opinion.”
Stearns' idea is that you can catch more flies with a strategy of Christian love. More power to him.
But the new strategy won't succeed, I'm afraid, unless Stearns' Christians decide to back away from tougher culture war battles than Ten Commandments plaques and crèches in the public square. There's abortion and same-sex marriage and, yes, Obamacare's contraception coverage mandate that provide the real tests for whether they can make their peace with today's secular civic order.
If they don't disengage from those battles, it will be as Jeremiah said: “They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”