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Real Answers™
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Copyright: ©2007 Mike Mirakian
670 words

BIBLICAL VALUES TRUMP POLITICAL LOYALTIES FOR EVANGELICALS

By: Mike Mirakian

Tiger Woods was once asked what his goals were for the upcoming PGA Tour season. He answered with one word: “Win.” Apparently there are no moral victories on the golf course. But what about areas of life that truly matter? Is doing what you believe to be right as important, or even more important, than winning?

Evangelical Christians are staring down this issue as the 2008 presidential campaign heats up. Once a confirmed Republican voting block, evangelicals seem to be breaking ranks over a variety of issues. Some are sliding to the left to champion issues like the environment, poverty, and opposition to the war in Iraq. Others are leaning harder to the right, tightening their focus on family values and pro-life concerns.

As many as 80 percent of evangelicals voted for George W. Bush in 2000, one of the largest and most unified groups on the political landscape. Now, this block seems to be splintering. The political divisions among evangelicals, however, may be revealing a heightened sense of the defining core of their identity: biblical values.

Evangelical Christians are people of the book. They believe the Bible is the highest source of authority for human conduct. The Bible may not directly address all modern political issues, but its principles and moral values under gird the public policy stances of evangelicals. This is just as true for those concerned about protecting the environment as it is for those supporting the pro-life agenda. The major political parties label nearly every position as liberal or conservative, even keeping scorecards that rank politicians along the left-right spectrum. Biblically-minded Christians, on the other hand, are increasingly defining their views in deeper, more spiritual terms. And fewer are lining up neatly behind party platforms.

Dr. James Dobson, founder of the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, recently wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times detailing his displeasure with the leading Republican presidential candidates. Dobson indicated that he, along with other prominent figures in the pro-family movement, would not vote GOP in next year’s general election unless the candidate “pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life.”

In other words, Dobson would put his considerable political influence behind a minor-party candidate with little chance of winning the election. He seems to be among a growing number of evangelicals who believe biblical values should trump traditional political loyalties.

Evangelicals are also diversifying their concerns. While abortion and family values have been mainstays for Christian political activists in recent elections, issues like protecting the environment and concerns over American foreign policy are moving up the priority list. A recent Ellison Research poll indicates, for example, that 84 percent of evangelicals would support legislation to reduce pollutants leading to global warming.

Advocating for the poor is also a growing concern for evangelicals. While many churches have participated over the years in food pantries and homeless shelters, evangelicals have historically had little voice in anti-poverty causes in the political arena. But in early October, evangelical leaders made their voices heard in response to President Bush’s veto of a measure to extend funding for health insurance for poor children.

Rev. Glenn Palmberg, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church, called on members of his denomination to contact their legislators in support of overriding the veto. The override failed in the House, but for Palmberg standing up for the poor is central to the church’s mission. “Most of our people are pretty conservative politically and theologically,” he recently told the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy. “But they are compassionate people. They are biblical people, and they understand the call of Christ to care for our brothers and sisters.”

Jesus told his followers to “seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). This is a statement about values and priorities. Evangelicals have always ranked the mission of Jesus and obedience to God’s word as their top priority. How this translates into social concern and political involvement, however, is undergoing some changes and may just shake things up next November.

 

"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; amyfoundtn@aol.com

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