TheDC Interview: Pete Wehner on the Christian challenge to the Tea Party in his new book

A new book by two former top aides to President George W. Bush is out Tuesday, called, “City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era.” In the 176-page book, Michael Gerson and Pete Wehner make a case for how Christians should think about and participate in politics in the modern age, arguing that the days of the Moral Majority are gone and a new Christian politics is taking shape.

The DC sat down with Wehner Monday at a coffee shop in Dupont Circle to ask him whether he and Gerson are on the same page as the Tea Party movement, and whether the Bush presidency is responsible in part for creating the current backlash against big government.

TheDC: So the first question I wanted to ask you was who did you write this book for?

Pete Wehner:
We wrote it for Christians who care about public policy and public life, and share the same questions and concerns and interests that we do, which is people of faith, people of the Christian faith who care about politics. And what ought the relationship be between the two. It’s an important complicated relationship but even broader than that, people who aren’t necessarily people of faith but who are interested in this question too. Which is one that is central to this country and to politics in this country. So I think that was it…but mostly I think Mike and I felt we had something to say and wanted to say it. We felt that this was a good moment to say it because we felt like this was a plastic, fluid moment.

TheDC: Okay I’ll come back to that for sure. Well actually … it sounds like you wrote the book very much with this moment in mind. Because the reason I ask that is there is a lot of stuff on human rights. Which is sort of a discordant note in terms of the current political environment in the conservative movement.

PW: Yeah.

TheDC: Not that they are against it but it’s not on the agenda.

Yeah it’s not central in a way that it would be I think for Mike and for me. We wrote it definitely in part because of the moment. We feel like the old model of social engagement that dominated Christianity and politics for the last 25 years, the Religious Right, is fading away. Some of its leaders have literally faded away or passed from the scene, like D. James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell. Others who are older and are stepping back a bit. Something is going to emerge in its place and we wanted to give our thoughts on shaping that. At the same time Mike and I feel like these are just perennial questions and every generation of Christians that care about politics needs to think through and revisit these old questions and apply them to contemporary circumstances and that was part of what drove the book too.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Larry-Bernard/5019492 Larry Bernard

    This book fails (and this interview fails) Because it didn’t understand Beck’s Christian Critique for the Tea Party and etc movement.

    Its invoking the call from god to SELF governance. And the call to taking away from government the powers which inhibit our ability to self govern

    • flips

      Nothing like a Mormon to tell Christians how to think.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Larry-Bernard/5019492 Larry Bernard

        Flips: Its not an invalid Christian doctrine… so what if a Mormon reminds Christians of it

      • gatortarian

        Mormons are Christians.

  • rainmaker1145

    Christian Republicans are like progressives – they just can’t stand not telling us how we have to live our lives instead of just creating an example and moving on. Then they can’t resist calling Democrats hypocrites for doing the same thing – but not without the benefit of God’s guidance.

    • flips

      Why do you hate God, rain?

    • truebearing

      Christian Republicans are like Progressives? That is one of the single dumbest comments I’ve read in a long time.

      Progressives are fundamentally dishonest. They are neo-communists who use the name Progressive to hide their true ideological intentions.

      Christians are among the MOST honest people in this country, and don’t hide behind aliases.

      Progressives are obsessed with political power, which is their god.

      Christians do not put politics over their faith, nor do they want a theocracy like the Muslims, or the atheological Progressives/Marxists (Marxism is a religion) Worldly power is not the goal of Christianity.

      Progressives believe in the government using things like eugenics to reduce the population. They believe in the government having the power to sterilize women, deny health care based on comparative effectiveness theory, force abortions, take money from hard working Americans and give it to other countries, and the list goes on.

      Christian conservatives believe in small government, low taxes, individual freedom, and a government that is accountable to the people. Do you have a problem with that?

      Progressives are Statists and want all power to reside in an international government, which means our democratic republic would at best, be reduced to political theater.

      The Christian conservatives want to preserve this country, with the freedoms and prosperity it has always enjoyed, and with our national sovereignty intact.

      Progressives don’t believe in our constitution and want to eliminate the 1st and 2nd amendments as soon as they can.

      The Christian right supports both amendments unceasingly.

      Since you seem to have a bigoted attitude towards Christianity, something you obviously know nothing about, let me point out that our constitution was written by Christians. The protection built into the constitution that prevents the government from establishing an official church was put there by the framers, who were Christians.

      You apparently don’t know who the Progressives are and you certainly malign Christian conservatives from a foundation of pure ignorance.

  • sorebird

    Smaller government Mike, that is the moral answer, the constitution Mike, the founders had it correct, local government and local eduction, it wasn’t the locals that took prayer out of our schools and stamped out religion, it was the federal government that did that. People in Ca should not be able to dictate what people in Ohio want taught in their schools or what laws they follow.

    Ca., is getting ready to vote for Jerry Brown, no way they should be able to tell me what is taught in my local school.

    • gatortarian

      Exactly correct sorebird. I also never remember reading where Jesus told his followers to rob people so they can use the money to help the poor.

    • PolyIndependent

      Should campaign financing from groups out of state be blocked in the case of senate and house seats?

      • gatortarian

        I have always felt that any entity should be treated like an individual as far as campaign spending goes. If I can only give a senate candidate $2000 than McDonalds or the NRA should also be limited to $2000. If they want to spend that money out of state it’s fine by me.

        • PolyIndependent

          Actually, I was commenting on sorebird’s statement about CA not controlling what schools in OH do.