Rob Taub, and American TV commentator, radio host most and Newsmax columnist shares his opinions about these issues.
Rob says that the impact of evangelicals on the Republican Party has been very strong, not necessarily by virtue of strength of numbers, but by virtue of good organization. "It's like the NRA. They don't have an enormous number of members, but they are powerful because of their organization, and they wield money and influence. It it is the same thing with evangelicals. They are an organized group, there are a much larger number of liberals who can complain about things most vociferously, but not with the same level of organization. So evangelicals in our country are a very pointed, organized bunch."
Host John Harrison points out how Terry Heaton (who worked alongside televangelist Pat Robertson on the 700 Club show, and became its executive producer), in his 2017 book: ‘The Gospel of Self: How Jesus Joined the GOP' where he describes how evangelical Christianity forced itself on a needy Republican Party in order to gain influence on a global level. He describes how the 700 Club moved Christians steadily into the Republican Party, and moved the party itself to the right.
Rob Taub comments: "I agree, I think that the evangelics are a very crafty bunch, in fact when you mention the 700 Club, I used to watch that show, and I got the impression that they didn't really do anything other than ask for money. They did it brilliantly, and it was called the 700 Cub because $700 was the minimum amount of money that you could send in. This is a substantial amount of money for people of limited means, and this goes way back. I think this trickled down (to use a Republican phrase) to people who weren't necessarily evangelical but people who held good Christian values. They would say that we are going to vote for this particular candidate because they would seem to embody being a good Church going person… it is a club, and you realize that my $700 is giving me the ability to wield power by donating enormous amounts of money….The fact that they could wield such power has always amazed me. There was a television show over 25 years ago in America called NYPD Blue. It was the first to use racy language, although today it wouldn't even be considered to be in that category. Before it was even aired, a religious right group got all the advertisers to pull their advertising…. Christianity has always had a missionary aspect to it, as can be seen in the way they proselytize. If you want to covert to Judaism for example it is incredibly difficult. It's like getting a degree from a university…. It is much easier to convert to Christianity in this country."
The Republican Party has not always been so influenced by the evangelicals. Rob says: "There have been so many changes, as more and more laws and freedoms have been enacted, perhaps they became a more vocal group because they saw the level of control or power that they wanted to exercise diminishing. Intermarriages between different groups in this country are normal progressions but also something that conservatives don't like. So what do they do? Without really vocally condemning it, they say we support the rule of God, and God says you shouldn't do this, so it's a way of bringing conservatism back…"
But the situation is changing. 20 years ago, just 46% of white evangelical protestants were older than 50, now 60% are above 50. According to an article in Newsweek, only 10% of Americans under 30 identify as white evangelicals. The exodus is so great that demographers now predict that evangelicals may probably not be a major political force in the US presidential elections by 2024. Rob comments. "I think these figures are true because organized religion is not the factor that it once was in this country. We are becoming more and more tolerant, the idea of the religious right seeing NYPD Blue now as being a threat of any kind is ridiculous these days. So will they lose their power? Yes, but then we get into talking about our President Donald Trump who has found a new way to mobilize the religious right by evoking fear in them, and by bringing about a particular resurgence of conservatism. Trump's ultimate message is that we want to keep other people out (the minorities). Although the religious right may not be as populous as it once was, people with that thinking still exist, there is still conservatism in this country and Trump has found a way to tap into it.
As far as the impact of a weakening evangelical base on the next election in 2020 goes, Rob argues that it not so much about the evangelicals but about the lack of leadership within the Democrats. "There is no real leadership, no real vision of values or sets of beliefs, there are some who want socialism, others who want something else, there are all these people vying for power there is no real effective leader as I see it…."
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