Christian conservatives ‘cheapest date in American politics’?

David French, a Columbia, Tenn.-based conservative commentator who toyed with running for president earlier this year, told a Southern Baptist gathering that Christian conservatives should cease being “the cheapest date in American politics” by always backing Republicans, reports The Tennessean.

The National Review staff writer …called this year’s election cycle a “colossal, miserable, disgusting failure” with nomination of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but added “in American history it’s been worse.”

While the Columbia resident dissected how the election wound up in such a gloomy state, he also laid out a path for social conservatives Saturday at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s post conference in Nashville. The morning event delved into the presidential election, religious liberty and the future of the church.

“We cannot tie ourselves to one political party,” French said.

He recounted the despair he felt when people would say it was his moral obligation to support Trump — a man French described as someone who mocks the disabled and stokes racial division — because Trump may appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who are sympathetic to social conservative values.

“It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen in my entire life,” French said. “That’s what happens when you hitch your wagon completely to one side. Whatever scraps they will give you will be better than the nothingness that you get from the other side.”

But it goes beyond political parties. Social conservatives can stop feeding the rage that has fueled the election, quit deferring the fight for religious liberty to politicians and lawyers and not let Fox News set the priorities, French said. They also need to figure out how to tell their own story to the broader culture instead of just talking to one another, he said.

The morning sessions at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center followed the two-day ERLC National Conference for the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm. Many of the evangelical Christian leaders who shared the stage with French on Saturday looked to the future, talking about the role of Christian voters and what happens after Election Day.

…One of the biggest concerns for Russell Moore, who heads the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is how the cultural and political climate will impact the future witness of the church, especially as it becomes increasingly multi-ethnic, multiracial and multi-generational… Moore said politics has become like its own religion in America, and it impacts how people connect with their church and communities. It makes it easy for Christians to become a tool for whatever is politically useful at the moment, he said.

“Part of what we have to do is to dethrone politics as a religion and as a source of identity while at the same time remaining engaged in our responsibilities as citizens, in communities and neighbors, which includes the political process,” Moore said.