Hanna Rosin has written a lot about the mash-up of young evangelicals and politics, a topic I keep returning to as the 2008 presidential campaign heats up. Well, I just came across a 31-month-old article Rosin wrote about evangelicals finding a home on Capitol Hill, and, though it bears mainly stale news masked by good writing, it’s worth blogging about because the lede focuses on a regular reader of The God Blog who happens to work at Pepperdine and attend my church with her husband.
Lyric Hassler talks about her Christian rock phase the way some of us talk about crushes on Sean Cassidy, or acid-wash jeans, or the hundreds of hours we wasted memorizing Pink Floyd lyrics. “Uchhhhhh, embarrassing,” she says. The gaudy soundtrack of the “Christian ghetto” she lived in as a teenager. Lyric the high school “Jesus freak,” chastising her church youth group for wasting time on frivolous pizza parties, ignoring any TV that wasn’t “The 700 Club.”
“It just makes me wince,” she says now that her ghetto self is long gone, now that she’s made it here, to Washington, to the languid Friday afternoon tea time in a congressional cafeteria, to her starched white blouse and a stint on the presidential campaign and a husband who works in the Senate, to a salon of what she calls “Christian intellectuals.”
She is still the same Lyric Hassler, still young (26), still a Christian, still evangelical enough that some of her colleagues on the Bush campaign found her piety “a little weird,” she says. But the kind of weird that blends in without too much trouble. “I’ve come a long way, in terms of Christian maturity,” she says.” I’m not afraid of what the secular world might do to me.”
“Uccch.” It’s the sound of a movement shoving aside its past like so many pairs of braces. The conservative Christian political movement that burst on Washington in the ‘80s, the activists with their aborted-fetus placards and their heady plans to colonize school boards and their here-and-now visions of the Apocalypse, their early years are now a source of embarrassment to themselves.
Amen to them. No more thundering sermons on Wiccans and floods and child molesters, caught on tape and leaked by a political opponent. No more pronouncements about “signs” showing up in California. No more horrors from the Book of Revelation.
It’s what Ralph Reed dreamed of, and now it’s finally here. Christians in politics are ready to trade in their guerrilla fatigues for business suits and a day job. This year evangelicals in public office have finally become so numerous that they’ve blended in to the permanent Washington backdrop, a new establishment that has absorbed the local habits and mores.