The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is fighting for values we can solidly back up as Christians.
Christian Democrats of America
We hear a lot in the media about the “Christian vote” and specifically the voting habits of Evangelical voters. We hear how they can sway entire elections and how the endorsement of faith leaders is an important win for a campaign. But why is it important for Christians to engage in politics? Depending on who you ask, you may receive very different answers. However, I propose we look to the Bible itself for the answer.
There are more than 3,000 verses in the Bible about love, how we treat people, and social justice. Biblical values regarding how people throughout all levels of society should be treated are clear, and as we translate these values to the modern world, there is no more clear path for how we express these values than through how we vote. Of course, the argument for many is that we should not work to influence the government. Instead, they argue we should influence the church and engage in charity in our own individual lives. While this is true and extremely important, we cannot ignore how the role of government affects the lives of the poor, the immigrant, the outcast; as Jesus called them, “the least of these.”
Certainly, the majority of the time, when the media and political pundits refer to the “faith voter,” the “Christian vote” or “Evangelicals,” they are almost always talking about specific segments of the Christian world – the Religious Right conservative Christians and “pro-life” Evangelicals. The very vocal support for the GOP from these segments of the Christian population has “branded” the Christian voter as a conservative voter, however, Christian Democrats and Liberals are also a large and influential voting bloc with an important voice. There are many reasons Christian voters have chosen to engage as Democrats when asking important values-based questions such as:
Which party is working for real solutions and viewing the immigrant with compassion, and which party has separated children from their parents at the border and adopted exclusionary and even cruel policies towards immigrants?
Which party is promoting policies to help the poor, wants to increase food stamps, housing and programs for those who are vulnerable from the homeless to the elderly to the single parent, and which party wants to block funding for all these things yet increase spending on war, military, and wealthy tax breaks?
Which party speaks with reform and justice in mind for long-standing racial inequity and against homophobic and xenophobic laws, and which party is still pushing for an even harsher criminal justice system with little to no reparations or criminal justice reforms in terms of mercy and protections for all of God’s creation and wishes to expand the use of religion to include measures of lawful exclusion of certain American citizens?
On these, and so many other issues, the choice for many faith voters is obvious. The Democratic Party is not perfect, but it is fighting for values we can solidly back up as Christians, especially when the GOP is offering the values of Donald Trump.
We of the Christian faith must choose who we vote for and who most encompasses the values the Word of God speaks and tells us to care about most. … That should mean being progressive.
Most conservative voters focus on one or two issues in their decision to vote Republican – abortion, Israel, and a certain idea of “religious freedom” having to do with LGBTQ exclusion. But according to the Bible, God cares about a lot more than these issues which are not even addressed in scripture at all. His primary social and political concern, according to the Old Testament and the New Testament, is how we are treating the “least of these” among us and a system of justice and fairness. Are we defending and standing up for the rights of the poor, abused, weak, marginalized, those who have no voice? That is what true Christian values are all about. This is speaking as one who would typically be labeled a “given Republican” and an “Evangelical Christian.”
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” This famous quote from Jesus was a departure from what had been taught up until that point. It was a progressive view that shattered the conservative views of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is not a rare event. It was a common theme of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus consistently presented progressive views that befuddled the conservatives of his day. While I think any of us would be too presumptuous in assuming what party Jesus would register for if he was an American citizen today, what we do know is that he was a progressive. His beliefs are still progressive to this day.
But if Jesus is not a Republican or a Democrat, what is he? He is simply the champion of the down and out. Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” To God, it is not about your party preference, your gender, ethnicity, or race … it is about values. Even though we may not hear about it much on the media circuit, there are a lot more Christians in the United States who believe their values are better supported by most of the progressive platform rather than the GOP.
Is there one current platform that has perfect Christian values? Of course not! But since we do not live in a theocracy, we of the Christian faith must choose who we vote for and who most encompasses the values the Word of God speaks and tells us to care about most. To millions of Americans, that should mean being progressive.
Although it is often viewed as such, being progressive is not necessarily just a Democratic notion. In fact, Dr. Martin Luther King was a registered Republican and he led the civil rights movement. Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was the one who was progressive enough to change the status quo and ended slavery. While progressive views are most associated with the Democratic Party, nobody has a monopoly on them, just as no party has a monopoly on Christianity.
However, I would argue that the embrace of Donald Trump by 81% of white evangelicals in 2016 has sealed this truth: The Religious Right has lost the credibility to hold the megaphone in the representation of all Christians in America. Christian progressives are a viable and growing part of the voting bloc and can no longer be overlooked. They are all over the country – in churches, in social justice groups, and non-profit organizations – but, until now, have had their voices drowned out by the Religious Right that so-often carries the media voice for the Christian perspective. Now is the time we should no longer be afraid to speak up to our Christian peers, from a Biblical and humanitarian perspective, on how and why we vote as Christian Democrats.
Founder and Director of Christian Democrats of America; the #ChristiansAgainstHate / #ChristiansResist movement and Facebook group; creator, co-producer, and co-host of the “What Would Jesus Pod?”
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Consider This …
Faith should never trump science. We need to stop asking Scripture and Nature to do jobs they were not designed to do. Some questions likely will remain – and that’s OK.
Matthew provides the genealogy of Jesus to the Babylonian exile. Then he quickly turns to the virgin birth of Jesus by giving a new significance to Isaiah’s prophecy.
George Yancey notes when he critiques those with whom he shares similar faith values, he has more influence than criticizing those with different belief systems.