What’s Next For The Religious Right?

According to Damon Linker, the religious right is “finished” and its remaining followers “have been reduced to playing defense.” He asks, “What will come next for these voters, now that the original religious right is fading out?”:

The first and most likely development is one that’s already underway: A stepping back from national ambitions across a range of issues to a narrower emphasis on state-level initiatives that restrict access to abortion. This is a shrewd move, politically speaking. Thanks to advances in ultrasound technology, public opinion on abortion is likely to remain deeply conflicted, with strong support for reproductive freedom coupled with a strong moral aversion to both late-term abortions and the termination of pregnancies for what many judge to be frivolous reasons.

The focus on passing legislation in conservative-leaning states, meanwhile, allows the remnants of the religious right to maximize the impact of their limited resources. The end result, at least in the short-to-medium term, is likely to be greater ideological polarization across the country, with abortion harder than ever to procure in some states and others proudly trumpeting their absolute commitment to reproductive freedom.

Another possibility he entertains is that “the next generation of religious conservatives will take a different path, withdrawing from politics altogether”:

There is already some evidence that younger religious conservatives are more inclined than their parents to look with suspicion on politicized faith. If this inclination persists, perhaps further encouraged by increasing disappointment with the available political alternatives in the United States, it could drive religiously devout conservatives away from activist engagement entirely.