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.
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!