God doesn’t love Republicans more

For most people, the phrase “right-wing Republican” depicts crazed evangelical Christians who passionately picket in front of abortion clinics and argue for more prayer in schools.
Many liberals characterize political conservatives as people with a moral agenda to convince the rest of the nation to adopt their Judeo-Christian beliefs. I’m offended by this stereotyping, which is no better than making assumptions about other groups of people, like homosexuals, Jews or blacks.
Over the years, groups such as conservative Christians have become synonymous with certain political issues such as public school prayer and abortion. The most extreme of the faithful have earned the negative image often portrayed in the media, but the majority of them are plain good people with good intentions, and increasing political clout.
In the last several elections, groups such as the Christian Coalition, for example, have succeeded in organizing their efforts to influence politicians. And though the Christian Coalition claims to be nonpartisan, its power to influence voters has become the fascination of political scientists and the frustration of liberals.
Though religious groups have had political ties throughout U.S. history, Christian conservatives have organized with unprecedented force in recent years. Yet, the cross between religion and politics seems to be one of the most misunderstood issues today.
At the University, some of the most heated debates have been over religious-political issues. When several students, backed by conservative religious groups, filed a lawsuit against some student-fees-sponsored groups, the Daily’s letters to the editor page was flooded by supporters of both sides. The campus has also witnessed arguments about hanging biblical messages across the student union and the preachers on the mall who visit every spring.
As a politically left-of-center individual, I know that the actions of some Christians instantly gain negative, even repulsed reactions from the general public. But before drawing hasty conclusions, one must understand from what viewpoint Christians are coming.
I grew up in an evangelical Christian household and was quite active in church during high school. My parents both had gone through mid-life religious transformations, and they wanted their children to grow up with the Christian spirituality they never knew until adulthood.
My parents’ faith is strong. Like many conservative Christians, they believe in an afterlife; God rules the heavens while Satan exerts influence over the Earth.
They believe there lies a battlefield between God and Satan in the souls of people on Earth. Men and women choose to serve one side or the other. Serving yourself counts for serving Satan.
And as strange as it may seem to atheists and nonbelievers, Christians see our nation’s politics, like the abortion issue, as a representation of the battle between good and evil.
To many of them, the abortion issue is not only a matter of determining when life begins and how to protect it — it’s about saving the souls of children, the most innocent of all put on Earth. So you can see, just like the religious divisions of the Middle East, Christian conservatives believe they must fight for God’s will.
As Americans, we fight for what we believe is right in the world. We also strongly believe in justice and the freedom to serve one’s God, whomever and whatever that may be. What conservative Christians and liberals don’t seem to understand about each other is that they are both exercising this American prerogative.
Though one’s personal religious beliefs make up a part of how one votes on certain political issues, conservative Christian groups have gone too far by using religion to influence politics.
My family and I continuously debate this issue. I believe in the Christian Bible, but I don’t agree that my spirituality should manifest itself when I’m at the ballot box.
Many evangelical Christians have confused their obligations to the church and other religious organizations with their own personal relationship with God.
It’s not like all pastors stand up and say, “Newt Gingrich needs your letters of support,” but some churches nearly perform the equivalent. In March, one million of the Christian Coalition’s voting guides, pamphlets that state candidates’ views on topics such as gay marriages and school prayer, were stuffed into church bulletins in a Texas church.
Leaders of groups like the Christian Coalition know the strength of such voting guides. “Anybody who runs in the Republican primary, who ignores the social conservatives, Christian conservatives, does it at their own peril,” anti-abortion activist Bill Price told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Regardless of one’s religion, voting guides passed out at churches should send up red flags. We vote for candidates and subscribe to political views because of a combination and often compromise many of the beliefs we hold. While one’s spirituality or religion should guide one’s morals, the church should not suggest or “guide” its members about how they should vote.
God did not tell pastors and ministers how to lead our nation’s politics. It’s not written in the Bible that we should vote Republican.
Even if spiritual leaders of one religion or another encourage their congregations about who should be the next president, how far down the political ladder does this practice extend? Should religious beliefs dictate who should be mayor or on the city council? In lower-level politics, some of the Christian issues will never surface anyway. The mayor has more daily influence over how your trash is picked up than whether abortion is legal.
According to the Christian belief, each person is born with free will. If Christians can choose to accept God, why can’t they choose for whom they will vote without the suggestions of religious organizations?
Each person holds her political beliefs on the basis of personal experiences, moral beliefs and good judgment. Religion should certainly play a part, but no one should be made to feel that because he belongs to a certain religion, he should belong to a corresponding political party.
Americans were born with a unique freedom of religion and right to vote for how the country will be lead politically. These rights should be exercised, but they shouldn’t be interchanged.
Sara Goo’s column appears every Tuesday. She welcomes e-mail comments at [email protected]