The Futility of Conservative Politicians and Christian Political Organizations-Cause and Correction

Feb 25, 2022 by David Fowler

The Futility of Conservative Politicians and Christian Political Organizations-Cause and Correction
Last week a pastor well known in certain Baptist circles in Tennessee texted these words to me after receiving my new book about the United States Supreme Court, The Naked Court-Understanding and Resisting a Damnable United States Supreme Court, “You are a camelhair-wearing, locust-eating, fire-breathing PROPHET.” So, now, turning from the Court, I will provide an honest assessment of the work being done in conservative and Christian political circles.
I have concluded that solutions to the ills confronting America—and Tennessee — based on what I have gleaned from legislation being hotly pursued here—will not be coming from the Republican Party or any of the Christians political and legal organizations with which I am familiar.

I am not the pot calling the kettle black. In the Epilogue to my new book, I admitted the futility of my own political endeavors over the last twenty years. It is available for free at this link.

However, beyond what I wrote about myself, I believe the efforts of Republican elected officials and the Christian political organizations I know are futile but not irredeemable. 

What Makes Political Activity Futile

My friend Jeff Shafer recently summed up well what I see as the problem with conservative and Christian political and legal engagement in his speech, “Mischief in the Law.” When asked during Q&A what was the best way forward within this sphere, he said:
Many are those who have made the observation that our tendency to act, to do something, is not always preceded by a pause and lengthy period of time in trying to think through exactly is going on. We seem to associate activity with effectiveness, which I think is mistaken. It would do us well to perhaps reconsider that. 

So, step one ought to be to think carefully about what is happening.
I have experienced this “do something” approach firsthand, even being guilty of it myself. 

This, though, in sum, is why the efforts I see coming from those in these two political circles are futile: They do not know, except in a very superficial way at best, the fundamental problem underneath all the varied problems that need to be addressed. They do not know because, in large part, the way we do things does not lend itself to gaining that knowledge.  

Consequently, they have no substantial, enduring strategy for fixing anything.

Trying to Avoid Futility

Thinking, contemplating, studying, and researching both the present and the past that contributed to where we now are is work, a lot of work, and the amount of work is compounded for those who add to it diligence in prayer and searching the Scriptures. 

For example, I have spent six years thinking through the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, with three other people. I have read countless Supreme Court decisions and law review articles trying to discern what led to Obergefell’s denial of any given, fixed meaning to male and female and its consequents, like marriage, along with several books.  

That work is just now beginning to bear some fruit. The Marital Contract Recording Act, Senate Bill 562/House Bill 233 is just one product of that work.

But that legislation has also helped me realize that futility is built into the structures of our political and legal structures and the organizations that engage those structures.

Futility Is Built into the System


The provisions in the marriage legislation are not that complicated to understand but impressing on legislators just how fundamentally important that legislation is from a big picture perspective (from a constitutional and worldview perspective) compared to the legislation they think matters most to their constituents and, therefore, to their re-election, is nearly impossible. 

What politician limited to 15-minute meetings with constituents and lobbyists and voting on over 600 pieces of legislation in a four-month period has time to go beyond, “What does the bill do as a practical matter, how does it work?” 

When session is over, the problem persists. State legislators must get back to earning a living at their real jobs. No time for deeper understanding then either.
Christian Political Organizations

Christian political organizations have little time for that kind of work when budgets must be funded, and fundraising is too often seen as dependent, not on God’s supply, but on showing donors their “legislative efforts.” (Not a guess, but the essence of what a board member from a national Christian organization said to me last year.) Tangible legislative activity becomes the measure of the organization’s effectiveness and value, so they must “do something,” they have to react.

Too many donors want “action”, and they want it now. It doesn’t matter if they are throwing their money at activities that will prove futile because at least they are “doing something.” The tendency to be Martha, not Mary, is still strong among Christians (Luke 10:38-42), and activity that preceding knowledge (particularly of God) is futile in God’s sight.

For reasons too many to enumerate, evangelical Churches are, by and large, a lost cause when it comes to helping members think deeply about anything beyond the subjective theology they want to improve their personal lives (a damnable God-exists-for-my-sake theology). What about understanding law and government from the standpoint of objective theology? With very few exceptions, I have found you can forget about that being provided. 

Is There Any Hope?

Absolutely. Here is how I summed it up in my book in relation to the futality of my own political efforts:
I [have] thought about the two “signature” achievements of my political engagement, the marriage amendment to the Tennessee Constitution and the “Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act”, Public Chapter 278, 107th General Assembly. Both have been largely swept away, the former by Justices Anthony Kennedy in Obergefell v. Hodges and the latter by Justice Neil Gorsuch in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia (2020).

As best I can tell, the enduring political value of those legislative efforts is no greater than those of my larger, nationally known, and more “glorious” predecessors in Christian public policy, Jerry’s Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, and for what I believe to be the same reason.[i]

Thankfully, having come to some understanding of the glory of God, I also know for a certainty that God is greater than my failures. He has and will continue to direct them to His own good purposes and ends (Romans 11:36), even as He did with those who crucified Jesus (Acts 4:27-28). My only consolation about past work is found in God, not what I have done. (emphasis added)

While that may seem like little consolation to those rightfully afraid their country is going down the tubes in a hurry and, along with it, the way of life to which they have grown accustomed and that they want for the sake of their children and grandchildren, the theological objective truth is that God is our only hope and consolation (Psalm 42, Romans 15:3, 1 Peter 1:13).

The sooner Christians and Americans in general realize that this is where hope lies—even in our engagement with politics, government, and law—the greater the likelihood that God will not use the futility of our politics to chasten and reform us.

David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. 

[i] Dr. Jerry Falwell said, “Moral Majority is a political organization and is not based on theological considerations.” Moral Majority Report, Vol. I, No. 13 (Oct 15, 1980), p. 4 (emphasis added). This is an outright dualism that denies the Christian doctrine of creation. It separates God from an aspect of His creation—ethics, law, and civil government—repudiating Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.” Falwell also said, “we are mobilized, we are effective, and, we are not going away.” Interview with John Rees, Review of the News, Vol. 17, No. 18 (May 6, 1981), p. 2. This is the arrogance and hubris about which James wrote (James 3:13-16) and the poetical figure Ozymandias bears witness. I have been guilty as well. 

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