AW: As a political conservative, where has evangelicalism failed in your opinion?
MT: Obviously, evangelicals were mostly late to the resistance against abortion on demand. Too many, I think, confused it with birth control, or understood it as a mostly Catholic issue. That has mostly corrected, and evangelicals seem pretty solidly pro-life, at least in sentiment, today. A more recent failure was the late entrance into battle in defense of marriage. We should have seen it coming decades ago, and of course some did. The easy acceptance of widespread divorce, starting many decades ago, almost certainly presaged the same-sex marriage movement, but few understood that, and maybe many don’t even today.
AW: What is the extent of evangelicalism’s influence both politically and within conservatism? Where are we strong? Where are we weak?
MT: The Tea Party movement likely would be impossible without evangelicals, millions of whom are small business owners and entrepreneurs who innately understood the threat to prosperity and freedom posed by unlimited Big Government. Evangelicals provide much if not most of the conservative populism in America today. Where evangelicals have failed is to have meaningful influence in non-conservative media, which continues to treat evangelicals as oddities and aliens.
AW: There’s been a lot of talk about young evangelicals no longer being Republican/Conservative. Do you see concern about that within the Republican leadership?
MT: I don’t know about Republican leadership. But certainly conservatives in Washington, especially the thinktanks, are starting to understand the threat the Evangelical Left poses, especially among young evangelical college students. The thinktanks are starting to market economic arguments to young evangelicals. But I think we’re still failing to offer a comprehensive theory of the state to young evangelicals. This partly explains the exploding popularity of Anabaptist beliefs, as defined by John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas.
AW: What, in your opinion, is the greatest threat to Conservatism?
MT: The collapse of widespread orthodox Christian faith in America would have a calamitous impact on conservatism. But I’m not worried that will happen. An ongoing government takeover of health care, if Obamacare fully succeeds, certainly poses a serious threat. We can be hopeful that Americans will wake up. Many obvioiusly already have.
AW: If you could meet any historical figure in political history, who and why?
MT: It would have to be George Washington. He was such a model of self-restraint in his theory of governance. Effective American limited government may have never succeeded without him. He also likely was a believing Christian, of the Tidewater Anglican, Enlightenment influenced variety.