Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Evangelical Vote? It's Not That Simple

And that's what I keep hammering away at—in a non-injurious, gracious, and ever-so-lighthearted way. There is no evangelical vote, just evangelicals who vote. Though it seems as if evangelicals vote with one voice, they don't. In the past, that perception was certainly a more accurate one, but even then evangelicals were not of one accord when it came to choosing a president.

Christianity Today understands that and would really, really appreciate it if the media and the American public would do the same. In an editorial titled What We Really Want, the writer puts it this way:

...Evangelicalism doesn't function like an AFL-CIO, granting endorsements and delivering votes on election day. There isn't an evangelical vote. We are not some pious voting bloc up for grabs. Regardless of how pollsters might pigeonhole us, evangelicals come from across a broad spectrum of society—pragmatic, purist, and in-between.

And, I might add, from a broad spectrum of political ideologies, ultra liberal on some issues to ultra conservative on others and in-between on still others. The editorial reminds readers of the seven core commitments established by the National Association of Evangelicals in 2004: freedom of religion and conscience; protection for families and children; protection of all human life; compassion and justice for poor people; global human rights; the pursuit of peace and restraint of violence; and biblically based creation care. I read a blog recently in which a commenter asked just where are these evangelicals who care about peace, justice, the poor and the environment. I could have provided names and addresses, but the tone of the post was such that I knew I'd just get sucked into a never-ending series of email exchanges with someone whose mind was made up, and that was that.

The CT editorial brings up a number of important issues that evangelicals would like to see addressed while the pundits are busy pondering whether Barack is black enough or Hillary is warm enough. It ends thusly:

So, candidates, beware of that raised hand at the next town meeting. It may be connected to an activist evangelical who wants some honest answers about the substantive issues that face our nation.

We can only hope.

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