At Slate, Amy Sullivan tells us that the "Christian Right" is shifting to the left, over issues such as global warming and third world poverty. This "trend" revealed itself to her when Republican Senator Rick Santorum was a no-show at a forum given at Christian "Messiah College" in Pennsylvania. Apparently the global warming scare film "The Great Warming", narrated by Keanu Reeves and Alanis Morissette was a big hit at the forum, as was Santorum's opponent, Democrat Bob Casey. And Santorum was ill-treated in absentium over his position on the environment. All this leads Ms. Sullivan to conclude that Christians are poised to desert the Republican party over its environmental policies.
You see this a lot, fabricating a trend out of a couple of data points (in this case, a single data point). But honestly, just how representative is what happened at Messiah College to the general relationship between Republicans, Democrats, and Christian Evangelicals? Not very, I think.
First, remember that Bob Casey is not just a Democrat, he is a pro-life democrat. The list of high profile pro-life democrats is pretty short, there is Bob Casey and . . . . well, pretty much there is just Bob Casey. The Democratic Party as a whole doesn't share his views on these sorts of issues; anybody besides me remember when his dad--also fiercely pro-life--was barred from speaking at the 1992 Dems convention because of these views?
Then there is the audience. Let us not forget that college kids are a lot dumber then people generally (sorry kids, but in 20 years you will probably agree with me), and also a lot less likely to vote. I doubt that these kids' moms and dads share their opinions on most things, and (fortunately for us all) kids do tend to grow up. And please note that neither Ms. Morissette nor Mr. Reeves are particularly big hits with the Christian community at large.
And, frankly, the notion that Christians are poised to support candidates who favor gay marriage and abortion-on-demand because of global warming is pretty silly. Al Gore and a bunch of college kids notwithstanding, the environment isn't that big an issue with people. Yes, if you ask people if global warming is an important, a lot of them will say yes. But most people don't favor immediate government action on the issue. And when you lump the environment in with issues like jobs and health care and ask people to prioritize, the environment is barely in the top ten. There is no reason to believe that Christians are more likely to be environmentalists than the average voter (in fact, one of the canards of the lefties is that Christians think the Rapture is right around the corner, and so couldn't care less about the environment).
So, Ms. Sullivan's thesis is--basically--that Christians are prepared to support democrats with positions they abhor on issues they care passionately about, because the democrats also support issues that barely register with them. Maybe, but I kinda doubt it.