In the next 2 weeks my goal is to break down as simply as possible why many in Christians in general vote for either of the two major parties in elections. Christians who are staunchly Republican may wonder why someone who shares the same beliefs, values, and worldview would dare vote for a Democratic. Christians who are staunchly Democratic may wonder why someone who shares the same beliefs, values, and worldview would dare vote for a Republican. Christians who are neither of these may wonder the same about either.
WHY SO MANY CHRISTIANS VOTE REPUBLICAN
Christian conservatives tend to be from or attach to an older generation. They tend to have a faster reaction time when responding to what they see as threatening. They also have a greater need for certainty, and an intolerance for ambiguity. This attracts them to conservative values, taking more hasty measures toward perceived outside threats, marking clear and definite boundaries, and enforcing heavy consequences. But it’s not just about personality. It’s also about ideology.
Founded over 150 years ago by anti-slavery, anti-tyranny ex-soldiers, the party has changed over the years, and today is less founded on America as a republic than it is on representing what are commonly called “Conservative Values.” It’s important to unpack this and understand what it means, both for those who call themselves conservative and for those who don’t. It has been held for many years that the Republican party stands for conservatism, and is therefore an ally of Christian religion.
It’s been a long story. Lincoln both divided and united the nation as the most famous Republican president of our past, and both parties generally cite him as an inspiration. Over time, from Teddy Roosevelt to Dwight D. Eisenhower, it stood for the gold standard, high wages, and both big and small business, Commie-busting, small government, and Congress having more power than the President. But each of these has its exceptions. And if you notice, most of these issues trace back to economics and government size.
Enter More Social Issues
Then we get to Reagan, the new President mascot of the party. Around the time of his election, Christian leadership figureheads like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson stirred up a large host of Evangelical American voters to vote Republican. This election was one of the main reasons this pattern still continues today. The so-called “Moral Majority” was a major force in both getting Christians to vote Republican and putting more issues on the political table that concerned conservative evangelical southerners: traditional family values, influence in the media, gun rights, homosexuality, abortion, prayer in schools. This happened greatly in reaction to the “permissive 60’s” counterculture.
To conserve means to hold on to, maintain, preserve, protect. Because dedicated Christians believe in holding on to the Word, maintaining its teaching and righteous living, and cherishing the values they are raised with, conservative Christians view the Republican party as the one that clearly represents their values. It is a party that champions their liberties, but more importantly, stands for the values they believe the “founding fathers” stood for. To conservative Christians, the Republican party of the Reagan era and onward has taken up the moral torch of the Constitution and the Bible.
The Founders in the Eyes of Conservative Christians
The founders of America were for the most part religious men who ascribed to Christianity and vocally endorsed the religion as vital to the nation they were building. The Constitution makes reference to our “Creator” who gave us natural rights, and the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of religion, which the founders held very sacred. Measures must be taken to “establish justice,” “insure domestic tranquility” and “provide for the common defense,” and a strong military and law enforcement will ensure that. In order to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” we must protect our religious freedom and please the God who blesses us with laws that uphold moral values.
Because of this, conservative Christian voters tend to support whatever promotes the religious values of the founders, as well as protects their own right to both practice and promote Christianity as freely as possible. They believe that as voters it is their task to maintain, preserve, and protect Christian culture, and that this task is what America was founded on. They believe that the leaders they support must be ones who pass laws that reflect these values.
But here’s the thing: Many Christians who vote Democrat believe something very similar, that The Constitution should protect Christianity, and for some, that our laws should even promote it. Once again, a great deal of it comes down to the values shared by the “moral majority” and solidified around 1980. Because of this, the “religious right” tends to push for more private power and less government power when it comes to taxes and programs, as well as push for more restrictions on what are called “social” or “moral” issues.
How They View The Issues: Let us generalize and summarize a conservative Christian stance on major issues. It is important to understand that not every conservative Christian aligns with all of these stances on all these issues, or for the same reasons. I will represent these as from a generic Christian Republican viewpoint.
Church and State—The Constitution not only guarantees our right to pray and have church, but as a Christian nation we have a duty to pray in public settings. Voting for those who pray in Congress, for example, will bless Congress. Enacting laws allowing teachers and principals to say prayers will focus the next generation on God. Having the Ten Commandments in places like courthouses will remind us all of the most important laws. Those who seek to separate Church and State not only add to the Constitution, but are seeking to restrict our liberties and silence God in a nation founded on belief in him.
Reproduction— The Bible and science say that unborn children are alive. Abortion is murder because God’s word and the laws of medicine are clear. Legalized abortion is an effort to destroy the family by encouraging women to abandon motherhood, and for unmarried couples to end a life rather than start a family. Stem cell research dependent on murdering unborn children should not be funded. While women’s rights to choose are very important, it does not surpass the right of an innocent child to life as guaranteed by the Constitution and granted by God.
Sexuality—Using tax money to hand out contraceptives endorses premarital sex and promiscuity. God’s plan for families is very specific, and it is the nation’s duty to define marriage Biblically in order to defend it and honor God. Homosexual marriage, for example, is dishonorable to God, and should not be legal. The media we consume should be regulated so that the public is not exposed to sexual indecency. The virtue of loyalty between spouses should be encouraged by law and society.
Public Education—God intends for children to learn in the home. Homeschooling or private schools are preferred by many. For others, public school should preserve the Christian values of the founders and teach them to children, otherwise they should not receive funding for failing at this most important task. Intelligent Design must be taught alongside with, or instead of evolution. Textbooks should teach the founders were Christians. Our children shouldn’t be forced to read literature that exposes them to sex, drugs, and other controversial content without a parent present. Sex education that does not teach abstinence violates the rights of parents. It is unethical to force children to be educated in a system that deprives them of spiritual nurturing and replaces it with pagan or atheistic ideas.
Crime—The Word is clear that sin is wrong, and is punishable. The government is tasked by God with punishing evil. When people do wrong, they must be given punishment, which must be severe in order to deter crime. Being soft on crime condones it. Capital punishment is necessary as a just punishment for murder, because if you take a life you forfeit your own.
Drugs—Recreational drugs are a danger to individuals and to society. They cloud the mind and create life-destroying addictions that put families in ruin. Legalizing these drugs will allow more people to use them, and will harm society more. Legalizing marijuana encourages the gateway drug that leads to worse drugs.
Illegal Immigration—Although Republicans are divided about how to handle illegal immigration, conservatives tend to view America as a sacred place where Christianity is to flourish. Illegal immigration is a problem because it is lawbreaking and it violates the idea that America, a new promised land for godly people, is being snuck upon by those not following the laws. Ungodly nations should not send their people here without our ability to monitor them as potential threats, both to culture and to security.
The Market—The Bible does not say much about trade, except that it should be honest, so the government should not limit it much at all. The providence of God blesses those who work hard and rewards the nation with wealth based on our morals. Tax cuts should be given to those who are bountiful due to their work ethic and virtuous dealings, and they should choose how to return to God and fellow man their reward.
Weapon ownership—As the founders fought with guns to secure individual rights, our rights are secure because we are able to threaten a tyrannical government. More importantly, as the family is the basic unit of society that God made, and men have a duty to protect their family, we must be able to own guns for self defense against criminals, or anyone seeking to harm us or deprive us of our God-given rights.
Warfare—As a Christian nation, America must defend herself and her values across the world. Like the leaders of Israel in the Bible, we must be courageous to fight for what is right. This may mean going abroad to protect other nations who want to follow our example, or to contain threats to our security, safety, and godliness. God has blessed us, and as a beacon to the world we must defend democracy and freedom. We will support the state of Israel, since she was once God’s chosen people and her values closely resemble ours. We will fight extremists Muslim terrorists, clear enemies of God who reject Christ, by purging the Middle East of militant Muslims who seek to harm us. To some, Biblical prophecy hints that our involvement in the Middle East is key to Jesus coming back.
Welfare—The Bible teaches we must help the poor, and that people need to be taken care of. Examples in scripture show us that individuals and churches are to carry out this holy task. Charities and para-church organizations have done wonders to help the needy. Government using our tax money to make decisions about giving money to people claiming to be poor is at best clumsy and at worst unethical. Welfare programs cannot distinguish between those who need more and those who need less, cause lazy and ungrateful people to look to man and not God for blessings. Private institutions can creatively help the poor when not restricted by the government, and should be given freedom to decide how and when to help people claiming to be in need.
Race and Class—Racism is wrong. But we learned in the 1960s that many ungodly elements latched onto the Civil Rights Era and used it to damage America. Martin Luther King Jr. was a hero of the Civil Rights Movement and a strong Christian. He restored race relations to where they should be, and while racism is not solved, it is much less a problem than it was before. America is one nationality, and the Church is one “new” race made of all races. Focusing on racism and assuming racist motives all the time divides us rather than unites us. Current efforts to identify racism among conservatives is usually a masked effort at destroying our credibility or taking away religious liberties in the name of diversity.
The Environment—God made the earth, and we should care for it. Damaging the environment is wrong. However, climate change theory rejects that God made the earth and that it will last until the day he chooses to close his creation and bring us to a new heaven and a new earth. We should be skeptical of legislation to protect the environment based on evidence we cannot more readily see, especially if it hurts free enterprise.
Why do they NOT vote for Democrats?
At best, Christian Republicans view Democrats as too secular and tolerant of social sin, separating Church and State until the state persecutes Christianity and approves of dishonorable living. Democratic leaders write laws that intrude on family values, ridicule churches, and give too much power to a state that increasingly does not associate itself with God. This is also why some may go as far as to view Democrats as baby-murdering, anti-Christian, morally depraved, pro-Muslim tyrants who tolerate everything but Christianity.
What do they fear?
Godless leaders, tolerance of indecency, terrorism, persecution, crime in the streets, society spinning out of control, the wrath of God.
What do they love?
At the heart of Christian Republicanism is, I think, the belief that God instituted the Church, the family, and the civil government, and that the founders of America are the first to have built a nation on this principle. Because of this, they believe America is exceptional in the world because of our freedom, and our freedom is given to us by God. We are blessed because of our righteous roots, and if we continue to please God we will continue to be blessed. An abrupt change in social morality around the 1960’s put America in danger of losing the grace of God, and we have had to fight to legislate righteous morality ever since. A godly government will safeguard the morality of society and its behavior, and unashamedly declare the glory of God.
If you are a Christian who is staunchly Republican, I invite you to share your reflection. How much of this represented you?
If you are a Christian who is staunchly Democratic, or anything else but Republican, do you better understand why so many Christians vote Republican?
In the next post, we do the exact same thing with Democrats. I will attempt to equally represent Christians who vote for Democratic candidates.