“Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully” ~ Jeremiah 48:10
I never cease to be amazed at just how ignorant, naïve, and gullible Christians can be — and especially conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians who profess to be in subjection to the precepts of Scripture. This is especially true when it comes to politics.
Although I am a Christian who loosely identifies with the above persuasions, my authority is the Holy Bible, not the Republican Party, the conservative movement, the pro-life movement, or the Religious Right — and certainly not the Christian Coalition.
Founded by Pat Robertson in 1987, the Christian Coalition was led by the charismatic Ralph Reed from 1989 to 1997. It was at one time a prominent voice in the conservative movement. The Christian Coalition has declined precipitously since Reed’s departure, and especially since Robertson ceased being its president in 2001. Because of its GOP partisanship and the superficial way it handles important issues — all in the name of Christ, of course — the organization’s end cannot come soon enough.
According to its website, the Christian Coalition
is a political organization, made up of pro-family Americans who care deeply about becoming active citizens for the purpose of guaranteeing that government acts in ways that strengthen, rather than threaten, families. As such, we work together with Christians of all denominations, as well as with other Americans who agree with our mission and with our ideals.
In 1992 the Christian Coalition began producing voter guides and distributing them to evangelical and conservative churches. Again, according to its website:
Our hallmark work lies in voter education. Each election year, Christian Coalition distributes tens of millions of voter guides throughout all fifty states, (up to seventy million in 2000 alone!). These guides help give voters a clear understanding of where candidates stand on important pro-family issues before they go to the polls on Election Day.
Although the voter guides contain in very small print the statement: “This voter guide is provided for educational purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement of any candidate or party,” complaints that its “non-partisan” voter guides are in fact partisan (i.e., Republican) have always been leveled against the organization.
Where I live in Northwest Florida, the Christian Coalition is alive and well. The voter guide for my area (which can be viewed online here) contained on the front cover John McCain and Barack Obama’s “positions” on some issues. There were no other presidential candidates listed even though the Constitution Party candidate, Chuck Baldwin, is not just a Christian, he is a Baptist pastor in Pensacola, Florida. The inside of the guide contained the “positions” of two sets of Florida U.S. House candidates and two sets of state of Florida House candidates. This was a real joke since none of the Democratic candidates responded to the Christian Coalition’s survey of their beliefs; their position was simply stated as “no response.” (One of the Republican candidates didn’t even respond to some of the questions.)
What really galls me is simplistic way that issues are presented and the presidential candidates’ responses are given. The result is that McCain appears to be some great crusader for Christian values.
Three of the issues in the voter guide can be considered “pro-life” issues. McCain is said to support a “federal ban on partial-birth abortions,” oppose “government funding of organizations that perform abortions,” and oppose “human cloning.” Obama is said to believe the opposite on each of these issues (for the record Obama is listed in the voter guide as “undecided” when it comes to government funding of organizations that perform abortions, but the Democratic Party platform still says that a woman is entitled to an abortion “regardless of ability to pay,” and he was Democratic nominee). The guide gives voters the impression that McCain is a stanch pro-lifer. Now, there is no question that Obama’s position on abortion is reprehensible. And neither is there any doubt that McCain is far better on pro-life issues than Obama. But is McCain a consistent pro-lifer?
McCain voted just last year to overturn the 2001 ban on federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. He voted to confirm to the U.S. Supreme Court Clinton’s appointments of the pro-abortion justices Stephen Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg, as well as Bush Sr.’s appointment of the liberal David Souter. Yet, McCain recently stated that as president he would not have appointed them. McCain considered the pro-abortion senator Joe Lieberman for his vice presidential running mate. He claims that Roe v. Wade “is a flawed decision that must be overturned,” but has also stated that “certainly in the short term, or even in the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe vs. Wade, which would then force women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations.” He believes that babies who are conceived via rape or incest can be aborted since they are “legitimate exceptions” to his opposition to abortion. McCain is the Republican who gave us the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform attack on free speech. This prohibits pro-life organizations from running ads that mention a candidate by name within 30 days of a primary election and within 60 days of a general election. McCain has also voted to fund the biggest abortion provider in the country, Planned Parenthood, by supporting Health and Human Services Title X funding. And then there is the inconsistency of claiming to be pro-life while he is pro-death when it comes to his support for perpetual war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Another issue covered by the voter guide is “adding u2018sexual orientation’ to the definition of hate crimes.” This is something that McCain opposes and Obama supports. And to his credit, McCain opposes federal hate crime laws in general. But when it comes to the hundreds of unconstitutional federal laws on the books, McCain generally supports them. He opposes state legalization of medical marijuana, favors mandatory minimum federal sentences for drug sales, strengthening current laws dealing with non-controlled substances, and expanding a prison system that already has the highest incarceration rate in the world. He also sponsored a bill (S.1114, 2005) on drug testing for major league sports. Where in the Constitution is the federal government authorized to do that?
Still another issue is allowing “parents to use vouchers for school choice.” McCain is listed as supporting vouchers while Obama’s view is given as “no response.” Does this mean that McCain is opposed to the public school system that many Christian parents would never send their children to? Not at all. And what are vouchers anyway but another income transfer program that is just as much a welfare program as food stamps, WIC, SSI, and TANF?
Yet another issue is a “Constitutional ban on flag desecration.” This is actually not an issue at all; it is just a record of how McCain and Obama voted in the Senate on a bill. The bill in question (S.J.Res.12, 2005) was a proposed amendment to the Constitution that read: “The Congress shall have power to prohibit the physical desecration of the flag of the United States.” Because McCain voted for the bill and Obama voted against it, McCain is supposed to be patriotic and Obama un-American. Although some may find flag desecration offensive, an amendment to prohibit such a thing is nothing short of an attack on freedom of expression. There is also no reason for the federal government to get involved in this issue. States have laws against vandalism and trespassing if someone burns someone else’s flag on someone else’s property. As Congressman Ron Paul said about an earlier attempt of Congress to pass a flag burning amendment:
I wish to point out that by using the word “desecration,” which is traditionally reserved for religious symbols, the authors of this amendment are placing the symbol of the state on the same plane as the symbol of the church. The practical effect of this is to either lower religious symbols to the level of the secular state, or raise the state symbol to the status of a holy icon. Perhaps this amendment harkens back to the time when the state was seen as interchangeable with the church. In any case, those who believe we have “No king but Christ” should be troubled by this amendment.
Another issue that is a non-issue is a “Senate vote declaring English as the official language of the U.S. Government.” This vote was on an amendment to a bill (S.1348, 2007) on comprehensive immigration reform. McCain voted yes and Obama voted no. But on a real issue that is part of the immigration debate, McCain joined with Ted Kennedy to sponsor an illegal-alien amnesty bill (S.1033, 2005). Why is that not included in this Christian Coalition voter guide?
Then there are the Senate votes “confirming Samuel Alito for Justice of the Supreme Court, and John Roberts for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” Again, McCain voted yes and Obama voted no. The idea here is that Alito and Roberts are conservative judges who will uphold the Constitution and not practice judicial activism. But as mentioned previously, McCain voted to confirm Clinton’s appointments of Stephen Breyer and Ruth Ginsburg, as well as Bush Sr.’s appointment of the liberal David Souter. Yet, McCain recently stated that as president he would not have appointed them. And although McCain has indicated that Bush appointments John Roberts and Samuel Alito “will serve as the model” for his judicial nominees, they both recently voted against the right of habeas corpus in the case of Boumediene v. Bush.
On the issue of increased “restrictions on purchase and possession of firearms,” McCain is said to oppose and Obama is said to support. But according to top officers of Gun Owners of America:
John McCain has actively worked against the Second Amendment and self-defense during his time in Congress. He also has been a spokesman for gun grabbers during state initiative campaigns.
Until recently, McCain was rated an F— by Gun Owners of America. He is now up to a C rating. What a coincidence that he started getting better on gun issues when was campaigning for president. Since the Second Amendment clearly says that the federal government has no authority to pass any law or regulation to infringe upon the right of Americans to keep and bear arms of whatever type they choose, anything short of an A means that one is weak on the Second Amendment.
The last two issues on the voter guide relate to taxes. McCain is said to support and Obama is said to oppose a “Senate vote to permanently repeal the u2018death tax’” and a “flat tax structure.” This implies, of course, that McCain is for lowering taxes. Sure, he has been better on tax issues since he began his campaign for president, but his historical record in the Senate is mixed. McCain voted against Bush’s 2001 tax cuts, although now he says that he is for making them permanent. He has voted against permanent repeal of the death tax more than he has voted for permanent repeal. He has voted against cutting capital gains tax rates. He voted for the recent Wall Street bailout that puts the taxpayers on the hook for $700 billion. He has always voted to fund the war in Iraq, a war that has thus far drained the taxpayers of almost $1 trillion. And so what if McCain favors a “flat tax structure.” Having a flat tax does not necessarily translate into lower taxes or a less progressive system, as I have recently written about here. If McCain is such a friend of the taxpayers then why has he never called for abolishing the income tax? Ron Paul has.
Should Christians be concerned about the views of candidates for public office? Certainly. Are they justified in trying to find candidates who are pro-life and favor traditional values? Of course. But they should also be interested in how candidates stand on liberty, the Constitution, and limited government.
Christians should strive to be accurately informed about the views of candidates on issues of importance. Unfortunately, the Christian Coalition’s voter guides fall short. They merely serve to perpetuate the myth that the Republican Party is the party of God instead of the party of interventionism, militarism, debt, deficits, the military-industrial complex, corporate welfare, crony capitalism, and compromise after compromise when it comes to more liberty and less government.