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Readers comment on ‘values voter’ issue


More comments from The Christian Chronicle’s interviews with church members and political scientists across the nation:
Keith Brumley, 40, minister, Northtown church, Milwaukee: “I no longer vote. Of course I am aware of the apolitical leanings of men like James Harding and David Libscomb. But my background doesn’t really play into my deciding not to vote. I have decided that the British political philosopher Lord Acton was correct – ‘Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.’ I no longer care to encourage the rampant corruption of the political process by voting.”
Daniel C. Truitt, 64, deacon, Beltline church, Decatur, Ala.: “I don’t really consider myself a hard-line member of any party. Between the Democrats and Republicans, I vote for the person whom I feel has the most potential for upholding and advancing Christian principles, regardless of their party affiliation.
“My parents were Democrats and I probably feel more a part of that party than the Republicans, but I happily voted for Bush in 2004. I very much did not want John Kerry as president of the United States. I will never vote for a person just because they are a member of the Democratic Party. If I feel that both candidates (Democrat and Republican) are equally qualified for an office, I will vote for the Democratic candidate.
“I make no apologies for seeking candidates that I feel, as I mentioned earlier, have the most potential for upholding and advancing Christian principles. On issues that I feel have a bearing on Christian values (and others as well), whether or not my candidate of choice is elected, I communicate with the incumbents to let them know my wishes before a vote on a bill, etc., and I communicate with them afterward to let them know how I feel about their stand on an issue (or lack of it).
“I believe that one of the gravest – if not THE gravest – issue facing the church today is that of decaying morals. Morality for the Christian is not based on public consensus of what is right and wrong. Morality is based on Biblical principals that don’t change with time. place, or public opinion. Morality can’t be legislated in the courts of this county or any other country, for that matter.
“I believe it behooves us as New Testament Christians to do everything we can to insure that our elected officials share our concerns for creating and maintaining laws that support an enforce principles of living that are in concert with those we read about in the Bible.”
Dee Ann Andrews, member, Picayune, Miss., church: “As a Christian, our values are those set by Jesus (I believe) most of all in his “Sermon on the Mount” found in Matt. 5, 6 & 7 and in Matt. 25:31-46. I believe these are the values that should guide us in all we do and lead us to act accordingly in each and every situation we find ourselves in whether in a voting booth or solidier’s trench or Christian serving in whatever capacity in life, work, family and in all Godliness.
“I consider myself an Independent, but have always voted Republican and lean much more that direction than toward Democrats because of basic family values and platforms of the parties.
“My faith has everything to do with how I vote. Absolutely. I would not say my Church of Christ background plays a role other than the because of the Biblical principles on which it stands. That, to me, is the biggest factor.”
Glenda Gail “for Rail” Parker, 59, independent candidate on the ballot in Virginia for U.S. Senate, and member, Falls Church, Va., congregation: “Our values help define everything we do and every decision we make. I decided to run for public office. Our campaign is about family, faith and values. The government’s budget is a reflection of our values as a nation. We need to pay attention to how much money is being spent (federal budget this year is $2.7 trillion, federal debt is $8.394 trillion, this year’s forecast deficit is $300 billion). The nation’s budget reflects our values.
“We Independent Greens are fiscally conservative, socially responsible and concerned about family, faith, the national debt and the environment.
“Certainly, our values affect every decision we make. My values were established in a Christian household, with Christian guidance.
“Without a doubt, if it were not for our addiction to foreign oil we would not be in Iraq. We are need to place candidates into the Congress that advocate for rail because rail can cut our dependency on foreign oil, let us get out of that mess and enable us to balance the federal budget. Therefore, I will vote this year and next for candidates that advocate for rail.
“Voting and being informed on the issues is no longer enough. We can’t continue to send millionaires and lawyers to the Congress and expect them to represent the interests of the rest of us. We in the middle-class need to take a more active part in our representational democracy by running for office ourselves. Please run for office next year and please advocate for rail.”
Jenna Smith, 47, preschool teacher and Bible class leader at Edmond, Okla., church: “I want someone who has the same values as I do, a Christian, pro-life, against same-sex marriages and immoral behavior are just a few. There are certainly more. I feel that it is important for our country to have these type of leaders to keep evil from corrupting our society. If that person is a Democrat and the Republican candidate did not have the same values as I do, then I would vote for the Democrat.”
Lori Walle, 48, member of Memorial Road church, Oklahoma City: “I will still support Republicans, but I am disgusted that sometimes politicians seem to be all alike as in wasting money, lapses in moral values or good judgment, etc. Still I believe that most Republicans represent my values and priorities better than most Democrats, so will vote Republican unless I have a reason not to in an individual case.
“Please encourage people to vote on Nov. 7 and not be so disgusted that they stay away from the polls. That will not help solve anything. What is that saying about all it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing?”
Neal Pollard, 36, minister, Bear Valley church, Denver: “I try to vote for candidates whose stated (and where possible to ascertain, substantiated) values reflect most closely those of God’s Word
“I am a bit worried that the Republican Party has softened and moderated its stance on especially moral issues (homosexuality, abortion).”
Phil Sanders, 54, minister, Concord Road church, Brentwood, Tenn.: “I believe that I should vote for those who more closely follow the will of God and who reflect my views on life, freedom of religion and morality.”
Regarding the House page scandal involving disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley: “It is sad when people allow the moral lives to degenerate to the point that they feel the need to prey upon minors. Secret sin also speaks to the character. He was right to resign. Those who knew about the IMs are also at fault, whoever they are. To know about sexual abuse on a minor and not report it to authorities is a punishable crime.”
“I believe that President Bush’s strong stand against the Muslim terrorists keeps the war in Iraq. If we were not fighting the extremists there, they would surely come to the U.S.A. I support our military and our president.”
Russ Holden, 53, minister, Grandville, Mich., church: “A values voter is anyone who uses ethical considerations as a major factor in casting his or her ballot. In the messy real world, this can lead to opposite choices. For example, a pacifist might have voted against Bush in 2004, while someone concerned about right to life issues and the Supreme Court could have voted for Bush. Both would hold a value that determined their choice.
“Right to life and family issues are very important to me. I also believe there is a comparison between theological liberals and political liberals. Both view their primary document as a ‘living document’ which allows for changes that a strict adherence to author’s intent does not.”
Russ Sharp, 43, member, Edmond, Okla., church: ”I am a very disloyal Democrat. Both sides of the aisle must have people dedicated to God-centered values. Otherwise, the entire political spectrum will be dragged further and further toward a philosophy whereby the ‘interference’ of godly ideals in the political process will not be tolerated.
“I make my decisions based on the views of the individual candidates — not the official party platform. Since President Bush is prohibited from seeking another term, I will have to wait and see who makes it to the general election ballot.
“My faith does (play a role in how I vote). Whether or not ‘my Church of Christ background’ does is a loaded question. It’s not as ‘cut-and-dried’ an issue as some think. Where I lived the first half of my life, one of the most conservative men I ever knew (biblically) was the county chairman for the Democrat party. In nationwide political races, morals have been simply a ‘whistle stop’ issue to entice voters many times, rather than being something that the candidates consistently use to guide their voting decisions. In some areas of the nation, however, the differences between the parties do seem to coincide roughly with moral convictions.”
Stephen Michael Kellat, 25, member, Tafuna church, American Samoa: “I do try to vote against candidates favoring immoral things. I do not think, though, that David Lipscomb’s views espoused in On Civil Government relative to disengagement from the world by not voting and other acts is best in today’s world. The rush towards raw majoritarian democracy in this democratic republic of ours means that such disengagement from voting ends up putting a major bulls-eye on members of congregations overall. If we fail to defend our right there are a whole lotta folks in the world today who want to take such away and otherwise muzzle the church to where it is nothing more than a debating society with Southern roots.
“It is hard to reconcile the Kingdom imagery of the Bible with life in a democratic republic like the United States of America. Such shows a major gap in cultural understanding. Such was easier for Alexander Campbell, perhaps, having come from the land then known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. This is a major challenge today especially in terms of perhaps reassessing Lipscomb’s words in On Civil Government.”
Stephen Morris, 41, a political science professor at Freed-Hardeman University and Bible school teacher, song leader and deacon at Henderson, Tenn., church: “Although I am concerned about values in the public realm, that is not my sole or primary criteria for choosing candidates.
“A ‘values voter’ is one who makes voting decisions based primarily on a candidate’s position on certain moral issues, such as abortion and gay marriage.
“The Republican Party still best represents my conservative political philosophy and my views on a broad range of public policy issues.
“I vote because I believe the Bible teaches that God expects us, as Christians, to be exemplary citizens (see especially Titus 3 and I Peter 2), and we are blessed to live in a country where all citizens have the opportunity (civic responsibility actually) to participate in the political process.
“When I vote, one factor I consider is whether the policies advocated by the candidate and his/her party are consistent with biblical principles.”
Steve Shaner, member, Naperville, Ill., church: “If governments are ordained by God, then we have an obligation to participate in many ways to see that his will is carried out. We, as Christians, should be voting along lines of those who can bring about truth and morality. If that is a Democrat, or Republican, or otherise, we should participate in the best was we can.”

Nov. 1, 2006

Filed under: People

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