The Christian Agenda

The 2016 primaries have come to the Bible Belt. Already politicians are competing for the evangelical vote.

For too long we progressive Christians have allowed evangelicals to be spokespersons for the Gospel. In fact, in the minds of many outside the Christian faith, “Christian” and “conservative” are synonymous. Evangelicals tend to preach against homosexuality and gay marriage, abortion, the evils of banning prayers in public schools, the war on Christmas. As a result, their followers block entrances to Planned Parenthood, write letters to the editor of local newspapers, run for office, refuse to marry gay couples.

Most importantly, they vote.

As a Christian, but—for lack of a better label—a liberal Christian, I’ve had the privilege to listen to the sermons of outstanding progressive/liberal clergy. At election time I’ve noticed they tend to be quiet, as if they don’t want to offend or use their position of influence to sway decisions. As usual they assure us of God’s love. We’re to help the poor and needy. We’re to confess ours sins. We’re to act with courage. We’re to speak out against injustice. All as if an election is not approaching.

In a political advertisement, Marco Rubio says voters will decide” what kind of country America is going to be in the twenty-first century.” On CNN Franklin Graham encouraged evangelicals to vote and to “stand for biblical principles.”

No doubt my list of biblical principles won’t correspond with Graham’s. Yet as a progressive/liberal Christian, I am one whose faith influences my voting. I will be looking for candidates who in their words and past actions have demonstrated the following: 1) a compassion for the poor, the refugee, the marginalized; 2) a concern for God’s creation, that is environmental issues; and 3) a commitment to justice—racial, gender, economic, criminal.

I’m not suggesting that liberal clergy tell us who to vote for. But we need to hear them apply ancient truths to current events. Together we need a more public struggle about what God requires of us as American citizens, what kind of country we’re going to be. Whether or not we liberals speak boldly about biblical principles, we can be sure our evangelical sisters and brothers will be promoting an agenda we do not share.

Nancy Werking Poling is author of Had Eve Come First and Jonah Been a Woman (Wipf & Stock, 2010), a collection of short stories in which the author imagines heroes of Hebrew Scripture as women; and Out of the Pumpkin Shell (Spinsters Ink, 2009), a laugh/cry novel about women’s friendship and family secrets.

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7 thoughts on “The Christian Agenda

  1. I learned from a PBS documentary on religion in the U.S., that evangelicals (of whom I am one) have historically resisted being involved in these rat races. I know it’s hard to fathom, Nancy, but even though I’m a feminist and a college graduate, I haven’t voted in 20 years, so I can verify that, at least in my case, the PBS report is correct. Perhaps even more difficult to fathom, is the reality that not all feminists fit the stereotype. I know you understand that as a Christian and a feminist yourself. I learned from that documentary that Jerry Falwell whipped up a frenzy of voting among the theretofore disenfranchised evangelicals during the Reagan era, only to have them completely betrayed by business as usual. And ya know what? Thousands of these people to this day do not know that Reagan never intended to do one thing for their causes, particularly on the abortion issue, and he never did. It’s all a dog & pony show. The people we always elect by the principle of the cult of personality are actors on a stage, and when they have aspirations like Jimmy Carter to go against the grain, they get fired. The question I wish more people would ask is: who is backstage running this show. How could anyone believe Donald Duck might become the POTUS. Even the cult of personality demands that the cover-girl appear somehow “presidential.” People actually believe this stuff. And the same people believe that the designer of the Volkswagon Bug almost succeeded in taking over the world like a comic book super villain. What is wrong with this picture? Do you see what I mean? I’m sincerely not interested in being argumentative or contrary or ill-mannered. I’m simply on a mission in my very small way to encourage people to think critically about everything. Absolutely everything.

    • Virginia, pardon my belated reply. I too believe that we must ask ourselves and others who is backstage. For example, we know that the oil industry wanted the invasion of Iraq. And of course I can’t help but wonder who benefits from our lax gun laws.

      Jerry Falwell surely did change evangelicals’ reluctance to get involved in the political dialogue, and there seems no turning back. With evangelical activism now an on-going endeavor, and with what I consider an especially dangerous time for our country, I feel compelled to speak out about the Jesus I follow.

      Thanks for staying in dialogue.
      Nancy

      I have no illusions about the machine that greases politics. However,

      • Reply doesn’t seem to work anymore on your page: Hi, okay, yeah I was pretty riled up there. My money would be on Hillary at this point for the same reasons above, if I had money, which I don’t. Ha! But yeah, the Donald certainly outed the silliest bigots. Underbelly of America exposed! Yay. Good work, Don. There is only one Jesus and we are all worshipping the same God, just in different ways. It’s when we corrupt that by thinking we know who God is better than others do. That’s exactly what’s wrong. People just will not admit that we are all the same like water and different like snowflakes, all created equally beautiful out of the same material. People would rather view life like it’s a football game. American politics has absolutely nothing to do with ideology. But it is a fabrication that people buy into.

        Thanks, Va.

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

      • Virginia,
        Pardon my belated reply. I can’t seem to juggle my time between maintaining my blog and writing fiction.

        Two months later and Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee. If we were scared before… And yes, the bigotry of much of the American public has been exposed.

        I haven’t figured out the “reply” technology either. Keep trying, please.

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