Ever since the Reagan era in the 1980s, the Republican Party has rested heavily on white evangelicals and the "God, guns and gays" mantra. But new reports say "religious right" power in U.S. politics is weakening.
A front-page analysis in The Wall Street Journal -- titled "Evangelical Leader Preaches a Pullback from Politics, Culture Wars" -- says the new top figure of the large Southern Baptist Convention wants to reverse the denomination's hostility to gays and reduce its lockstep march with the GOP.
The Rev. Russell Moore told the 16-million-member faith that same-sex marriage shouldn't be "a 'culture war' political issue," and gays should be welcomed by Southern Baptists.
The Journal speculates that this flip-flop is happening because white fundamentalists have lost their attempt to stigmatize gays, especially among young Americans. Leaders are "conceding that their long quest to roll back the sexual revolution has failed," it says, adding that fundamentalists are suffering public contempt similar to the U.S. rebuke "that followed the 1925 Scopes 'monkey trial' over Tennessee's effort to limit the teaching of evolution."
Ralph Reed, a disgraced evangelical who once headed Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, said: "I would characterize the movement as having experienced a very tough defeat that now requires a shift of tactics."
The national business newspaper continued: "Every year, tens of thousands of evangelicals, particularly the young, leave the Southern Baptist and other big denominational churches." It added that a research firm "projects the church's membership will fall by half to 8.5 million by 2050."
Meanwhile, America is gaining millions of young secular people who don't attend church -- and who vote strongly Democratic. These trends hint that the GOP may be losing its foundation, like a house built on sand.Last week, Illinois became the 15th state to legalize gay marriage, and the U.S. Senate voted to ban job discrimination against homosexuals. A few months earlier, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Republican-backed Defense of Marriage Act that forbade gays to wed. The tide of American morality is rolling relentlessly against the prejudice that was a pillar of GOP politics.