OK, so today’s question is this: Do you see your affiliation with a particular political party as having something to do with your discipleship? In other words, are you a Republican because you think abortion is the most serious matter facing Christians or a Democrat because social services for the poor is the greatest concern for Christians? Even if you are not in the United States it would be interesting to hear from people in other countries as well. Please tell me what party you support and why you support it.
Also, I’d like to hear from those who are intentional about not aligning with any one party because of your Christian convictions.
Most democracies outside of the US have more than 2 parties, not always on a spectrum left-right. For example countries such as the Netherlands and Canada has parties that are socially liberal yet fiscally conservative. Likewise the Netherlands (i.e. Democrats 66) and Germany have parties that are populist, fiscally very right-wing, socially left wing, but free market capitalist.
I’m not American but my bet is there are Christian’s who vote (for which ever party) because they feel the Christian world view is best represented by the party they choose to vote for (they accept the politics because their faith ‘suggests some particular party’), and there are Christian’s who vote, not on party affiliation necessarily, but on the issues representing their faith. And there are likely Christian’s who vote based upon tradition (either their own, or their families).
Having said that, I recognize the presupposition in American media that American Christians vote right – but I know that to be a stereotype that does not do justice to Democrat Christians.
(BTW American politics, prior to an election, seem to drag on forever. One year, its the primaries, the next it’s the election itself. By the time the election roles around, and people vote, the media has been covering it for just under 2 years. Give me a 16 week election any day!)
@Andrew : In the United States there have been many who have wanted more than two parties, but the two party system seems unmovable. Most Americans do let their faith inform their vote. The stereotype that Christians vote right seems to have been true to some extent for some time, though that seems to be changing. Likewise, evangelicals and main liners have often split.
As to the length of our election seasons, I agree, ours is way too long!
BTW can you enlighten me; which party does the donkey represent, which does the elephant represent, and why?
This has always confused me …
Brian, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to make another point (from a biblical perspective) about politics.
When Paul wrote in [Romans 13:1] “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” he was speaking to the elect in Rome who had no influence over the politics that governed their lives what-so-ever.
The dilemma of our western Christian democracies is that this ‘generally’ isn’t true. If a country is a so-called ‘Christian’ country, and a democracy, presumably all of the politics are ‘suppose’ to reflect Christian values (acknowledging that they don’t).
Whether they do or don’t though, it is easy to look at Rome and see the dichotomy between the Godly being ruled by the Godless AND overlook the same dichotomy in western liberal democracies. We don’t always see clearly, the divide between Godless and Godly. Never-the-less, the admonishment in [Rom 13:1] to submit to worldly authority seems to be always true. Also, we should recognize that God sometimes gives us politically what we ask for, even if it isn’t in our best interest [1 Sam 8:6-7].
(Incidentally, my favourite display of Jesus’ aloofness WRT to worldly politics was when he was asked if it was ‘legal’ to pay tax, according to the law.)
Having said all that, considering the recent eschatological discussions we’ve been having at your blog; if it’s true that God ordained (Daniel’s) nations to rule over Israel as super-powers or empires over times, time and half a time of punishment, Paul’s [Romans 13:1] quote is essentially saying “take your lumps for rebelling against God, since this is what comes of rejecting your true king!”.
The Republicans use the elephant and the Democrats the donkey…but funny enough, I don’t know why!
I will be following this post… very curious to the responses!
Interestingly enough, I’ve heard from both Liberals and Conservatives, who both have a strong sense of obligation to the poor, but differing philosophies regarding the government’s role in that (some point to strong governmental role, others to churches, families, communities meeting those needs, etc). Some say Systemic, some say Social/Families, some say both….
What strikes me as odd is that some of the most progressive, justice-advocating, human rights-focused people I know aren’t as passionate about abortion. While my personal politics have certainly gone more moderate over the last few years (in some ways), this is an issue I’d like to see more progressives involved with, and not just one section of the electorate (right wing repubs). I’m sort of befuddled by it (and yes, I do realize there are other ways to “prevent abortions” like counseling, birth control, social outreach into low income areas, etc).
It seems Constitutional, Limited Government Republicans impose their readings of abortion into the Constitution (“unalienable rights”), something contrary to their “no activism” value with the Constitution — and also push for things like Federal Marriage Amendment and other social conservative values. There is always time for a departure in consistency (maybe this is why they hate Ron Paul so much? He preaches their values with the utmost consistency — though, I’d love to hear his views “at the State level” since he punts the ball there an awful lot).
Then there’s social activism, those who believe their call is to stand by the weak, the defenseless, the oppressed and the silent… but they change their tune at abortion, ironically, the most defenseless of all. In fact, they will advance their cause via the Supreme Court, and read an activist sense of justice into the Constitution, except on this issue.
Anyhow, this should make for a great post and I look forward to participating with it.
I’m not sure how foreign elections work, but the US system is so tied to establishment, money, campaign financing, etc that it makes it extremely tough to introduce a third party. The two parties are pretty polarizing of each other, and a third-party candidate, typically pulls votes from one of the other two, thus giving the election to one of those “polarizing” parties. The only way around this is to have 4-5 parties with more mainstream buy-in, instead of 3. Yeah, we have a whole lot of political parties on the ballot each year, but that’s mostly token 🙂
This is why ultra-conservative candidates like Bachman and Santorum may find early leads in their primaries, but will likely give way to a candidate like Mitt Romney, more promoted by establishment, and much more money in his pocket.
Not sure what the solution is.
@James W, influence peddling is no different outside of the US as within, except that where many parties exist, spattered across an X-Y Cartesian grid rather than a left-right line, the influence peddlers have more places to corrupt the process (kind of like “if mom says no, ask dad”).
It was the Irish statesmen Edmund Burke who invented the party system. As much as I like him, I think the party system has broken western democracies. If we couldn’t ‘vote for party’ we’d have to ‘vote issues’.
Favourite Edmund Burke Quotes:
“All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.”
“Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.”
“Applause is the spur of noble minds, the end and aim of weak ones.”
“Ambition can creep as well as soar.”
With or without Burke, it seems parties would have been inevitable to wield and influence power, even if they were not called “parties” (organizations, fellowships, lobby groups, interest groups, etc).
It seems an inevitable conclusion for anyone trying to figure out how to wield governmental power. The more voices, the more heard. And “issues voting” is still quite popular. Look at the people who will vote for a pro-life candidate, even if they haven’t a clue about foreign policy, and just spit out cliche’s about economics.
I do not believe partisanship has anything to with Christian discipleship. I do believe that one should base their vote on a Biblical basis. For this reason I am an independent that leans Libertarian. I am thankful I am in a state (Texas) where I don’t have to register as a specific party member to vote that way in primaries. I believe in what George Washington said when it came to parties, that they would lead to politicians having more allegiance to parties than the peopel they represent. I think that HAS happened but in this particular discussion it has divided (at least in America) the church to much. This is why I’m an independent that would like to stress issues and yes a candidate I believe in but not parties. We like labels way to much hear in America and the moment you affliate and say you are a Republican they say your a pro-Patriot Act, and etc. They assume rather than discuss. So this causes a lot of misunderstanding in churches. So I stay independent. Plus, it barely now the that myriad of things that I believed wrong with government have started being addressed: Civil Liberties, warmonger, the military-industrial complex, special interests and lobbying, financial corruption, and many others.
I am a registered Independent, for many of the reasons that Danny mentions above. My faith deeply influences my voting, but also should give us pause in aligning closely with political parties, in my opinion.
I grew up in a verrrrry conservative fundamentalist Pentecostal church where being conservative and being Christian were synonymous and liberals were highly criticized as deceived anti-christs with a primary agenda to make people hate Christians. Typically if leaders thought you should not believe certain things, they just called it “liberal” and we knew we should not believe that thing. Endorsement of the Republican party was open talk from the pulpit, as was criticism of liberalism. For instance, a recent Facebook status from the senior pastor of the church was this, “Wonder why all the liberal media pundits who seem to think Sharia law is “cool” won’t talk about the 44yr old Iranian woman who was supposed to be stoned, now hanged for adultery? It’s hilarious-under Sharia law, liberals will be the first ones killed!”
So you can see what I grew up with. Of course abortion and homosexual marriage were the center-issue for the endorsement of the right, but it seems to me that Evangelicals have gone from caring mostly about these two and other family values to buying into a corrupt political and economic system. Care for the poor is seen as something that is strictly privatized. It’s also interesting to me because conservatism seems to attack symptoms of larger problems. For instance, there is a direct correlation with poverty and abortion.
Being patriotic was always seen as being Christian. It really is a Christian worldview interpreted through a conservative political filter.
Since I’ve been studying Theology at my university, my political stances have shifted more towards the middle. I know that if I were to talk to people at the church I grew up at, they would consider me liberal, but I really don’t consider myself that. I have just really grown weary of politics after living through a few administrations from both sides, nothing really gets done. Politicians on both sides just get lobbied and paid by all the same multi-billion dollar corporations to vote in their favor.
Come voting time I’ll try my best to discern who to vote for by my beliefs, but it seems no matter who I choose I will be giving up at least a couple main issues either way. So I do not align with either side because of my beliefs, because no matter what side I vote for I give up something important to me, I just have to decide which issue I think is the most prevalent at this point in time.
I don’t like boxes, so I’m an independent. It’s unfortunate that a whole slew of values seems to have to come in a package like a political party. But I guess that’s how some of this stuff goes–you often have to vote for individuals, and all the issues they support, as opposed to just issues (like when voting for a proposition)…
@James: At the end of the day it is unlikely a Republican will say they don’t care for the poor or a Democrat will say that the right to life doesn’t matter to them. As you note, it is often the philosophical worldview regarding these matters that creates the major difference. At the core there are similar desires.
@Danny: It is unfortunate that affiliation with a party often leads to the assumption that you support A, B, C, …..when in fact you may not. It makes it hard to want to affiliate in any way lest one is pigeonholed.
@Cris: I came from a similar background and it was in college that my views changed as well. It was the study of Scripture and Christian theology that complicated matters for me!
@Jason: I share you aversion.
Not to turn the discussion into a classic ethics debate on abortion… but I don’t know about them all having the same desire, Brian. Insisting and even passionately campaigning for “a woman’s right” to kill her unborn child seems to come from a different desire. Granted, that is grouping a lot of people in one broad brush. For example, Libertarian/Republican Ron Paul is supportive of State’s having the right, through their governments and people, to decide on the legality of abortion, since his view of federal government is limited. But active campaigning to legalize or keep abortion legal, seems something altogether different.
It’s interesting when we compare many of these social struggles to that of slavery and abolition in the 1800’s. It’s actually a more devastating blow to the pro-life camp that they are pigeon-holed at the far right of the Republican Party. One would think there would be more takers for such a central social justice issue.
@James: True, but my point is that pro-choice advocates don’t see themselves as “insisting and even passionately campaigning for ‘a woman’s right’ to kill her unborn child” as you stated it. Many would argue that the embryo is not quite human yet, but rather part of the woman’s body. I am not saying that, but I am saying they don’t see it as contradictory to a pro-life ethic.
Continuing my thought… your comments about both sides have a mutual desire, I actually MOSTLY agree with. I do think most want what’s best for America, but have different perspectives with how that’s accomplished. This goes for economics, role of government, etc.
Even to the abortion issue, a lawyer and a pastor may both despise abortion, but have different “legal” or “constitutional” opinions. But it’s the group on the Left that actually pushes for abortion-rights, and are okay with the Roe v. Wade decision — and consider themselves to be defenders of the weak, oppressed, marginalized and distressed — it’s these that flabbergast me the most. Join the cause and quit making pro-life an exclusive Right Wing Republican issue.
Gotcha. And that’s where the ethics comes into play (though many don’t have an issue with late-term abortions evidently). But this is where I would simply passionately disagree, and argue that, at some early stage, there is heartbeat, there is personality, there is a human being, and there is life. Though there may still be disagreement as to “when and where,” it must be settled at some minimum for there to be an understanding.
My view, of course, is that at conception, life is created.
And my liberal friends are often contradictory on this point — case in point, homicides of pregnant mothers including double murder charges, etc. This shows there is an inherit value in life, and that most reasonably conclude that the baby should be protected.
The weakest, most innocent, and most susceptible to abuse of all, the baby behind the wall of the stomach.
Anyhow… I realize this is turning more into an abortion/pro-life discussion than I intended. But I think I’m going through this out loud more than anything. I find the practice to be unethical, immoral and downright disgusting. I don’t often side with my conservative friends on social issues, but this is one where I think their fight is worthy and right.
And you rightly clarified the alternative position of the pro-choice crowd (I realize my choice of words describing their position was castigating and a bit emotionally pointed). But it’s this valuation of when life begins, and if there is life within a woman’s body, if there are moral obligations for this life, that is the discussion. And at some point, we have to go beyond discussion. The pro-life group is at a disadvantage, in my view, because of how closely associated it is with one fringe political faction. (I say that, even realizing, there are many Democrat Catholics that are strongly pro-life)
Anyhow… to your post topic… like many on here, I consider myself Independent, though I’m quite unsure about the more philosophical views of government that separate liberals and conservatives. We can’t just be “issues” voters, because most of the issues to vote on stem from worldview, ideologies and positions about the role of government. This is a position, at this time in my life, where I am just not sure. I hate saying that. I’ve always been a rabid partisan who enjoyed healthy polemics and emotional argumentation for my political views. I suppose I’m more humbled lately.
I’m not aligned, not because I don’t think a Christian should/may do so, but because the political arena is not a venue of the particular vocation God has given me. I hope & trust others in the body are likewise following their paths and that Christian servants will be found throughout the political spectrum, ultimately working as brothers and sisters, not enemy combatants.
One thing that makes Christian involvement in politics tricky is that all of the New Testament was written when Christianity was a marginal minority group, while today we are the majority in the US. That’s not to say that the New Testament is irrelevant to contemporary politics, but application of it needs to be done carefully and thoughtfully.
It also shows that even Christian government is imperfect, re-affirming our great need (and longing) for perfect, Godly government with Christ as our King!
I don’t think there is a christian way to vote. One reason is that there are virtually no issues that concern us that have specific parallels in the Bible. Another is that the Bible doesn’t contemplate a secular democracy, which we are in the US. So people have to decide what is important to them and vote accordingly.
My problem is that in the US, instead of Christianity influencing how someone votes (which I think is lgitimate no matter which way one leans), Christianity has been redefined based on political philosophy. So many people define Christianity as being opposed to abortion or gay rights or a certain tax policy.
@Bondboy – Also true. the redefining of Christianity in terms of politics – bugs me.
When I served alongside US forces in Afghanistan, the American Christian service members (who I have great respect for) would ask “What denomination are you?”; the subtext being political, not religious.
If I had answered something like (Calvinist) ‘Baptist’ I’d be seen as a Republican (or some other conservative denomination). If I had answered ‘Episcopalian’ I’d be seen as a Democrat (or some other liberal denomination). Essentially the view was there are only two types of Christians which is a political view. The question was obvious (to non-Americans) as really being about politics not theology.
I’d always lightly answer – “I don’t know. I’m the same denomination as the thief on the cross, I think.”
If my theology is to be judged, it should be judged against a perfect standard (the bible), not some political notion.
Eventually this political season I will open the forum for a discussion on abortion. In the meantime, I agree with you on when life begins and I agree that “the least of these” includes the embryonic human in a mother’s womb. Our task is to frame the debate correctly and the danger of denying pro-choice advocates support of “life” allows them to claim we are fighting a straw man. We must push the discussion to human identity and personhood as you noted.
Good insights. There may be a sense in which some Christians are called to be in these parties like some Christians are in business, education, etc…
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