Days before the election Pastor Robert Jeffress of the 10,000-member First Baptist Church of Dallas compared President Obama to Hitler, telling 600 other pastors at a luncheon that if they didn’t speak out on the election, it could lead to another Holocaust. On election day Franklin Graham, railing against the president, said on CNN that “this election could be America’s last call before the return of Christ.” (After the election Graham said that the country was now on a “path to destruction.”) It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, that Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), reacting to the reelection of the president and victories for gay marriage in four states, issued a dire warning of “a revolt, a revolution” if the Supreme Court now rules in favor of same-sex marriage, with “Americans saying, ‘You know what? Enough of this!'”
The court may do just that on Nov. 20 if it lets stand the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. The court is also likely to take on the Defense of Marriage Act, which has been ruled unconstitutional by several federal appeals courts.
It’s outrageous that Perkins would even remotely suggest violence (“I hate to use the words,” he said, “but I mean a revolt, a revolution”), particularly given that FRC was itself targeted by a gunman and Perkins was the first to claim that rhetoric against his group is what caused that violence. It betrays the fear and desperation now gripping the leaders of the decades-old political movement known as the Christian right, which is faced with some vexing realities:
1. There may no longer be enough of them. Contrary to what some may have predicted, evangelical voters turned out for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, making up a greater percentage of the electorate than they did in 2004, when they helped reelect George W. Bush, and giving a larger percentage of their vote (78 percent) to Romney than they did to John McCain in 2008. It’s not about loyalty. What they’re facing is something much more difficult: the rise of the “nones,” which I wrote about a few weeks ago. The fastest-growing religious category comprises those who have no religious affiliation, now the second largest category after Catholics, and even larger among younger voters. They overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and they largely vote Democratic. And polls show that even a majority of younger evangelicals themselves support marriage equality.