Will scandals inspire evangelicals to stray from Repub. Party?

Most Sunday afternoons I like to spend time browsing the faith and religion pages of on-line newspapers around the nation. It gives me an idea of what’s transpiring in the church from ‘Akron’ to ‘LA’ and beyond. (One good source can be found in the links within the side-bar at Religion News Blog)

Below is one interesting story from the LATimes, from last Sunday;

Cases like Gov. Mark Sanford’s have undercut GOP assertions of moral authority. They could also reinforce some Christian conservatives’ doubts about politics in general.

While Mark Sanford works to salvage his marriage, Republicans are facing the prospect of a different kind of breakup: religious voters walking out on the GOP.

A series of sex-related scandals over the last few years has undercut the party’s assertions of moral authority and, worse, may serve to reinforce the doubts that many evangelical voters have traditionally harbored about the unholiness of the political realm.

“If we place our hope in a political party or a politician, we’ll be let down,” said Brandt Waggoner, 25, a student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., who said he spoke for many young evangelicals. “My hope is in God and not in the government.”

A sudden and overwhelming shift of Christian conservatives from the GOP to the more secular-minded Democratic Party appears unlikely. As Laura Olson, an expert on religion and politics at South Carolina’s Clemson University, put it: “The Republican Party is still going to be, at a minimum, the lesser of two evils.”

But in politics, subtraction can be just as important as addition.

If large numbers of evangelicals were to stay home on election day, or channel their activism into outlets other than politics, the GOP could suffer grave consequences; over the last generation, devout churchgoer voters have become an increasingly vital part of the shrinking Republican base.

In general, however, Republicans have been far more active in reaching out to religious voters, not just through conservative positions on abortion, school prayer, and lately same-sex marriage, but also by promoting an image of greater virtue and more godliness.

That makes it all the more damaging when prominent figures in the party — especially those espousing Christian values, like Sanford and Sen. John Ensign of Nevada — are caught transgressing.

Their back-to-back confessions of marital infidelity place the two men in a lineup that includes, in just the last few years, former Sen. Larry E. Craig of Idaho, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in an incident in a men’s bathroom at the Minneapolis airport; Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, who was identified as the client of a Washington prostitution ring; and former Rep. Mark Foley of Florida, who resigned after sending sexually explicit e-mail messages to male congressional pages.

“Episode after episode like this makes it relatively difficult for Republicans to say with a straight face that they’re a party that stands on moral issues that evangelicals care about,” said Dale Kuehne, an associate political science professor at Saint Anselm College and a pastor in Nashua, N.H.

Margaret Feinberg, for one, has grown increasingly skeptical of all politicians. The thirtysomething evangelical author from Colorado doesn’t differentiate between parties; she’s turned off by all of the seamy revelations of low-life behavior in high-flown places.

“The . . . rumors and sexual details make me want to avoid the voting booth altogether,” Feinberg said. “My head says that every vote counts, but my heart aches at the impropriety. How can I trust someone to uphold the laws of the land when they can’t uphold their marriage vows?”

Historically, evangelicals have cycled through periods of political engagement and withdrawal from the electoral scrum. The latest activism began in the 1970s, when liberalism had evidently run its course and religious leaders like the late Rev. Jerry Falwell galvanized Christian voters and turned them into a force for conservative values and political change.

“We may be coming to an end of [that] cycle,” said Corwin E. Smidt, a pollster and political scientist at Calvin College, a Christian liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, Mich. If nothing else, Smidt said, scandals like the Sanford affair make religious voters “more likely to second-guess themselves . . . and certainly increase disillusionment.”

At the very least, some Republicans say, the party’s politicians need to lower their voices and show some humility when addressing issues of morality and personal responsibility.

“We really do need to cut loose this stinkpot of self-righteousness,” said Bob Inglis, a GOP congressman from South Carolina who once served alongside Sanford on Capitol Hill. “I see a real opportunity for a more accurate presentation of the Gospel in presenting fact rather than the fiction . . . that we’re paragons of virtue.”

(Full article here)

2 comments on “Will scandals inspire evangelicals to stray from Repub. Party?

  1. Ok, PJ, now what do you propose?

    I guess you can say this saying is appropriate in some sense here?: “…. we Reformed forgiven sinners are damned if we do and damned if we don’t….”. Now the important thing to me is “who” is doing the damning? 🙂

    I am grateful that I was born in California to a mixed family set. My father was a California Indian born in 1909 under an oak tree on the Indian Reservation my people were forced to live on. He was sorely treated by the white children in the schools. Indians were sorely treated by the Whites in the cities and towns during those days. He rose above it all, married a “white” Irish Swedish girl, my mom, after a failed marriage with a step daughter and two of his own, my half brother and half sister. With my mother he brought more children into this world and I came along in the rising middle to upper income stratosphere of his life. So I was never in want or need as he provided me more than I deserved and when he passed, he left a sizable fortune to his children.

    In California, now with the advent of the law allowing for casinos, Indians “buy” what they want, including Politicians. I don’t believe white people fall into that power trap now do they? Anyone read up on the “latest” flap with the Washington Post? 🙂

    What’s the point? We have a government system in these United States that exists by the vote. Are votes bought? Yes. Can politicians be bought? Yes. What is a Christian, full of the Holy Ghost to do in a country like the USA where the government is to be for the people and by the people, one vote per one voting age soul? The Will of God, period! Do Christians fail to do the Will of God? Yes. Does God know every single time a Christian fails? Yes.

    Here’s my prayer, before I vote, while I am voting and after I vote during elections:::>

    1Ch 16:31 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
    1Ch 16:32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it!
    1Ch 16:33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth.

    And then afterwards I lift up my head and do this: I encourage others who will receive it as I do it, to do it:::>

    1Ch 16:34 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

    If you are looking for sinless, flawless humanity to vote for in the up and coming elections at the local, county, state and federal levels, you are not going to be voting. So then, I suggest you move to a country where voting is not permitted and pray for those in civil authority. Me, I will vote and I will pray for the elected leaders, whoever they are, asking God to cause their rule to not affect my life as Paul taught already:::>

    1Ti 2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,
    1Ti 2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
    1Ti 2:3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,
    1Ti 2:4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

    By the way, the “knowledge of the truth” about that kind of prayer as Paul teaches, cited above, is to “produce” for those who pray this way, “a peaceful” and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.

    That word “life” in verse 2 is “bios”:::>

    A primary word; life, that is, (literally) the present state of existence; by implication the means of livelihood: – good, life, living.

    My prayers when praying for those who have been elected by the majority votes of the people of my community produce for me what I desire, hopefully, a government that does not pass laws that touch me and my lifestyle, allowing me to live as a Christian, raise a Christian family and serve the community that I live in seeking the welfare of the community. By the way, Christians, in any country, are to live for the welfare of the community they live in! We are not our own, we too have been bought with a price, remember?

    If we pray for their soul, those ruling politicians at all levels, that’s another kind of prayer and quite frankly or georgely or henryly, I am not so certain I know how or what to pray for them personally as I have taken a turn for Reformed Theology and believe that God determines who will come to Jesus whether or not I pray for their particular soul?

    I am not so sure “all” politicians, of whichever party, fit into this mold?:::>

    Eph 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love
    Eph 1:5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,
    Eph 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
    Eph 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,
    Eph 1:8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
    Eph 1:9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
    Eph 1:10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    I believe “all” politicians are sinners and sinful. I also believe some of them are wicked and doomed to live in the next life eternally damned!

    I believe some politicians are like this one as recorded in the book of Acts:::>

    Act 24:24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus.
    Act 24:25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.”
    Act 24:26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him.

    See there that about the nature of that man Felix? He would “often” call for Paul from the dungeon to “converse” with him, not so much for Salvation, but rather, as all politicians do, hoping that money would be given him by that “rich” Christian guy, Paul, or maybe you or me? 🙂

    I will end here hoping those of you reading this, who indeed are Christian, will understand just where your “position” is with regards to any human government on earth and if you know you are so put by the hand of God there, you too will join in praying as these words teach:::>

    Eph 1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
    Eph 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,
    Eph 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
    Eph 1:19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
    Eph 1:20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
    Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
    Eph 1:22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,
    Eph 1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

    • I will end here hoping those of you reading this, who indeed are Christian, will understand just where your “position” is with regards to any human government on earth…

      Yes, amen Michael…

      This was a somewhat interesting observation by the author…one i’d been seeing among some fellow Christians since the fall election, and more so in recent days. A disenchantment with the republican party.

      You know my feelings about the entire thing, its something i’ve not tried to hide; that being no political party represents morality, and surely does not represent God.

      If we as Christians understand that, no party–even if a third one is eventually formed, can let us down. People and organizations can only disappoint us if we place our faith in them.

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