Evidently there is a growing pressure from local rank and file Republicans for the party and the leadership to stop opposing gay marriage. They argue that the issue distracts the party from dealing with more fundamental issues related to the economy and health care. They continue on to note that for the party to attract younger voters in larger numbers, they Republican party needs to formally change its position.
While nearly all of the nationally elected leaders and a large number of state leaders oppose gay marriage, while a growing majority of the upcoming leaders who are being elected to local offices are in favor of the party changing its position. Though the majority of Republicans over the age of 55 are against gay marriage, a majority of Republicans under the age of 30 are supportive of gay marriages.
Is a significant shift in the offing in a year or two? Though some political observers suggest it is at hand within a year or two, I doubt that it will occur, at least not until at least two more presidential election cycles. I cannot foresee it has happening that quickly because of the evangelical and fundamentalist Christian wing of the party dominates the agenda, and Christians of that persuasion provide a significantly large portion of the party’s income.
The shift will occur as the dominance of the religious right declines, but it will not be for some time yet. Data going back into the early 80s signaled that the evangelical and fundamentalist churches were likely headed for decline in the first two decades of this century. Studies in the last decade have not only confirmed this but are indicating that the decline may become more rapid that anticipated two decades ago. There is also growing evidence that the more politically active the religious right has become, the more its sway and profile is before the public, the number of young people leaving evangelical and fundamentalist churches has grown. There seems to a correlation between the activism of the religious right and the lack of attraction for the younger generation.
The power and influence of the religious right will decline over the next decade. Fewer election officials on the national level will feel beholding to the religious right for securing their election. It is then that the shift will occur. There will be much consternation within the religious right when the Republican party changes its position on gay marriage. And when it does, the religious right will face a conundrum, hold their noses while supporting the Republican on the ballet, or run a candidate of their own who is unlikely to win the seat, or not vote. While some will cease voting, running their own candidates in primaries will be first pursued by most. Eventually more and more will become engaged and support a candidate even if the candidate does not align with their views of marriage and the gay lifestyle. It will be a painful process but that is the price of being highly engaged in one party and pushing a narrow agenda.
Christians need to be involved in politics, allowing their faith to guide their thinking while speaking respectfully on a breath of issues, just as those of faith different than theirs should do, put forward their arguments in a cogent manner while recognizing that the government and society is not a branch of the church, or expected to do the bidding of the church. Expecting government to do the bidding of the church, or a theological brand of the church, it is unhealthy for the church, government and the nation.
When the distinction between faith and governance becomes enmeshed in politics, particularly so when heavily aligned with one party, the distinction between the secular and the sacred worlds are blurred but at risk of being erased, with candidates rejected on a narrow set of standards for not being “Christian” enough. Also, such political endeavors result in the church supporting government actions that are not only highly questionable but may well be contrary to the church’s proclaimed values and faith…which may partly account for far fewer under 30s attending conservative churches than their parents did in the 70s and early 80s.