Skye Jethani gets it right on Evangelical Political Involvement, and …

I think Skye’s anecdotal observations about Evangelicals and politics will match those of many – especially those who live in highly educated areas of the northern half of the country. Where I live in Florida, it’s quite a different story. My anecdotal information comes from TV-broadcast services of local Evangelical congregations (mostly Southern Baptist and Assemblies of God): I hear them address abortion, homosexuality, and Obamacare frequently.
I think that many Evangelical leaders, along with Mainline Protestant and Catholic leaders, forget that a lot of Christian formation (for better or worse) doesn’t happen in congregations any more. It happens in cars and kitchens as people listen to the radio. Where a church member may hear his own pastor preach for 30 to sixty minutes, he or she will often hear several hours of radio sermons during drive time. And again, my anecdotal information, in a region with several Protestant radio stations and two Catholic stations, suggests that this is where the data mounts for wedge-issue obsession. This is especially true during talk-radio formats. I imagine that fear of “the homosexual agenda” – or whatever the fear of the day might be – holds more listeners and raises more donations for radio-TV than many other less inflammatory subjects. It might have the opposite effect in a local church over the long term.
But I agree with Skye that there is also a huge perception problem that comes from mainstream TV news going to the same short list of religious right spokespeople (usually spokesmen). We need to do more than complain about this; we need to put forward some better alternatives. Those voices will have to have the courage to differ graciously but clearly with the religious right. Doing so will cost them – money if they’re broadcasters or writers, parishioners if they’re pastors. But it needs to be done.