But somewhere in the last 25 years things have changed, and changed dramatically. I have a hard time having a conversation with many people about political matters without having to worry about tempers getting out of control. I like to think that I have not changed (in reality I know better than that), but certainly the political environment is different.
I am sure that a great deal of this has to do with the political views and biases of the specific demographic that I am a part of. I am an evangelical Christian. First of all, let's be clear in our understanding that before the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976, evangelical was a theological designation. It had nothing to do with politics. And before the advent of Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority in the 1980's, evangelical was not identified with particularly right-wing (read Republican) issues.
We have now moved into a time in which the term evangelical is equated with conservative politics. In some churches if you do not vote for a Republican candidate, your fidelity to God is called into question. My problem with this is that God is not a Republican. In fact, I believe that if Jesus were on earth teaching and performing miracles and healings today, he would more likely affiliate with the Democratic party.
So, what is the big deal? Why is there such a machine in the right that moves all evangelicals to their camp? Does it make sense? What are the issues that the Evangelical-Republican party focus on?
- First of all, the evangelical wing of the Republican party tries to focus on so-called 'moral issues.' They advocate for amendments to ban same-sex marriages or civil unions. They believe that homosexuals somehow hurt the USA. However, I wish these same Christians would expend half that much energy caring for orphans or fighting divorce. Both of these are 'moral issues' as well.
- These 'evangelicals' also speak out strongly against abortion rights. They are completely pro-life. (A note of explanation: I have yet to meet anyone more pro-life than I.) Their candidates always campaign on a pro-life platform, yet when elected they never do anything about abortion. From 1999-2006 we had a Republican Congress. From 2001-2007 we had a Republican Congress and Republican White House. Now the Supreme Court is even favorable to pro-life issues. And yet, nothing has been done. The Republicans have never had any intention of challenging Roe v. Wade.
- Evangelicals have also become strong supporters of the war in Iraq. I am not sure why this has become an evangelical issue. The USA has lost over 4000 of our own troops and by some estimates as many as 400,000 Iraqi civilians have died. All of this is for no reason. There is no Iraqi link to terrorism, Al Qaida or weapons of mass destruction. And yet, evangelicals want to keep going.
There are many other issues that I could point up. However, suffice it to say that the truth of my heart is that I am theologically evangelical. That means that I believe in the Bible and I practice what it teaches to the best of my ability. I am what has become known as a 'born again Christian.' But where the political world is concerned, I am still a liberal. I believe that when Jesus said that we should care for others, he meant it.