Tuesday, October 28, 2008

... Faith Priorities for the Election

I know many of you are tuning into my blog in hopes of catching some wedding pictures and stories. And while I look forward to sharing some highlights of our special day, I feel there's something far more important on the burner right now -- the upcoming election.

Jeff and I spend much of our time discussing politics and truly desire to live our beliefs out through our political views and actions. Because of this, I feel it's all the more appropriate to post this excellent, thought-provoking article by Jim Wallis as a follow up to the wedding week posts. (Kudo's to Catherine for pointing me to this article!)

Please, if you can find a minute, read the article. It's long, yes, but it's worth it. One thing you might notice is that one of Wallis' faith priorities - consistent ethic of life - is a theme I've been touching on quite a bit here lately... very much on my mind and heart.

I'd love to hear what your "faith priorities" are too... how do you decide your vote?

My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election
by Jim Wallis 10-23-2008

In 2004, several conservative Catholic Bishops and a few megachurch pastors like Rick Warren issued their list of “non-negotiables,” which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word “poverty,” only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of “non-negotiables.” The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.

I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of “faith priorities” that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of “faith” or “moral” priorities for this election year and take them into the polling place with you.

After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics. I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point. I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying. I was also saying that “God’s Politics” will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election, we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be “values voters” but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.

In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call “the common good,” and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.

I am in no position to tell anyone what is “non-negotiable,” and neither is any Bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the “faith priorities” and values I will be voting on this year:
  1. With more than 2,000 verses in the Bible about how we treat the poor and oppressed, I will examine the record, plans, policies, and promises made by the candidates on what they will do to overcome the scandal of extreme global poverty and the shame of such unnecessary domestic poverty in the richest nation in the world. Such a central theme of the Bible simply cannot be ignored at election time, as too many Christians have done for years. And any solution to the economic crisis that simply bails out the rich, and even the middle class, but ignores those at the bottom should simply be unacceptable to people of faith.

  2. From the biblical prophets to Jesus, there is, at least, a biblical presumption against war and the hope of beating our swords into instruments of peace. So I will choose the candidates who will be least likely to lead us into more disastrous wars and find better ways to resolve the inevitable conflicts in the world and make us all safer. I will choose the candidates who seem to best understand that our security depends upon other people’s security (everyone having “their own vine and fig tree, so no one can make them afraid,” as the prophets say) more than upon how high we can build walls or a stockpile of weapons. Christians should never expect a pacifist president, but we can insist on one who views military force only as a very last resort, when all other diplomatic and economic measures have failed, and never as a preferred or habitual response to conflict.

  3. “Choosing life” is a constant biblical theme, so I will choose candidates who have the most consistent ethic of life, addressing all the threats to human life and dignity that we face — not just one. 30,000 children dying globally each day of preventable hunger and disease is a life issue. The genocide in Darfur is a life issue. Health care is a life issue. War is a life issue. The death penalty is a life issue. And on abortion, I will choose candidates who have the best chance to pursue the practical and proven policies which could dramatically reduce the number of abortions in America and therefore save precious unborn lives, rather than those who simply repeat the polarized legal debates and “pro-choice” and “pro-life” mantras from either side.

  4. God’s fragile creation is clearly under assault, and I will choose the candidates who will likely be most faithful in our care of the environment. In particular, I will choose the candidates who will most clearly take on the growing threat of climate change, and who have the strongest commitment to the conversion of our economy and way of life to a cleaner, safer, and more renewable energy future. And that choice could accomplish other key moral priorities like the redemption of a dangerous foreign policy built on Middle East oil dependence, and the great prospects of job creation and economic renewal from a new “green” economy built on more spiritual values of conservation, stewardship, sustainability, respect, responsibility, co-dependence, modesty, and even humility.

  5. Every human being is made in the image of God, so I will choose the candidates who are most likely to protect human rights and human dignity. Sexual and economic slavery is on the rise around the world, and an end to human trafficking must become a top priority. As many religious leaders have now said, torture is completely morally unacceptable, under any circumstances, and I will choose the candidates who are most committed to reversing American policy on the treatment of prisoners. And I will choose the candidates who understand that the immigration system is totally broken and needs comprehensive reform, but must be changed in ways that are compassionate, fair, just, and consistent with the biblical command to “welcome the stranger.”

  6. Healthy families are the foundation of our community and nothing is more important than how we are raising up the next generation. As the father of two young boys, I am deeply concerned about the values our leaders model in the midst of the cultural degeneracy assaulting our children. Which candidates will best exemplify and articulate strong family values, using the White House and other offices as bully pulpits to speak of sexual restraint and integrity, marital fidelity, strong parenting, and putting family values over economic values? And I will choose the candidates who promise to really deal with the enormous economic and cultural pressures that have made parenting such a “countercultural activity” in America today, rather than those who merely scapegoat gay people for the serious problems of heterosexual family breakdown.
That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.

[from God's Politics Blog]


Anonymous said...

Hi Michelle! I actually had read this article..I'm on their mailing list. I wonder if you could describe for me your own non-negotiable...or deal breaker that would decide your vote...Is there one thing that overrides any other one of the important issues that would be the tipping point in the decision that you make at the poll?E-mail me...Love you!
Aunt Carrol

Catherine said...

Hey, that looks familiar!!! Michelle, you're so cool and hip - just like me. Way to go.

Ted said...

Michelle -- did you delete the comment I just left?

Catherine said...

Meesh, I know you get my sense of humour, but for other readers... that previous comment was really a joke. It was meant very tongue-in-cheek.

I in no way think I'm hip or cool or suggest anyone to follow me if they desire to be hip or cool. In fact, I'm just the opposite.

However, if you desire to be a crazy cat lady you could maybe learn a couple of things from me.

Love ya girl. Thanks for dinner.


Katherine M. said...

Michelle, Did you know that this administration has sent more money to help with AIDES in Africa than any administration before it? My cousin, Bill Steiger, is the one who has administered the finances. My cousin is probably what most of us would consider a moderate in his political views, but the left have been highly critical of him because the programs in Africa promote abstinence.
From what I understand, Barack Obama would not receive security clearance to work for the CIA or FBI because of his questionable loyalites to people like Ayers, Wright, and Khalidi?(Fox News 10/30/08)
Did you realize that Obama would not support legislation to provide medical aid to a baby who survives an abortion? Yes, we need to do all to implement deterents to abortion, but I don't want a president who sees abortion as an option.
Did you know the Democratic National Committee has as part of their platform a resolution that states that homeschooling doesn't provide a comprehensive education, and they oppose it. Obama is closely tied to the NEA and more than likely, with a Democratic majority in the House and Senate, the rights of parents to educate their children as they see fit may be in jeopardy.
I believe that, yes, we should care for the poor. I don't believe, however, that the government has the primary responsiblity for caring for the poor. We do! The church is responsible, and individuals are responsible. Obama has people within his own family who are poor. Why doesn't he help them out?
Why doesn't he use his great oratory skills to call upon those Americans with money to help the poor? I am from Bentonville, Arkansas, and know of a fabulous program that, Alice Walton, Sam Walton's daughter has created. She provided the funds to build a fabulous summer camp for children. Most of these children are not from well-to-do families. The parents pay some if they are able. After the first year of camp, the student agrees to make good grades in the next school year in order to come back to the camp the following summer. The American people can come up with innovative and cost effective programs like this one that will help their neighbors far better than the government. Can you think of one big government program that is doing its job well without waste and mismanagement?
I hope and pray that we as Christians will not be deceived by Obama's words. We need to look carefully at his record, at what he has said, and who he has associated himself with in the past in order to understand the vision he has for America.
These are just some of the issues that have helped me to determine who to vote for and why I would not vote for Obama.
I heard that you looked stunning on your wedding day. I'm looking forward to seeing pictures. With warm regards-krm

kendra said...

blech. is it tuesday yet?

Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting this article. It presents an excellent challenge to the American to vote with integrity and a specific challenge to Christians to spread the issues out before the Lord before Tuesday...



Sarah said...

I too support "a consistent ethic of life". However, I fail to see how someone who has vowed to make partial birth abortion legal can be described this way. Wallace has pretty much said that abortion will never be banned in this country and is offering an "alternative pro-life platform" and suggesting that abortion reduction will result in a more pro-life outcome. I personally can't wrap my mind around the logic that says removing all restrictions on abortion will somehow decrease it.

Our unborn children are truly the most vulnerable, defenseless and innocent among us. It breaks my heart that so many Pro Life people seem to be giving up the fight. I keep thinking abaout William Wilberforce. What if he had quit?

I have never been a one issue voter. This is not the only issue to consider and is definitely not the only reason I will vote the way I will. However, in my mind and in my heart, it is by far the most important reason that I will vote for John McCain.


Catherine said...

We'll all just have to agree to disagree for now. But in the words of McCain last night:

"I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences, and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited...."

Now that's a classy guy! That's the McCain I remember from a few years ago.

Meesh, hope you're resting up from your long day and night. Email me when you're awake :)

Jessica Rockey said...

Whoaaa guys! You mean to tell me that there are christians out there voting for Obama?!
Where have I been?

Jessica Rockey said...

I'm sorry friends... just kidding.
Many people 'freaked out' when I shared the fact that I was undecided a few months ago... It's getting tough for me... we can't assume that one particular party has the moral high ground... both parties are flawed, both have there strengths. Apart from my faith based issues, one thing is going back in history and knowing what our country was founded on... upholding the constitution... not changing it. Also, looking at the right man (or woman) for the job instead of dwelling on party lines.
Honestly... wonderful article, Michelle. Thanks for sharing it.