NY Times' Kristof: "Christian Right has largely retreated from the culture wars"
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In his December 3 New York Times column (subscription required), Nicholas D. Kristof condemned the "fundamentalist" writings of atheists such as Oxford University professor Richard Dawkins and author Sam Harris, claiming that "the tone of this Charge of the Atheist Brigade is often just as intolerant -- and mean" as that of Christian conservatives. Kristof concluded his column by claiming that "the Christian Right has largely retreated from the culture wars," adding that he hopes "that the Atheist Left doesn't revive them." Kristof provided no support for his assertion. Nor did he explain how it squares with recent actions by Christian conservative leaders. For example:
- Last week, Christian church leaders criticized evangelical pastor and author Rick Warren for inviting Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) to speak at an evangelical AIDS conference because of Obama's support for abortion rights. Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the National Clergy Council and chairman of the Evangelical Church Alliance's Committee on Church and Society, asserted that "Senator Obama's policies represent the antithesis of biblical ethics and morality, not to mention supreme American values, " adding that "as a supporter of abortion, Sen. Obama nullifies the first of all human rights, the right to life." Conservative radio host and columnist Kevin McCullough recently asked: "Why would Warren marry the moral equivalency of his pulpit -- a sacred place of honor in evangelical tradition -- to the inhumane, sick and sinister evil that Obama has worked for as a legislator?"
- The Times itself recently noted that Christian Coalition of America (CCA) president-elect Rev. Joel C. Hunter stepped down because CCA's executive board had "resisted his [Hunter's] efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming." The Times noted that Hunter "has gained a reputation as an evangelical leader seeking to expand the agenda of conservative Christian activists from issues like abortion and same-sex marriage."
- Religious conservative groups such as Focus on the Family supported midterm election ballot initiatives attempting to ban same-sex marriage in eight states, while other groups such as the Family Research Council criticized the New Jersey Supreme Court's decision granting same-sex couples the same legal rights and benefits as married couples.
- The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is conducting a "2006 Christmas Watch," noting: "Every December sees its fair share of 'Grinches,' those retailers, schools, websites, towns and municipalities who refuse to acknowledge Christmas as part of the 'holiday season.' These Christmas kill-joys are all around. This Christmas, the Catholic League, Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. and the other Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have joined up to put the spotlight on these folks."