I am a Republican. I've never made that much of a secret. I struggle, however, the sometimes blind allegiance that the right wing evangelical block seems to give to the Republican Party. We often simply toe the line (status quo, if you will) without giving thought to the ramifications of our positions. Regardless of where the candidate falls, concerning their party affiliation, it has always seemed to me that we are obligated to vote based on biblical principles and expectations rather than traditional norms. Just as I have been somewhat uneasy with the apparent selling of our collective Evangelical souls to the Republican Party, I am equally unsettled by the recent overtures by those within the Democratic Party toward the Evangelical voting block. In this recent CNN.com article, Claire Brinberg attempts to examine the importance of"religious" voters to the upcoming presidential election, specifically as it relates to candidates within the Democratic Party. Brinberg points out the many ways that Democrats are attempting to woo these voters. There is a quote, however, from Mara Vanderslice in the article, that highlights my trepidation in regards to the recent religious overhaul by these candidates. Vanderslice is a strategist working for the Democrats who is also an evangelical Christian. In regards to Democratic attempts to recruit evangelical voters she says:
"It has to be authentic. This is not about Jesus-ing up the party, so to speak ... It just won't work if it's seen as a cynical ploy,"
In a nutshell, she has summed up my fears. Simply put, I don't buy it. I don't buy Democratic candidate's recent endorsements of faith in their personal lives, specifically if this public affirmation has not been consistent up to this point. As an equal opportunity cynic, however, I also struggle to believe in the same faith endorsements from many Republican candidates. I find previous little practical support in the lifestyles of many of these politicians. I am reticent to accept the willingness of politicians to endorse religious conversions unless a change in their lives is apparent. Endorsements are nothing more than verbal platitudes, in my opinion, unless accompanied by actual behavior that supports their claims. These recent moves smack of another in a long line of political strategies to prostitute themselves for the benefit of the upcoming election. It is difficult to convince me that this is legitimate, particularly in light of the almost wholesale commitment to religious outreach practiced by all of the Democratic candidates. Either God has worked miraculously, much like in Acts 2, bringing about regeneration in the lives of all the candidates simultaneously, or this is another feeble attempt to garner political support. Unfortunately, I am inclined to believe the latter.
John Kerry made the claim in the last election that his religious faith was important to him but also claimed that it would not influence his decisions. That is not the kind of candidate I am looking for. I want a candidate who will be honest about their predispositions and particularly transparent about the influence that their religious convictions have on their voting record. This kind of vote gathering is particularly offensive to me, as it occurs in both the Democrats and the Republicans, because it occurs at the expense of the name and reputation of Jesus. I am almost convinced that the cavalier manner in which many politicians use Christ to stump for votes (much like they use their wives and/or children) is another example of slandering the name of Christ, not to mention an example of possibly taking the Lord's name in vain.
I don't need or want a candidate to convince me of his/her faith through their speeches, commercials, t-shirts or slogans. What I do need, however, is a candidate to expose me to their faith through their character-filled life which translates into moral, character-based decision-making which can lead our country forward.