The Republican Party and conservative Evangelicals and Protestants that supported and voted for Mitt Romney are now analyzing the after-election tallies and theorizing the shortfall they expected in votes. The statistics showed that 78% of Evangelicals voted for Romney and 21% for Obama.
Mike Huckabee, and others, posit that much of the blame for the 3 million vote shortfall lay with Christians that did not get out and vote. Oh, we voted; we just did not vote for Mitt Romney. Christian does not necessarily equal Republican anymore. Many of us voted for a man and a party that we feel better reflect our Christian values.
Here is a list of why my personal Christian values are no longer in alignment with what has become the Republican Party over the last thirty years:
Since the ‘80s, the GOP has married religion and politics together in an unholy union. “Dominionists” are a variety of Christians that seek to control the government through political action. They adhere to a fear-filled view of the world where everything outside their brand of Christianity is apt to destroy the country and the faith. As a Christian, I see my role as one willing to love and serve, not one that seeks to dominate. The Christians that have risen to the top of the GOP, and heavily influence it through lobbying, do not resemble the Jesus I seek to emulate.
- The GOP/dominionist blending created the “culture wars,” affixing the dividing line on the church lawn as to who is and who is not a “real” Christian. The test was no longer claiming Jesus as LORD in one’s life; it now included views on abortion, same-sex marriage and even global warming. On one side of the line, there were obedient Republican Christians; on the other side, there were liberal heretics. Christians are called to be peacemakers, not those that antagonistically create “wars” in our culture.
- The Republican/dominionist mash-up came in through the backdoor of our churches this election season with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) group (the new name of Alliance Defense Fund, a severelyanti-gay group). They created “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.” ADF encouraged pastors and churches to participate in an act of civil disobedience specifically intended to counter IRS restrictions banning churches from endorsing a candidate. Over 1,900 churches (the overwhelming bulk were Evangelical and Protestant) participated in presidential and other endorsements from the pulpit. As a Christian, I am called to obey the law unless the law is inhumane. The contractual arrangement of every tax exempt church is an agreement to stay out of the election process.
- The Republican Party used Super PACs like the Faith & Freedom Coalition (FFC) to stock a record 30 million “Voter Values Guides” in 117,000 churches; those guides directed the faithful to vote against Obama. FFC sent out 24 million pieces of mail and made 26 million phone calls in the name of Dr. James Dobson and the American Family Association (also on the SPLC hate groups list) and other conservative family groups to remind voters that traditional family values would only be found and supported in the GOP. The FFC was one group funded under the $300 million Karl Rove fiasco. I do not expect political forces to enter my house of worship in an effort to influence my vote. When I saw some Value Voter Guides on my church’s information desk one Sunday, I reacted. They were gone the next week.
- The Republican Party/dominionists told us that the Affordable Care Act (that is what it is called, not “Obamacare”) is not good for this nation. Do you know that the number one cause of people ending up on the streets and in shelters is the financial burden of medical bills? My faith is very clear about the compassion I am to show to the poor and homeless and the care that I am to extend and have for others. That does include medical and health care.
The Republican Party tries to convince me they care about me as a woman. But the party and their Presidential candidate did not support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act as it made its way through Congress. When the bill first came to the Senate, the Republicans blocked it; they also did the same in the House. It was only when a few Republicans and Independents crossed party lines that the Bill passed and Obama signed it.
How is this conscionable behavior? Sixty percent of college students are women; we are educated. This is not my mother’s world anymore. My mother graduated high school; I graduated Engineering School; and my daughter is getting her master’s degree in Public Policy. I am fully equal and capable and expect to be treated as such. Jesus came to elevate women; I share His valuation of women, with which the Republican party seems chronically out of step.
- I am looking for a Party that reflects the whole of this country. When I watched the Republican National Convention, I strained to see any people of color. I attended a local Paul Ryan rally in my city and, with over a thousand people there, there was not one person of color in attendance. Almost one-quarter of my county is Hispanic; likewise, that was not reflected in the crowd. I want to be associated with a group that better represents what this country is compromised of–a beautiful mosaic of colors and races.
- When the religious right within the Republican party abused the legacy of Billy Graham to foster the anti-gay vote, they pushed me over a never-to-return ledge. After 38 years and 10 presidential elections of remaining non-political, did they expect me to listen to Franklin Graham’s great hoax in which he told the church that Billy, who has had Alzheimer’s for over four years, now craved waffle fries and endorsed a political candidate? Some people will believe what is most expedient and supports their dogma; the veneer on this particular stunt, however, was so thin. When I realized it was impacting people I had known and worshiped with for decades, I was incensed that this manipulation was being used.
Five years ago, and hey, even during the primaries this year, Christian leaders were warning the church about the “evils of Mormonism.” Last election season, the mantra, “I would never vote for a Mormon,” was oft repeated. Well, you know what? All things being equal, I would not vote for a Mormon either. I did have a choice between two candidates, and only one of them aligned with my definition of “Christian.” So I voted for him.
- Billy Graham, oh, pardon, Franklin Graham, wanted Christians to believe that Romney’s Mormon faith no longer mattered as it had five years ago, even five months ago. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website removed the page citing Mormonism as a cult the day Billy/Franklin endorsed Romney.
Even Rev. Robert Jeffress (Dallas First Baptist mega-church pastor) who, when introducing Rick Perry at the 2012 Values Voter Summit, called Perry the “real” Christian over Romney’s apparent “fake” Christian. But, the week prior to the election, Jeffress announced from his pulpit that voting for Obama would “pave the way for the future reign of the anti-Christ.” Jeffress did not believe Obama’s personal Christian testimony and was now endorsing the Mormon he spoke of in mocking tones just months before. Do the Republican dominionists think I have amnesia and forget all these antics?
The GOP wants me to agree that same-sex marriage is going to destroy my family, this country, and the institution of marriage itself. Well, I did buy into that for my first two decades in the faith. But then, oops, I bumped into gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
I saw love in their relationships and understood the need to protect their unions and families along with other families. I will now vote pro-equality in every election. The propaganda pumped out by the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage was abominable: Republican candidates signed pledges in unanimity vowing to continue to protect the Defense of Marriage Act, promising to bring back “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and to block same-sex marriage at a federal level; this all sent my equality-focused mind into a tailspin. Supporting a party or candidates that would intentionally discriminate in the role of public servant is beyond my understanding as a Christian.
- The Republican Party is anti-abortion. Honestly, I get that. As best as I can, I hold in my head and heart, being pro-life and for the choice of a woman. Even taking “rape” off the table (I think the GOP has learned that lesson), religious dictates of moral issues is not appropriate.
Romney’s intention to defund services like Planned Parenthood where many poor women get minimal health care, screenings and birth control, is cruel. My faith causes me to have compassionate understanding in many circumstances I may not personally opt for or choose.
- Further, while on the subject of compassion, I think we need to find creative and humane answers to immigration. Republicans are known for their staunch “fence-building” mentality.The Dream Act is one such compassionate Christian response to ensure the protection of immigrants’ children.
I had an interesting experience in 2008 in the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport while waiting for a connecting flight via Salt Lake City back to Reno. I had been attending a conference for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians and their allies. After four days without internet, I wanted to get online. For solitude, I went to a completely empty seating area at a nearby gate.
I was there just a few minutes when a man sat in the seat right next to me. I was a bit annoyed; I wanted to be alone. A few minutes later a woman, I rightly assumed as his wife, joined him with her very lovely luggage and left it with him telling him “I am going to shop in the gift stores.” I kept my head down, still intent on being alone but did notice, “Gosh, this man has very nicely pressed jeans, great cowboy boots and a well-pressed shirt.” I never looked at his face; I wanted to write.
A few minutes passed and people from our nearby departure gate started flocking to our “empty” seating area. They were whispering, “Is it him, is it him?” From the whispers, I realized I was sitting next to Mitt Romney. I later read that he had been in Arizona for a conclave of potential Vice Presidential candidates with John McCain.
I am an easy conversationalist and I have a strong sense to listen to the “God voice” inside. Realizing I was possibly sitting next to the next Vice President of the United States, I wondered, “Should I talk to him?” I honestly did not care about the star-quality celebrity status issue. I was prayerfully asking my internal monitor, “Do I talk to him about value and respect for the LGBT community and tell him where I just spent the weekend, with hundreds of LGBT Christians?”
The answer came back, “Don’t waste your time. He will not hear you.” So, I kept my head down and continued working.
After awhile, picture snapping and hand shaking ensued. The favorite state son was heading home to Utah on a plane filled with admirers. I ignored Mitt Romney. Nothing drew me to him; I did not sense receptivity.
And four years later, still, nothing drew me to him.
On my 18th birthday, I excitedly went to the Town Hall in Tenafly, NJ and registered as a Republican. I have voted in ten presidential elections and in every election throughout my adult life, never missing one opportunity.
I became a Christian 30 years ago and the principles of the what the Republican Party has become do not reflect my strong Christians principles. I am not interested in culture wars and division and exclusivity. With an arrogant blend of skewed Christianity and politics, they have driven people like me away. They are a party that seeks to use power to legally discriminate and withhold rights from others; I am strongly for equality.
To my fellow Christians who are red-faced and wanting to scream the words “fiscal responsiblity” at me, my life verse is a collection of instructions from Isaiah 58:6-12. God speaks through Isaiah and tells the people (paraphrased): stop doing all those things you think please me and make you look holy. Here is what I asked you to do — fight against oppression, break the chains of injustice, share your food with the hungry, take care of the homeless. And in exchange, I, God, will ensure that your lives will become new, all men will see My light in you, I will answer your prayers, I will fill your lives with My things and make you healthy and give you names of honor in your communities.
And, I actually believe this and attempt to live my life in this manner.
As a straight Christian advocate for full inclusion of LGBT Christians in the church, I get plenty of mail. A few years ago, it trickled in; I would do a happy dance when I received an “I get it” letter. Now, that “I get it” mail pours in. Christians in growing numbers, both straight and LGBT are weary of a party and version of faith that is more known for what they are against, than what they are for.
Maybe we are the 3 million vote short fall. We voted; we just did not vote against our Christians principles. We voted with them, and we voted for Obama.
[This is a post outside of the norm of my quasi-non-political genre. I have commented on policies, marriage equality, DOMA, Don't Ask Don't Tell. I have avoided posting on my blog any opinion on the 2012 Presidential Election. This post is written in the persona of me, Kathy Baldock, not Canyonwalker Connections.
This is the only avenue I have to make widely public, my impressions on the election. The GOP would be wise to realize that I am not an anomaly; I am a growing segment of the Evangelical movement.]