Apparently the Republican party is going to try and energize the evangelical vote again for the 2014 elections. Apparently the problem is that the old groups like the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition have either disappeared or have diminished clout and as a result the numbers of evangelicals who vote has declined, with only a third of the estimated 89 million turning out in 2012.
The GOP is planning to ask evangelical churches to more directly ask their members to vote for them, defying IRS rules that prohibit direct solicitation of that type and setting up the possibility of a challenge to their tax-exempt status. Indeed as the Pulpit Sunday movement indicates, they relish the opportunity of being challenged by the IRS because not only will that enable them to play the religious victim card, a role they love only too well, it will also test the constitutionality of that regulation and it may be overthrown.
But apart from that, it is not clear what message the GOP can use to energize these voters. Opposition to gay rights and same-sex marriage, issues that worked so well for them as recently as 2004, is no longer a potent weapon and may well be a loser, given current trends. When it comes to opposition to abortion, they have won some victories in the courts and state legislatures restricting women’s right to choose and thus a sense of grievance about them will be hard to generate. If they had lost the Hobby Lobby case today, that could have been used to cry oppression but opposition to contraception is at best a dicey proposition given that an overwhelming majority of people use some form of it.
I suspect that what will be done is to haul out the vague charge that Christianity is under attack and that religious liberty is being threatened in some unspecified way and make vague allusions to Obama’s allegedly Muslim-influenced childhood and suggest that he is open to allowing creeping Sharia law in the US. There is nothing like a sense of victimhood, even if it has little basis in reality, to fire up the religious.