When you think about the Christian Right, and a host of politically charged issues, which one of these issues most motivates evangelical conservatives in terms of their actual voting behavior? I admit I could not have guessed this until Governor Mitt Romney announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination on June 2nd.

images What causes the Christian Right to specifically oppose Mitt Romney? Take a guess? You think it is his Mormonism? Try again. What about his previously moderate position on both gay rights and abortion, a position which he changed when he last ran for the nomination of his party? Guess again. Or what about his experience in running a business or a government agency? Guess again. What about foreign affairs, wars overseas that continue to increase national debt and remain morally questionable? Guess again.

The issue that truly motivates socially conservative voters, which is of course the largest share of so-called evangelicals, is Obamacare! Social conservatives cast 2 of every 5 Republican votes. They consistently place the repeal of Obamacare at the top of their “to do” list for the next president.

The issue is clear — Mitt Romney promoted and signed a health care reform act in Massachusetts. Now, as an extremely weak front-runner, Romney faces this single issue that will most turn off social conservatives say the polls and the pundits.

Dr. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist public policy agency in Washington, says Mormonism is not Romney’s biggest issue with his conservative constituency. For them, Land said, “It is ‘Romneycare’ because evangelicals are implacably opposed to ‘Obamacare.’ They loathe and detest it.” That statement jumps out at me to tell you the truth.

Don’t get me wrong. I am concerned about the health care legislation that was passed last year. I think we could have done far better without creating the debt-loaded law that we got from Congress. But is this “the” really big issue for evangelicals and social conservatives? Everything says that it is.

I have to wonder how many of these people really know what the bill says and what it is doing or will yet do? I have to admit that my knowledge is skimpy but I have read my share of the pros and cons and actually read a book on the subject that is considered non-partisan. I told someone last week, “I don’t think we really know what this huge change will do until we see it actually unfold.” That makes it very problematic for me since it allows government to grow in a way that will likely increase our debt, interfere with our personal choice and even infringe on ethical questions as well, at least if the worst fears about it play out. But having said that I still wonder why healthcare is “the single issue” that creates fear and loathing among conservative Christians.

There are a whole collection of moral issues that Christian public policy speaks about much more clearly than the pros and cons of Obamacare. I am inclined to think that Fox News, and a host of talk shows that some Christians listen to more than they ever read their Bible (much less discuss serious public policy), have much more influence on the moral and political decision making of conservative Christians than a grasp of the clear moral and social issues that will shape our culture. Come to think of it — why are issues like immigration reform, two highly questionable wars, real education reform, prison reform, the death penalty and mental illness never on these lists? Like more liberal Christians, these conservatives seem to pick and choose what they think is important and the reasons generally have little or nothing to do with thoughtful public policy or morally informed decision making. This is why I find myself with no political party and a set of concerns that inform my life and help me make choices that I know are imperfect and always will be. This I know – politics and political leaders cannot save us!

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Comments

  1. Ross June 11, 2011 at 11:10 am

    John, I think you hit the nail on the head in regard to why this is such a hot issue with the Christian Right. We have chosen to allow the media to inform our thinking more than scripture. I’m as guilty as the next guy of being sucked in by the arguments; the idea that Obamacare is just one step closer to Socialism in this country. We’ve been so conditioned to equate Christianity with Democracy & Capitalism that any political issue which runs contrary to either of those ideologies is seen as an attack on our faith. But Christianity has survived (and thrived) under every political system man has devised.
    I think we would do well to stop worrying so much about about what “they” might do to this country, (& don’t get me wrong, I love America & the freedoms afforded to us by our democratic system) and focus more on how we, as the Church, can carry out Christ’s mission in whatever system of government we find ourselves. How do we love the lost more effectively for Jesus? How do we train up disciples to carry out that task? How do we serve one another in love? How do we love our enemies? Without ignoring our responsibilities as voters in a democracy, these should be the things that we put our energies into and trust God with the outcome.
    In the big picture, so what if there were socialized medicine, gay-marriage, handgun restrictions, etc.? I’m not saying that we don’t vote our conscience in these areas and seek to be a part of the political process, but the outcomes of these decisions are truly in the hand of the Lord and so whatever the circumstances, we should confidently strive after the task to which He has called us: making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded, because surely He is with us always, to the very end of the age.

  2. John W Brandkamp June 11, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Amen. I can’t really expand on what you’ve already said John. Spot on.

  3. Garry Trammell June 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    “I am inclined to think that Fox News, and a host of talk shows that some Christians listen to more than they ever read their Bible (much less discuss serious public policy), have much more influence on the moral and political decision making of conservative Christians than a grasp of the clear moral and social issues that will shape our culture.”
    Absolutely nailed it John. God have mercy on us…

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