I have been writing letters to the editor for a long time in a desperate hope to change the direction of the evangelical Christian church as it relates to politics. It is difficult to express how hard it is to not be heard. In truth, this is why social media is such a popular thing. Being on Twitter or Facebook or TikTok allows millions of people to pretend they are being seen and heard. As I look back at my previous letters, I notice a progression that has led me into attempting a true reform of what we might call the “God vote.”
President Biden proclaims a deep connection to the Christian faith. Newly elected Sen. Raphael Warnock is pastor at the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s former church. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and nearly every other presidential candidate in the last 200 years or so have discussed their faith. For the last 50 years or so, however, right-wing evangelicals have dominated the God influence in politics. So who is right — or is the question, which side is closer to Christianity? In other words which political party deserves the God vote?
I have attended evangelical churches where the pastor preaches that God pays attention to what we do in the voting booth. The pastor made it clear that you will be judged based on that vote. It has also been argued that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, which seems obvious. It is difficult for me to imagine the creator of the universe registering with some political party. It sounds like asking whether God roots for the Yankees or the Red Sox. Theologically speaking, I am confident God is wearing the jersey of the team with the least amount of money. God loves the least of these. Anyway, yes, God has not picked a political party. The real question is for everyone to decide how to live their life and to publicly decide what issues they support.
I do believe in choosing sides, and I believe in being vocal about it. I certainly believe that many political issues should be important to all people of faith. I also believe that many politicians on both sides have used the God vote in ways that may not have been sincere. Politics tends to pollute the sincerity of everything, including faith. Either way, I think exploring the God vote has merit as long we as individuals are not simply defined by those choices. We must remember that our most basic responsibilities are found in the day-to-day interactions with the people in our lives. That is why I connect the political choices that need to be made to the choices we make in our lives.
For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to assume that God is real, and that within that faith I can’t forget that the name of God has been used to promote genocide, enslave millions and promote oppression — and that the name of God has been used to free slaves, promote equality and liberate societies.
The question of why the two issues of abortion and the rights of LBGTQ people became such attractive issues for the conservatives is easily answered. The most obvious answer is that they have required no self-judgment on the part of the leadership of the evangelical church. The evangelical leadership, at least outwardly, are heterosexual married white men of serious financial means, which excludes them from any judgment regarding these issues. I find it fascinating that in the entire Bible — which is a massive read, by the way — the only issues these evangelicals can find to be public about have nothing to do with the leaders that choose the very foundation of the evangelical political movement. Doesn’t anyone else find that uniquely convenient for evangelical leaders?
It also should be noted that this message has proven to be extremely dangerous through evangelical missionary work. In many poor countries, the conservative brand of Christianity ends up becoming a significant part of the culture. Thus, there has been extreme laws written within these countries that have permitted executions, imprisonment and social rejection of people within the LBGTQ population. I have seen speakers from some of these countries who have been forced from their own families and threatened by the government with execution because of who they are and whom they love. This is directly related to the evangelical movement and should not be overlooked. I could also write a book about the effects on these poorer nations that relate to the abortion issue.
The issue of abortion is by far the most theologically ridiculous. I have read the whole Bible and studied under some incredible theologians at a conservative seminary. Abortion is simply not mentioned. Not once. I believe this attack on women from the church comes from the anger many men felt at the strides that were taking place in the women’s movement during the 1970s. Women were entering the workforce in large numbers, going to college and showing a strength and independence that many men both inside and outside the church did not enjoy.