WASHINGTON BUREAU: Terry Mattingly's religion column for 1/07/09.
It was the kind of quote that is catnip for politicos and scribes inside the Washington Beltway.
"What Americans would have found absolutely intolerable only a few years ago, a majority now not only tolerates but celebrates," proclaimed Paul M. Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation.
Then came the statement that set pundits to chattering for weeks.
"I no longer believe that there is a moral majority," proclaimed Weyrich, in a 1999 epistle that made many liberals cheer and some conservatives grumble.
It helps to understand that Weyrich — who died shortly before Christmas — was the strategist who coined the "moral majority" label for the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his new grassroots network. Weyrich urged conservative intellectuals and donors to build think tanks, political-action committees and lobbying groups — mirroring strategies on the left. Above all, he helped lead efforts to convince conservative Catholics, Protestants and Jews that, when it came to issues of faith and family, they could find unity in their shared cultural values.
"The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture," he argued. "The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics."
Read the entire article on the Terry Mattingly website (new window will open).