The Religious Right is down. But not out. Leaders are making one last desperate push to deliver the election for John McCain. If he loses, the myth of their unstoppable force will take a body blow from which it may not recover.
Reporters will dutifully report whatever spin the evangelical mullahs dictate. But an Obama win will break their winning streak.
It will show that when the going got tough, the fundamentalists weren't as tough as their talk. It will show that all their threats, all their dire predictions, all the lies and innuendos weren't enough to keep their flock together. They couldn't keep their young from voting for the man they so successfully branded as "the other." They couldn't get out their core vote.
A McCain loss may cause some people to wonder if the fundamentalist bosses control as many voters as they claim. It might even cause moderate Republicans to try taking their party back.
It may allow other religious and spiritual voices to be heard. It might encourage reporters to pay a little attention to the great bulk of evangelicals, the millions who aren't part of the Religious Right and never have been.
The stakes are high. Christian radio pastors in Ohio began praying last week for God to help voters "avoid wickedness" and help deliver "electoral miracles on Election Day."
Millions of evangelicals viewed videos at their churches this Sunday urging them to get out the NObama vote, say evangelical leaders. Christian television will be haranguing viewers, prophesying doom delivered by Divine express until every poll has closed. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University has canceled classes on Election Day and will provide buses to the polls. The school has also encouraged out-of-state students to switch their registration to Virginia.
The Christian Anti-Defamation Commission has posted a series of videos on its site and on YouTube called "7 Reasons Barack Obama is not a Christian." The commission accuses Obama of "subtle diabolical deceit in saying he is a Christian" because he believes that people can be saved through other faiths.
Gerald Harris, editor of the Georgia Baptist newspaper Christian Index, warns that an Obama win will bring "a new ideology" featuring the idea that nothing except intolerance is morally wrong. Harris foresees a loss of tax exempt status for churches, as well as ridicule and even persecution for American Christians.
Janet Porter of Faith2Action claims in a column on the WorldNetDaily website that a person cannot be a Christian and vote for Obama.
To all those who name the name of Christ who plan to willfully disobey him by voting for Obama, take warning," she wrote. "Not only is our nation in grave danger, according to the word of God, so are you.
Porter said this election is about "obeying God."
Obama-Biden are pro-death. McCain-Palin are pro-life," she wrote. "Now choose life that you and your children may live.
Catholic leaders are also getting their licks in before it's too late.
The Boston Globe reports that
New York's Cardinal Edward M. Egan published a picture last week of a 20-week-old fetus in his newspaper column and declared that abortion is a crime "no less heinous than what was perpetrated by Hitler and Stalin."
In Dallas and Fort Worth, two bishops jointly declared that voting for a politician who supports abortion rights is "morally impermissible." In Pennsylvania, a bishop made a surprise visit to a parish politics forum, declared, "I own this building," and dismissed the bishops' own voting guide that says Catholics are not single-issue voters.
Over the last few weeks, more than 60 Catholic bishops, articulating their traditional views in ever stronger language, have urged voters to make abortion their top priority in an election dominated by the nation's economic turmoil.
All these efforts don't mean that McCain will win. But I'm sad to say that they probably do mean the culture wars aren't even nearly over.
Christine Wicker is the author of The Fall of the Evangelical Nation: The Surprising Crisis Inside the Church. Her website is www.christinewicker.com.