In this election season, as well as the past several years in general, much is being made of the Christian Right and their effect on politics and government. The “religious right” has been decried as a monolithic bloc that votes on the orders of religious leaders and as a “branch office” of the Republican Party.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Instead flocking to the Republican Party to grasp for political power, Christians are being pushed out of the Democratic Party. As I grew up in the 1970s, the Democratic Party had a solid lock on southern politics. My family, as well as most other southerners, considered themselves strong Democrats. In my home state of Georgia, most elections were decided by the Democratic primary. The general election against a Republican challenger was merely a formality (assuming that there even was a Republican challenger).
What happened? Ronald Reagan forced us to take a hard look at the Democratic Party that we thought we knew. We found that many of the planks of the Democratic platform did not match our personal beliefs.
The Christian Coalition, founded by Pat Robertson, was as much a result of this awakening as an instigator of it. The Christian Coalition’s primary mission was to put out information on how candidates had voted on issues in the past. Incumbents, especially liberal ones, cried foul when their track records were made public. Constituents often found that what their representatives said and how they voted were often dramatically different.
The truth is that today there is no bloc of Christian voters who look to evangelical leaders, such as Dr. James Dobson, to tell us who to vote for. Church leaders are prevented by IRS regulations from endorsing candidates (although they can preach on specific issues). If they violate these rules, the church can lose its tax-exempt status.
Christian voters are individuals who look at each individual candidate and make up our own minds. We look at issues that are important to us. For that reason, we are referred to as “values voters,” although in reality all voters are “values voters.” Each voter has different values and priorities that they look for candidates to address.
In the past few decades, we have found that the Republican Party espouses values most similar to our own. The Democratic Party is often hostile to many beliefs that we hold dear.
One of the most important values that Christian voters consider is national security. This is a basic duty of the federal government, and, especially in wartime, is a high priority. We want the government to protect our families from terrorists. We want the government to efficiently prosecute the war in order to make our country safe and to make it less likely that our small children will one day have to fight and die against Islamic extremists. Democrats have shown repeatedly that they are unwilling to admit that we are at war with Islamic Extremists, much less to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion.
Similarly, we oppose the income redistribution policies of the Democrats. We give generously to charities and our local churches, but do not like “forced giving” to the government. Government social programs are notoriously inefficient and prone to fraud. The also rob people of the will to work and create unforeseen consequences, such as the rise in single parent families. The Bible tells us “if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If someone does not have the ability to work, then they deserve our charity, but if they do have the ability to work, then they should be productive members of society.
Currently, entitlement spending, including Medicaid and social security, make up over 60% of the federal budget. In contrast, defense spending, even while we are at war, makes up only 19%. As baby boomers leave the work force, fewer workers are supporting more and more Americans through entitlements. This is not sustainable in the future and unless we change, the federal budget will drown within a sea of entitlements within our lifetimes.
Gay rights is another area of disagreement between Christians and the Democrats. Most Christians are not like Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, which teaches that God hates homosexuals. We believe that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). God loves us all and desires that we follow Him and accept His forgiveness (John 3:16). Neither do we seek to ban homosexuality or persecute homosexuals.
On the other hand, we do not support the movement to legalize homosexual marriage. Traditional marriages provide vital stability for childrearing and are the foundation of our society. Numerous studies have shown that gay unions lack this stability and that children need both male and female role models.
With respect to affirmative action, Christians believe that there is “neither slave nor free” (Galatians 3:28, Colossians 3:11), implying that all men are equal in the eyes of God. We believe that, as Martin Luther King said, that a man “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
Abortion is considered to be the cornerstone issue of the religious right. Democrats vehemently defend the right to abortion as “a woman’s right to choose” and oppose any restrictions on it. Democrats opposed laws that require parental notification when teens get abortions, that would ban the barbaric partial birth abortion procedure, and some, such as Barack Obama, have voted in support of policies that would allow living babies to be born and left to die without medical treatment. Bill Clinton even sought to silence pro-life protesters by invoking the RICO law used to prosecute mobsters.
On the other hand, scientific advances make it harder than ever to deny the humanity and life of unborn babies. First, ultrasounds allowed parents to see a shadowy view of their baby’s movement, then, more recently, three dimensional ultrasound technology was introduced that even allows portraits of unborn babies. We can now see babies reacting to stimuli, and even smiling, while still within the womb. These images give lie to the claim that a fetus is nothing more than a mass of tissue. If an unborn baby is alive, then abortion is murder.
Through movement away from Christian values on these and other issues, the Democratic Party has alienated Christian voters. I would really like to have a viable choice between two candidates who share my views, but as long as the one party continues to nominate candidates that oppose my beliefs, then I’ll have to continue to vote my conscience. I don’t consider myself to be a Republican, but a Christian and a conservative. I, like many other Christians in the United States, look at the both the candidate and the issues and make up my own mind.