November 28, 2006

That conservative evangelical voter

Immediately after the recent election, there was some talk that evangelicals had possibly stayed home or perhaps voted against Republicans. With a little distance, we now know that some 70% of white evangelicals voted Republican, making them one of the groups most consistent with their 2004 voting patterns. Other groups saw substantive GOP losses, but not white evangelicals.

I continue to puzzle over this issue. How, I wonder, can evangelicals who emphasize "Biblical values" vote for people who have allowed and even endorsed torture? How can they still support people like Tom Delay when there is ample evidence of his corruption?

Mainstream Baptists points to this insightful essay that may offer the best take on it I have read. Here are a few key paragraphs:
[Conservative columnist Maggie] Gallagher's pithy commentary raises an intriguing question: If the killing fields in Iraq, the Republican Party paying lip service to their agenda, and the GOP's ethics breakdown didn't dissuade the "values voters" from straying from the fold, what ever could cause them to desert the Republican Party?

While he doesn't speak directly to this question, Ken Connor, a Christian conservative leader who has consistently spoken out against this eras ethically-challenged GOP leaders and the evangelicals who support and enable them, lays part of the blame for the GOP's defeat at the doorstep of Christian evangelical leaders: "It is clear that Christian conservative leaders contributed to the Republican defeat, and in the process they've lost credibility," Connor wrote in a post-election commentary titled "Defending the Indefensible: The Road to Defeat."

Connor, the former president of the Family Research Council, who currently heads the Center for a Just Society, wrote that "When Tom DeLay's excesses were exposed, Christian political groups closed ranks to support him. When congressional Republicans put on their phony legislative parade, Christian political leaders were willing accomplices. When the Mark Foley scandal hit, Christian groups faulted everyone but Republican leaders. Why have prominent Christian organizations and leaders behaved in this way? The sad reality is that many have been seduced by the Washington, D.C., political culture. They have identified themselves so closely with persons and parties that they have lost sight of principle. By excusing the behavior of the Republican Party, Christian conservatives set the party up for the 2006 defeat."

Cal Thomas, one of the country's most widely syndicated columnists, maintained in a recent report that intoxication with political power "often dulls the senses to morality and 'values.'" In a story titled "Where do conservative Christians go from here?" Thomas argued that the "unholy alliance between people of faith and politicians ... often ends in compromise on the part of the faithful and the cynical harvesting of their votes with little offered in return." The case of Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), who lost his seat to a Democrat, is particular instructive said Thomas. Here is someone who "cheat[ed] on his wife and allegedly abus[ed] his mistress, Cynthia Ore, [yet] he still gets an 85 percent approval rating from the Focus on the Family Action organization. The delicious irony here is that he might have earned a 100 percent rating had he voted for the Marriage Protection amendment, which he supported.""

21 comments:

volfan007 said...

i will tell you why most white christians voted republican and will probably continue to vote that way in the future. three things:

1. abortion.....the republicans are against it for the most part....dems are for it for the most part.

2. gay agenda....same reason as #1

3. taxes...same reason as #1.

then, you add to that mix that dems are...for the most part....for gun control, and you see why we vote republican most of the time...even though we are independent....i am. especially in the south gun control is a biggee.

basically, i am not sold out to any party really straitening this world out. no man will do what this world really needs...nor can any man do what this world really needs. there will be only one King who will be able to do for this world what it needs, and He will come one day.


from the hills of tn,

volfan007

Streak said...

And as i have said, the stance on taxation is irresponsible and hard to support from a Christian or even just social responsibility standpoint.

Gun rights? Whatever. Not only are there numerous democrats who are pro-gun rights, but I have real questions as to why evangelicals are so pro-gun.

As for abortion and gay rights, I don't respect the latter, but have some respect for the former. But in either case, the reality is that this voting Republican has put evangelicans in the position where they have consistently voted to support torture, a mismanaged war, and a level of corruption that has shocked even Washington insiders. Evangelicals would have some credibility had they spoken out on those issues, but as this article reiterates, they did not. They rallied around Tom Delay and were conspicuously silent on the issue of torture.

As I have argued on this blog numerous times, if christian values aren't opposed to torture, then there are no christian values.

volfan007 said...

i can be against taxes for the simple reasons that i dont like to have half my salary going out to pay for some lazy drunk or drug addict to lay around all day. nor do i care for the spending abuses of congress....with our tax money...hard earned tax money.

there is nothing in the bible that says that christians should be for taxes. my church does much to help the poor and needy in our society and around the world. govt. should not be in the charity business. and, there's nothing unchristians with that sentiment.

we are against gun control because we dont like big bro. trying to control things. we like to feel safe in our homes..... and, we like to hunt...and, we dont want peta and tree huggers trying to take that away from us. also, one day, we might have to be ready to defend our freedom once again. what will we do it with if all the guns have been taken away by big bro.?


hope this helps you to understand.

volfan007

Streak said...

The fact that you don't like to pay taxes is not really that good of a reason. The fact that you don't like to use tax money to help people is even worse. But then again, why not? Let's just let the drug addicts and drunks die on their own. I think Jesus said something about giving to Caesar and certainly little to help your little tax revolt. You still haven't answered my previous contention that taxes also go to pay for hospitals, roads, sewers, etc. But if it makes you sleep better to just decide that all taxation is bad, then fine. But don't justify it as an evangelical christian.

As for gun control, like I said, whatever. I don't have a problem with hunting, and I actually don't have a problem with guns for defense. What I do have a problem with is the NRA being completely unwilling to compromise on any of these things (handgun proliferation, for example) or cop killer bullets. Nor do I see anything in the Bible that reinforces your stance on guns.

All of that aside, you still haven't answered my big question. I understand the homophobia and the stance against abortion. I even understand the misguided anti tax rant. What I don't understand is the continued support for torture, this horrible war, and the corruption of the GOP. And for people concerned about big brother, you might want to check out the supposed evangelical Christian president, because he has strengthened big brother in ways that few have.

In sum, conservative evangelicals have been wrong on most of the big issues of the 20th century. Wrong on women. Wrong on race. Wrong on the environment. Wrong on protection of workers. Now in the 21st, wrong on torture and habeas corpus (things I didn't think christians could get wrong). But if you are absolutely sure you are right on gay rights, by all means, don't look back. Because looking back might instill doubt.

Can't have that.

volfan007 said...

i am for paying my fair share of taxes for roads, sewers, etc. i think the fair share has gone beyond fair share to repressive.

also, concerning drunks and drug addicts and lazy people not working...we christians do reach out to these people....constantly. we have seen many of them get saved and quit drugs and drinking. we do care about thier souls. the govt. should not be into the feeding and clothing business.

concerning war....war is war. its hard and horrible. sometimes it has to be done. evangelicals were against the torture of prisoners...so i really dont see your point on that. but, war is something that has to be done at times. in the ot, God told the israelites to go to war with the canaanites and take over the promised land. God told them to do it. so, i guess war is ok with the Lord when its a just war. also, when King Jesus comes back...He will war against the armies of this world that the anti-christ has gathered together. Jesus will wipe them out....the bible says that the blood will run as high as a horses bridle. that doesnt sound much like the sweet, little manger scene Jesus that so many like to emphasis....now, does it?

about gun control. i never said that it was a biblical thing. where did you get that idea. i said it was a safety and hunting thing...along with the idea of being ready to defend our country thing. you know, minute men....militias....the revolutionary war?

volfan007

Streak said...

Ok. I think you are wrong on taxes, but that is only because I know our taxes are lower than they were in the past. Perhaps your local taxes are higher because our President has slashed federal support for important public safety and health programs (to say nothing of help for the disabled poor) and put more pressure back on the local economies.

As for your explanation of war, that scares me more than Bush. Using the OT to justify war as so many have--from the Puritans to Col. Chivington at Sand Creek. Still doesn't make it right.

And for torture, perhaps you can show me where evangelicals stood up to the President and demanded that he not torture. Because I missed that. Instead, they reelected him for a second term and turned out 70% strong to vote for Republicans who also endorsed or allowed torture. Help me out here. It isn't that evangelicals can't be heard. We hear them all the time about some Ten Commandments idol or because President Bush might have not been harsh enough on the gays or the stem cells--but curiously, we never hear it on poverty and never heard it on torture.

The best conservative evangelicals I heard (besides Tony and Les) were some who just denied that we were torturing. Most just shrugged and looked the other way. The worst said that it was ok because the terrorists we tortured wanted to kill us.

volfan007 said...

voting for pres. bush is kind of a lesser of two evils kind of deal. we vote for bush because he was a lot better than the other choice. a lot of evangelicals are like me as well....i will vote for a pro lifer over a pro choice person anyday....no matter how they stand on the other issues.

also, evangelicals didnt pat anyone on the back for torture. i didnt see any evangelicals shouting hooray for torture....did they? good gracious.

also, my justification for war is right on target, and goes along with the bible. also, it's not just the ot that i referred to. it was also the nt...King Jesus and the battle of armageddon.


volfan007

Streak said...

Ok. All of what I said still stands. Bible based or not, that was the justification for wiping out the Pequots at Mystic, and the Cheyenne at Sand Creek.

As for your voting and torture, you are still wrong. I did see evangelicals making excuses for torture, but you missed my broader point. Tell me where they stood up to Bush and said "we don't torture." You can't, because they didn't. And everyone knows it. They preferred to vote based on abortion and gays and were perfectly content to let Bush continue to torture.

Show me where they stood up. I want to see it.

ubub said...

I would hope that our elected leaders seek solutions in this world for problems of this world.

I have to say that I do not understand the theology nor the Scriptural interpretations that volfan007 is basing his views on.
I guess if I am a single issue voter, my single issue is not abortion but love thy neighbor (even if they are gay).

Anonymous said...

Volfan007, in your first comment you said, "I will tell you why most white Christians voted Republican."

I'm just curious: why do you think most non-white Christians didn't vote Republican?

And, for what it's worth, I don't like how my tax dollars are being spent either: on an immoral and unjust war. Where can I get a tax break for that?

Bootleg Blogger said...

Streak-o,
Interesting that volfan feels license to use the term "we" when referring to "white christians". I have found numerous WC's that voted in varied ways and for quite a range of reasons. One of the strongest driving forces that comes out in many conversations is that of fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of people of different faiths, different sexual orientations, the list goes on. Post 9/11 I had plenty of conversations with middle-americans who were convinced their town could be the next target. We're all called upon to "fear not" and, I would think, act out of faith instead of fear- faith that God can take care of us without us having to bomb another country into the last millenium.

As far as the "end times" and blood up to the horses bridles, I'm amazed at the number of self labeled Christians who look on these times with an impatient anticipation. Where are the tears of Jesus over Jerusalem? I doubt millitant fundamentalists will recognize Christ when he shows any more than the pharisees did in their day.
Later- BB

Wasp Jerky said...

Volfan007,

A few questions:

1) How do you reconcile your desire for low taxes with the 23.3% annual income tax that God imposed on the Israelites (10 percent for the Levites, 10 percent for festivals, and 3.3 percent for the poor)?

2) How do you reconcile your Republican "pro-life" vote with the thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who have died for a war President Bush lied us into? How do you reconcile it with the notion that abortion rates declined more under Bill Clinton than they have under George Bush? How do you reconcile the fact that women below the federal poverty level are nearly 4 1/2 times more likely to have abortions as those with higher income? Are you aware that even if Republicans were able to get Roe v. Wade overturned (still very unlikely), abortion would revert to the state level, at which point at least 20 states (and probably more given what happened in South Dakota a few weeks ago) would still keep abortion legal?

3) You seem to be anti-welfare. Do you realize that corporate welfare is far worse for the economy than "drunks and lazy people"?

4) Do you realize that your interpretation of the book of Revelation is not the interpretation that Christians have historically given to that book?

volfan007 said...

first of all, i am not a republican. i come from a family of yellow dog democrats. i am independent. i vote for the man and how he stands on the issues.

secondly, the iraqi's and kurds who were being raped and tortured and thier family members were being murdered were very glad that we knocked out saddam. so, yall think its more humane to let saddam and his henchmen go raping and murdering?

thirdly, what i said about revelation and Jesus coming back as Judge and King is clearly what the bible teaches. and, God thru out the ot did initiate war...He was fer it at times...when it was just. you just cant get around that...it's true. and, one day Jesus will come back and take over this world and rule from jerusalem.

fourthly, i dont hate gays....never said that i did. i dont fear gays. lol. i dont fear other religions....neither do any other evangelical christians...white or black or asian or whatever....that i know. i only used the term white evangelical christians because thats what streak used. so, i was trying to answer him from that perspective. i am a white, evangelical christian.


fifth, i am not against paying taxes...nor am i against helping those that are truly needy. i would have no problem with the ot method...if i had lived back then. right now, i pay half of my income to some sort of tax...gas tax...income tax...license plates... tax on food, etc. i also give over ten percent of my income to my church. and, at times, i give money and clothing and other things to people in need that i know personally.


well, thats enough of my humble thoughts. i have work to do. it was good to talk to all yall though. i do hope that yall will have a great day.

volfan007

Anonymous said...

This isn't my blog, but if Streak will permit me, I'd like to thank you, volfan007 (a James Bond fan perhaps?), for even being willing to discuss these things. It is important that people who disagree talk to each other--otherwise we are just preaching to the choir. We may not agree or understand each other, but there is no chance at all for reconciliation without communication.

volfan007 said...

anew,

i am a james bond fan...thus the 007. but, i am mainly a vol fan....the tn volunteers....you know, college sports.

i would be glad to discuss things with yall.

volfan007

Streak said...

I will let Anglican be conciliatory. I don't feel it right now.

Volfan, your rhetorical style is, shall we say, third grade-ish. WaspJerky asks about the dead in Iraq and you respond with the Bill O'Reilly response of "I guess you prefer the rape rooms under Saddam." There are other options, though I wonder if you really can even see that. Maybe an effective management of this ill-gotten war, perhaps. Or perhaps it is too much to ask of someone waving the Bible to not justify several hundred thousand deaths with such quick dismissal?

I will let Bootlegger and Wasp Jerky address the Revelation issue. Suffice it to say that many Christians don't see it that way, but I hardly expect you to acknowledge that. Your view of the Bible IS THE view of the bible, isn't it, Volfie?

Here is your conciliation--I agree with you. I framed it in the construct of White evangelical. White Evangelicals voted 70% for a corrupt party that endorses torture, and war, and I want to know why. Anglican's question of non-white evangelicals is still valid, however.

Wasp Jerky said...

Volfan007,

first of all, i am not a republican. i come from a family of yellow dog democrats. i am independent. i vote for the man and how he stands on the issues.

That certainly sounds good on paper. But when is the last time you voted for someone who was not a Republican? You yourself said that evangelicals such as yourself will vote Republican based solely on the issue of abortion. Was that a rheteorical point or your actual practice?

secondly, the iraqi's and kurds who were being raped and tortured and thier family members were being murdered were very glad that we knocked out saddam. so, yall think its more humane to let saddam and his henchmen go raping and murdering?

It has now been established that more Iraqi citizens have died as a direct result of this invasion than died under Saddam. In the 80s the United States sold chemical weapons to Iraq and gave him support. When Saddam invaded Kuwait, he asked the United States whether we would oppose his actions or not, and we led him to believe that we would not, then we did. Economic sanctions imposed by the U.N. afterwards resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children (perhaps as high as one million children). We don't really have the moral high ground here. And my question still stands. Why is abortion wrong but the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians who died for a lie acceptable?

thirdly, what i said about revelation and Jesus coming back as Judge and King is clearly what the bible teaches.

In your opinion. And yet your eschatological view has only been around for about 150 years. Before that time, there was no such thing as a rapture. There have been several historical Christian interpretations of Revelation, etc. For instance, many Christians have historically believed that Revelation was a coded response to persecution in Rome (666=Nero, etc.).

and, God thru out the ot did initiate war...He was fer it at times...when it was just. you just cant get around that...it's true.

Israel was also a theocracy with no standing army.

volfan007 said...

wasp,

i disagree with almost all of your comments. i think you are off base about it.

respectfully,

volfan007

Streak said...

Volfan, with all due respect, you lack credibility here. Just as in our discussion on slavery, you don't really have evidence to back up your statements, and you refuse to even consider alternative explanations. WaspJerky has given you some historical issues to consider--the fact is that what you and many others consider a clear reading of Revelations is not the historical view. That doesn't mean you are wrong, but you can't simply dismiss WJ or me because our conclusions are markedly different from yours.

volfan007 said...

my views on the end times are based on what the bible teaches....not on what others say. and, while there may be disagreements on some minor things on the end times....the major, black and white, clear things are certain. Jesus will come back. Jesus will be the Judge. people will go to heaven or hell, etc.

so, you can either say that you dont agree with the bible, or you dont like what the bible teaches, or that you agree with it's clear teachings, but you cant say that the major, clear, black and white teachings of the bible are not there. they are there. very clearly they are there. and, the major doctrines on the end times are agreed upon by every sincere student of the bible. down thru christian history the major doctrines are agreed upon. to say otherwise is to not know history, nor is it to know the bible.

with the issue of slavery, just what do you have a beef with me about?


volfan007

Streak said...

And that is really my point. Saying that things are black and white assumes that those meanings transcend culture and experience. I would suggest they do not. With all due respect to you, you don't read the Bible in a vacuum, and you certainly can't claim some pure reading--nor does anyone. You are reading the Bible in a context.

When we discussed slavery over at Les' blog, you suggested that slavery was on the decline before the war precisely because Christians were speaking out against it. Yet the historical evidence is contrary. Northern evangelicals opposed slavery, but southern evangelicals defended it and had ample scripture verses to rely on. When I (and others) suggested that, you refused to even consider it.