Friday, December 08, 2006

Christian Coalition Flap

I was wanting to write a long post about the story of the president-elect of the Christian Coalition Joel Hunter stepping down because the group resisted his efforts to expand the agenda beyond homosexuality and abortion to include poverty and global warming. I was going to, but political commentator Stephen Colbert said it much much better.

I'm not sure if Colbert is right about the reason that they didn't want to expand, i.e. afraid of being called liberal. If that's true, they really need to get over that. The simple fact of the matter is that we have to recognize that there are issues that transcend right and left. Poverty has to be one of those. Global warming, whether you believe it's a bad as reported, should be a part of that too. Abortion should be as well, but instead of picketing abortion clinics, how about standing at abortion clinics with a sign that says, "I'll adopt your child." These are issues I talked about in a bit more depth in a post called The Political Liberalization of Evangelicalism, a title that attempted to have the most syllables in the fewest amount of words (19 in 5 if you're counting, or even if you're not).

It seems that an ethic of love calls us to address these issues, but without the hatred and divisiveness that has been the tradition in these conversations.


Tony Arnold said...

These issues are not new. I am reading Tempting Faith by David Kuo and recounts much of the same thing from the Republican party in the Clinton and early Bush years.

The book is a must read for all Christians who wrestle with their faith v. politics (which in my opinion a disciple should also be doing). He steps through every thought and emotion that we have so often discussed on our blogs.

I plan on blogging on the book some. Here is a quote that relates to your post.

Team Ashcroft name our new proposal "Charitble Choice". ... [Ashcroft] tested the [Presidential] waters by delivering a series of harshly conservative public messages...Charitable Choice, however, was conspicously absent from his politicking. As one of his closest aides would later say of the decision, "Republican primary voters, most of whom are conservative Christians, don't really care about poverty issues."
But after scores of conversations with Quayle's donors and with potential donors I had contacted on my own, another conclusion presented itself--big Republican donors were not interested in funding anti-poverty programs. Had I called with a proposal for a new political organizatin that took on the Clintons, funding would have been lavish. That wasn't speculation; it is what donors told me.

On the other hand, the recent report from 20/20 (see my post Heart and Money, Part 3), shows that one reason for this is that conservatives don't feel the government is responsible for this, but individuals are and they do not support poverty legislation. But conservatives do give more directly to charities (hopefully among those are poverty related) than do liberals.


Justin said...

I think there are probably a number of Republichristian voters who don't care about poverty, but I think the biggest thing is that poverty relief doesn't get people out to vote like gay marriage or abortion. So they've stuck to those two issues to make sure they get the vote out.

And like Tony said, many conservatives are giving to charities and poverty relief organizations. Many of them have a distrust of the government (that is well deserved). The government is motivated by different things than the church is motivated by... and it shows in their actions when helping the poor. The government's answer to fighting poverty is to dump more money into programs (many of which, until recently, offered no incentive to get out of poverty) while the private sector often addresses the root of problems and attempts to solve them.

Its why I'd rather the federal government give dollar for dollar tax credits for money donated to poverty relief organizations.

Chris said...

Syracuse professor Arthur Brooks, in his book "Who Really Cares" says that conservatives give four times as much to charity as liberals do and also if liberals donated blood as much as conservatives, the blood supply would rise 45%.

Just look at the tax returns of Dick Cheney and Al Gore. Al Gore gave very little while Dick Cheney gave millions.

Chris said...

I attend pastor Joel's church and have had some soul searching to do recently, because he talks about global warming quite a bit.

I personally think global warming (or the fact that it's caused by us) isn't something we can really have an effect on. But, that's besides the point.

I respect Joel for being involved in those conversations. It's almost as if many Christians (the Coalition is a great example) want to leave issues other than abortion & homosexuality to non-Christians. Since when were we supposed to not be involved in our world.

Joel wants to engage the world & the issues that are important to eveyone, not just ultra-Conservative Christians.

Phil said...

Chris, that's why it's very easy to get cynical about the Christian Coalition and think that they are simply in these issues, because they are hot button issues for voters and they don't want to expand out to issues that Jesus actually spoke directly about, like poverty (not global warming).

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