Monday, August 25, 2008

Why and How Jesus Would Vote - Part 1

Barbara Williams-Skinner, in her article Why and How Would Jesus Vote: Creating a New Framework for Evangelical Voters, published in the Spring 2008 edition of Fuller Theological Seminary's Theology News and Notes, identifies five basic guidelines that she suggests "might be taken into account by evangelicals seeking to manifest as close [sic] as possible the the entirety of sacred Scripture through their civil engagements." These five points are very revealing of a particular perspective on Scripture and culture, points which I'd like to engage with from a different perspective. As I am able, I plan to post once for each point, giving her position as well as a response.

Point 1:
The day of voters electing candidates simply because they oppose abortion or vow protection of the unborn for nine months while in the womb, yet refuse to provide heathcare, quality education, housing, safe streets, a fair justice system, and a livable environment once the child is born, is hopefully over. Candidates should be evaluated based on their commitment to a government that values all of life---from the womb to the grave.
My response:

Per Cardinal Egan of New York (from Hugh Hewitt):
We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.
Given that Jesus would insist that a candidate oppose abortion, it is not the only issue on which we may decide who to elect to office. We should certainly take into account the candidate's effectiveness in dealing with other social issues. However, it is not necessarily the responsibility of the federal government to deal with all of the issues listed above. Safe streets are largely the responsibility of the local government, as are quality schools. The experiences of Canada and England indicate that socializing healthcare may well make it less accessible to those who now can easily obtain it. So while the candidates we elect should be concerned about these issues, they may sometimes best demonstrate that concern by doing nothing directly about them and leaving the resolution of the issue to those best equipped to do the work well.

1 comment:

Hank said...

What about the obligation to protect our environment (i.e., be good stewards of God's Creation) which largely falls on the regulatory responsibility of local, state and federal government, as the private sector cannot be trusted to so regulate itself in this regard? Given this reality, should candidates and their parties also be evaluated on their level of commitment to preserving, restoring and protecting the various aspects of our environment vs. the degree to which their record reflects their protection of environmentally-irresponsible businesses and industries?

What about the obligation of leaders to care for the poor, the sick, the helpless and the otherwise needy, just as Jesus called all people to do? Given this charge, shouldn't political candidates and their parties also be evaluated on their commitment to helping such segments of society vs. the degree to which their record reflects favoring helping the rich and "well off" vs the needy?

What about the obligation of leaders to promote and govern justly, i.e., honestly and fairly, just as Jesus exhorted? Given that, shouldn't candidates and those speaking for them also be evaluated on their commitment to moral uprightness vs. the degree their record reflects dishonesty and lack of character?