WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The “Christianists” Aren’t Taking Over This Week – Via Meadia
The “Christianists” Aren’t Taking Over This Week
September 18, 2011
Walter Russell Mead
For decades now, shocked lefty journalists have gingerly ventured into the dark American interior, emerging with terrifying tales of “Christianist” plots to hijack American democracy and install theocratic rule. There’s an endless appetite for these stories on the secular left, and the fact that none of these Christianists dictatorships ever appear doesn’t seem to diminish the credulity with which each new “revelation” is greeted by the easily spooked.
Focus on the Family was very recently one of the most feared organizations of the allegedly all powerful Christian Right, but as the cash-strapped organization makes more staff cutbacks and donations fall, the paranoia once invested in this group looks pretty dumb. The Christian Post reports:
Focus on the Family’s budget for fiscal year 2008-2009 was $160 million, which came down to $138 million in 2009-2010. For the fiscal year 2010-2011 ending Sept. 30, it further shrunk to $105 million, and now officials project it will receive donations of only $90 million to $95 million.
The layoffs in the organization founded by influential Christian right leader James Dobson in 1977 resulted from decreased donations due to the economic downturn. “Long ago I suppose there was a time when we had fat to trim, but we’ve moved through that to muscle, sinew, bone – and now we’re scraping out marrow,” [Vice President Gary] Schneeberger said.
The rise and fall of Focus on the Family is not surprising. Ralph Reed’s Christian Coalition and Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority followed similar paths. The long history of evangelical America is full of organizations and individual leaders who rise quickly to prominence and then quickly fade. These trees do not grow to the sky.