Personal Faith Public Policy
With the presidential nominees soon to be finalized, many are wondering where religious Americans will land. In their new book, Personal Faith, Public Policy (FrontLine; March 2008), Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, and Bishop Harry Jackson, chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church, argue that the religious Right is not falling apart; rather it is growing, expanding, and being rejuvenated.
"What our critics see as 'splintering' is actually the growing pains that precede a healthy expansion," write Jackson and Perkins. "The movement is adapting to the changing political environment and broadening its ranks while holding firmly to the principles that have united us thus far."
Jackson and Perkins write that the religious Right has experienced significant growth in recent years, becoming more diverse in a number of important ways, from race to age to political affiliation; however, they conclude that unifying these coalitions has been and will continue to be a challenge to the religious Right.
In an effort to unite these diverse coalitions, Jackson and Perkins advocate building upon the pro-life, pro-family issues that have been the mainstay of the religious Right. They intend to expand the religious Right's influence into immigration policy, poverty and social justice, racial reconciliation, and global warming.
"While some argue that evangelicals lose influence when they fail to vote as a bloc for a particular political party, the ability to seed both parties and operate as a political 'free agent' could prove to have a much greater impact on actual public policy. As a result of the broadening of the evangelical movement, both political parties will increasingly have to compete for support of evangelicals to succeed. This, we believe, will ultimately result in policies that are more faith-friendly," write Jackson and Perkins.