There is a full page religious/political ad in The Kansas City Star today, which I’m sure is in many other newspapers as well. It is a message from Billy Graham urging people to vote biblical values on Tuesday.
In the ad, Graham says:
I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God.
According to a news item in the same issue of The Kansas City Star, former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been running a similar ad in which he warns Christians that their votes, “Will affect the future and be recorded in eternity” and that they must cast a ballot that will “Stand the test of fire.”
Graham and Huckabee are only the most prominent evangelists for the Republican cause. Political sermons instructing the flocks to vote according to a right wing interpretation of the will of God have become increasingly common.
I personally believe that when it comes to living by biblical values, particularly as espoused by Jesus, Democratic candidates have a clear edge over Republicans. Republicans may do a better job of protecting the unborn, but Democrats do a much better job (perhaps too good a job) of taking care of the less fortunate among us who are already among the living.
I am much more comfortable with the positive message of Jesus in the New Testament than with the angry God of the Old Testament. I am among the growing number of people who identify themselves as being “spiritual, but not religious.” I believe in God. I subscribe to the biblical description that God is Love and God is Light. I believe in, and try to live by, The Golden Rule. Beyond that, I don’t claim any special knowledge of God, or God’s will.
I do suspect that if hypocrisy and bearing false witness can cause a politician to fail “the test of fire,” there will be no shortage of politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, going to the hot place.
I know that I am not alone in believing that mixing religion and politics is dangerous. Particularly when Republicans appeal to biblical values to win votes and then use the power of government to serve moneyed interests instead of promoting the common good.
For those who have not read the excellent books What’s the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank and Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back On the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, let me sum them up briefly.
Republicans use the wedge issues of gay rights and abortion to get a lot of votes from people who believe that having the government stop women from getting abortions and keep same sex couples from making a lifelong commitment to one another are the most important issues of the day. These voters are often the same ones who claim that they want a smaller, less intrusive government.
The Republicans (with some help from Democrats who are also beholden to the moneyed interests) then use the power of government to promote the interests of Wall Street, big banks, and multinational corporations at the expense of all of the rest of us, including the values voters who helped them win elections.
The fiscal cliff may be looming, but it is only the tip of the iceberg of the disaster awaiting us if Republicans gain full control of the federal government (the White House and both houses of Congress). A return to the policies that led to the current ongoing recession would be a monumental disaster for everyone except the super-wealthy. To clarify my use of the term recession, I consider continued mass unemployment to qualify as a recession, even if Wall Street has been doing fine for a while now.
I understand why many voters are opposed to the Democratic Party. I myself, view them as the lesser of two evils at this point. But when confronting two evils, I believe strongly in choosing the lesser of them.
It is in that cynical and bitter context that I encourage values voters to think long and hard before voting for any Republicans on Tuesday. Let’s give the Republicans the fringe party status they so richly deserve and then work together to make the Democratic officeholders hew to their sworn Constitutional oath to “promote the general Welfare.”