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.