DAYTON, OH – With the presidential election decided in favor of George W. Bush, millions of evangelical Christians have returned to a state of political inertia, experts say. Content that their man will be inaugurated for a second term this January, these believers are gladly disengaging from the political process for another four years.
“Well, that should just about do it,” said Ryan Alcorn, scraping the W'04 bumper sticker off the rear window of his Dodge Caravan. “All this political activity has really left me exhausted. I’m so glad I don’t have to think about it again for a few years.” Tossing a hand-painted sign in the back, he continued, “Now I can go back to holding up my ‘John 3:16’ sign at Buckeyes games instead of the ‘Bush-Cheney’ one.”
The sense of relief was echoed two doors down, where Naomi White was throwing away three dozen unused Christian Coalition Voter’s Guides. “I’m glad it’s over, yes. Now the family can get back to doing devotions using the Bible, instead of these voter's guides.”
Not everyone is relieved, however. Directors of conservative nonprofits expect a sharp decline in donations from evangelicals. Some organizations budget for it, in fact. “We basically think of evangelicals as a special Christmas that only comes during presidential election years,” said Kelly Helfer, CEO of Women For Life International. “It’s nice when it happens, but if we expected them to care about the atrocity of abortion every year—if we based our budget on that—we’d go under before you could say “Reverse Roe!”
Helfer said the lax attitude toward political involvement extends beyond the pocketbook. It seems as soon as they cast their votes, evangelicals stop paying attention to the issues. “I spoke to a prospective donor earlier today, someone who had pledged money during the campaign period but hadn’t sent in her check. Not only did she renege on her commitment, but when I mentioned Arlen Specter’s potential obstructionist tendencies, she had no idea who or what I was talking about. I swear, for people whose minds are supposed to be renewed, evangelicals can sure be awfully dim.”
In contrast, politically liberal Christians have already begun thinking ahead to the coming year and to the midterm elections in 2006. Clinton Vandoren of the Center For Christian Progressivism admits he was disappointed at the results of the presidential election, but is anxious to get back to what he calls “the real work of Christ, which has nothing to do with politics, when you get right down to it. We’ll be back out there feeding hungry people and fighting for workers’ rights and calling for sensible ecological policy. Not that we can hope for much, what with Jerry Falwell’s hand up the back of the President’s shirt for another four years.”
Christian Pollster George Gallup speculates that this ebb and flow is consistent with the evangelical way. “Look at revivals, crusades, camp meetings,” Gallup noted. “Every couple years evangelicals realize they’ve been heading down the wrong path, and they find some intense way of correcting it. Then they figure they’ve done their part, and they fade out for another few years. Hey, so long as they remember to vote in the presidential years, it’s fine by me.”