If you hear you can’t be a Christian and vote for a Democrat, it isn’t true. I think it is possible. I don’t know many evangelical Christians today who vote for Democrats. The same is true for most evangelical churches, they are almost exclusively Republican, the so-called “Christian party.”
But recently I did answer an email and state my “apology” for being a Democrat. I am not trying to convince anybody, just setting out my personal views which most every other evangelical thinks are wrong. But I am not “wrong” because I am ignorant and have not thought about it. I have tried to develop a careful position rooted in my faith. You may disagree on where I come out, that’s fine. Do your own homework, make a list of issues as I have done, then decide where the Bible and your faith lead you. If you do that you’ve satisfied me, for I think our faith should inform our politics, not the other way around.
So, to my Republican friends who can’t imagine how a person might be a Christian and vote for a Democrat, (and to my three Democrat friends who are hiding under the pews in our churches) I offer the following as my own stance of personal political apologetics:
Now I don’t believe there is a “Christian party” here in the US. Neither of them satisfies me as far as “Biblical Christian Values” go. On one issue one party is closer, on another the other party is closer to Christ-like values as I see them and on many issues neither party is Christian. And I admit that on some issues there is no “Christian” stance at all, it is a matter of personal opinion and God has nothing more to say on it than eating Jello or pudding. I often vote democratic because my Christian conscience demands it. Like my Republican friends claim their “Christian worldview” demands they vote Republican, my own reading of the Scripture and history often takes me the opposite way.
I admit that I find affinity with Republicans on a few issues like Free Trade for example. On this issue I often fall in with the Republicans, and disagree with the protectionist inclinations of many Democrats.
I also find myself often a fiscal conservative and thus I am usually closer to republican rhetoric. I admit feely there have been periods where Democrats have squandered money ( I think they pick more noble causes on which to squander it than Republicans). I believe it is unwise to go into debt to live high now then make future generations pay the bill—whether to pay for welfare, for a war in Iraq, or for a tax cut giveaway to the wealthy.
I have serious and deep moral reservations about abortion. On that issue I fit better with Republicans and find myself often estranged from fellow Democrats who claim to be the protectors of the weak against the strong. I can find few things weaker to protect than a fetus. I think abortion is like the environment—both the parties took the wrong side given their stated values. Democrats should be the protectors of the weak—the fetus, and Republicans should be the protectors of individual rights and the strong rich interests.
If I was a one-issue voter and abortion was the only issue I’d vote Republican. But I have other issues to consider, and I honestly don’t think the Republicans actually deliver much on this issue…what they deliver most is rhetoric. I suspect most evangelicals tilt Republican on abortion alone. However even if the Republicans win on abortion, where will it get us? Republicans have no hope of outlawing abortion in this nation or the world. If Republicans get what they want (overturning Roe v. Wade) it would merely turn abortion back for the states to decide. Where would that get us? The best bet is that 95% of the people in the USA would have abortion readily available and 5% would be restricted.
So, while I believe the matter is of serious moral consequences, on the practical side I see little difference in the outcome no matter which party is in power. Christians do not kill our unborn. I like the way Rick Warren puts the question: “How soon can we extend human rights to unborn children?” He gets it. We are in a major effort to persuade the rest of the nation that human rights need to be extended to life that is not recognized as life.
But on many other issues I find affinity with Democrats like concerning the poor in this country. Caring for the poor is not an option for anyone who takes a serious reading of the Bible, it is a demand and even a test of whether I am really a Christian. I think Democrats have done a better job trying to do this than Republicans. Sure, they have not produced perfect programs, almost all of them are flawed as badly as my local church’s pitiful attempts to run Sunday school or evangelism programs. But an imperfect work is better than no work at all.
I know most evangelicals say, “This is what the church should be doing.” I say please! Show me where! What church does this in a serious way? There are a few, but it is a cup when an ocean is needed. Most churches gather money to spend it on themselves, not the poor. But even if we were willing to forgo our new building to care for the poor and pay the bills for all those aged parents in nursing homes (Oh, you didn’t know that Medicaid pays most of those?) Democrats help me fulfill this command of Christ far better than most Republicans do, even if there is waste in the system.
I’m with the Democrats on minimum wage too. Generally the impulses to raise the minimum wage come from Democrats not Republicans.
I’m with the Democrats on feminism too—though most Republicans now pretend they’ve been there all the time. I think women should not be denied their rights because they are women. They should get equal pay for equal work and should have access to the same jobs men can do. For 30 + years Republicans have put up resistance on progress for women, and their recent conversion doesn’t impress me much. Sorry, Republicans, can't give y'all credit there.
So, when I seriously look at the Bible’s whole value system then apply it to the political parties today, I find that in my view the Democrats are a bit more Biblical than the Republicans. Sure, I dislike the secularists and anti-religion folk in my party and I’ll do what I can to beat them back into the bushes. Now I have voted for republicans in the past like Brian Kemp, republican for Secretary of State or Kira Willis, a libertarian for State School Superintendent, both in 2010 election, but when I go into the voting booth and vote for a Democrat it is not in spite of my faith but because of it.
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