On Faith and Politics

Earlier this week, I wrote about a former senator who spoke out against the "danger" of Christian influence on the Republican Party. In that post, I made the argument that faith-in-action is exactly what both parties need.

Today, I want to take a different approach today. Let's take an honest look at what Christians and religious people do that IS a problem.

One of my favorite authors, Elisabeth Elliott, wrote: "The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of a Christian. But, the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of a woman." This is a profound statement that, I believe, can be applied in many areas if we substitute for the word "woman."

How about this: the fact that I am a liberal/conservative does not make me a different kind of a Christian. But, the fact that I am a Christian does make me a different kind of a liberal/conservative. (For you who may not be Christian, please forgive me as I pick on--oh, I mean, talk to--my fellow Christians.)

1. Christianese. Every subculture has its unique language and ways. This is a term used for the language and "buzz words" used in Christian circles. The problem is attempting to use that language when you walk out of the church building. Talking to classmates, neighbors or co-workers in that foreign language can affect communication. However, when it's used in a nationally televised interview, a press conference or a debate, it's simply an example of Christians identifying themselves as irrelevant and out-of-touch.

2. Single-Issue Voters. I have to start this point by saying that I believe that abortion is our modern-day holocaust. I believe that the blood of the 40 + million babies is on our hands as a nation and that we must take every legal and moral action possible to bring transformation in the heart and mind, and in the law to allow for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our land.

Having said that, before I decide on a candidate, I look at everything that candidate brings to the table (not just their stance on abortion). Too many people look only at one issue, namely abortion, and are discounted as closed-minded and even ignorant.

3. Apathy. This is just as important as the issues listed above. The same problem the rest of the nation faces. Some polls show that anywhere from 60% to 70% of evangelical Christians do not vote. I'm not sure how that compares to the rest of the nation and I don't care. The fact that I am an American does not make me a different kind of a Christian. But, the fact that I am a Christian better make me a different kind of American.

4. Voting by faith. This was one of the issues that bothered me a bit about the Harriet Miers nomination. I love it when a well-qualified candidate who has the goods and who is a person of character and integrity is also a person of faith. However, faith alone is NOT enough.

When we in California had our Governor's Election, the debate among Christians and conservatives was heated. I cannot tell you the number of intense discussions I participated in and condescending emails I received regarding "voting my conscience." It was code for "don't vote for Arnold."

I had to look at the whole candidate and the problems before our state. And, yes, I voted for Arnold. Does he believe as I do about abortion? NO. Is he a Christian? I don't think so. Did I think that we had a chance to move the ball down the field with a strong, winnable candidate who had the goods to take care of the emergency at hand? YES!

In reality, when I consider the issues that plague Christians, they resemble ones that have the potential to plague any group of people. They are human problems, regardless of the subculture. They are problems of exclusivity, irrelevance, ignorance and apathy.

The question remains, my fellow Christian, does the fact that you are a ______(fill in the blank) make you a different kind of a Christian? Or, does the fact that you're a Christian make you a different kind of everything else? It should.


At 10/30/2005 07:58:00 AM, Anonymous aj4runner said...

Lores: this is nationally syndicated column quality and quantity. Well done!

At 10/30/2005 09:02:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

aj: wow, thank you!

At 10/30/2005 09:06:00 AM, Anonymous aj4runner said...

"Party Trumps Person": an excellent 'Election 101' lesson

With local and state elections occurring all across the country very soon I thought it will be a good idea for a 'Election 101' lesson that is outstanding.

Our local talk show host here on 850am KOA here in Denver, Mike Rosen, believes in the philosophy, "Party Trumps Person", as I do.

Now keep in mind that Mike is specifically referring to the general election, NOT primaries in this piece. "Party Trumps Person" does not apply in primaries.

The primary is where you volunteer and work for the candidate based on their beliefs as they relate most closely to your own. Once the general election comes around and you are a conservative you better be voting (R) in for example a Senate race... otherwise, like us idiots here in Colorado, you will end up sending a (D) Senator to Washington who will be voting with the far left most of the time... see Pete Coors vs. Ken Salazar in the 2004 Senate election here in Colorado last year. Anyway Mike Rosen says it best! -

Here's the link to "Party Trumps Person" followed by the text of the column:


With just 80 days to go before the election, it's time for my quadrennial column on party vs. person. I've been offering and updating this polemic for more than 20 years. For veteran voters, this may be review; for rookies, perhaps, a new concept.

A time-honored cliche heard every election year goes something like this: "I'm an independent thinker; I vote the person, not the party." This pronouncement is supposed to demonstrate open-mindedness and political sophistication on the part of the pronouncer. It's your vote, cast it any way you like - or not at all. But idealism and naivete about the way our electoral process and system of government works shouldn't be mistaken for wisdom or savvy.

For better or worse, we have a two-party system. And party trumps person. Either a Republican, George W. Bush, or a Democrat, John Kerry, is going to be elected president in November. No one else has a chance.

Not Ralph Nader, not the Libertarian candidate, nor the Communist, nor the Green. Minor party candidates are sometimes spoilers - like Nader costing Gore the presidency in 2000 - but they don't win presidential elections. Ross Perot got 20 million popular votes in 1992, and exactly zero Electoral College votes.

In Europe's multiparty, parliamentary democracies, governing coalitions are
formed after an election. In our constitutional republic, the coalitions are formed first.

The Republican coalition includes, for the most part, middle- and upper-income taxpayers (but not leftist Hollywood millionaires and George Soros), individualists who prefer limited government, pro-market and pro-business forces, believers in American exceptionalism and a strong national defense, social-issues conservatives and supporters of traditional American values.

The Democratic coalition is an alliance of collectivists, labor unions (especially the teachers' unions), government workers, academics, plaintiffs-lawyers, lower- and middle-income net tax-receivers, most minorities, feminists, gays, enviros, and activists for various anti-capitalist, anti-business, anti-military, anti-gun, one-world causes.

I say party trumps person because regardless of the individual occupying the White House, the coalition will be served.

A Democratic president, whether a liberal or a moderate (conservative Democrats, if any still exist, can't survive the nominating process), can operate only within the political boundaries of his party and its coalition. The party that wins the presidency gets to staff all the discretionary positions in the executive and judicial branches of government. Members of its coalition are awarded vital policy-making government jobs, judgeships, ambassadorships and appointments to boards and commissions, as well as a host of plum jobs handed out to thosewho have political IOUs to cash in.

A vote for Bush is a vote for the Republican agenda and conservative players in key posts. A vote for Kerry is a vote for the influence of the National Education Association, the National Organization for Women, the American Civil Liberties Union and the likes of Al Sharpton and Michael Moore.

The legislative branch is no different. After the individual members of a new
Congress have been seated, a figurative nose count is taken and the party with the most noses wins. That victory carries with it control of all committee and subcommittee chairmanships, the locus of legislative power.

Now, let's say you're a registered Republican voter who clearly prefers the Republican philosophy of governance. And you're a good-natured, well-intentioned person who happens to like an individual Democrat, a Senate candidate, who's somewhat conservative. You decide to cross party lines and vote for him.

As it turns out, he wins, beating a Republican and giving the Democrats a one-vote majority, 51-49, in the U.S. Senate.

Congratulations! You just got Ted Kennedy, Patrick Leahy, Dianne Feinstein and Hillary Clinton as key committee chairs, and a guarantee that your Republican legislative agenda will be stymied.

That's the way the process works. Does this mean that in a two-party system like ours it comes down to choosing between the lesser of two evils? You bet it does. That's not to say that either party is really "evil," that's just an expression.

If we had 280 million custom-tailored minor parties, everyone could find his
perfect match.

But that's not practical.

You can be a purist and cast your vote symbolically with a boutique party, or be a player and settle for the least imperfect of the Republican or Democrat alternatives.

Your vote, your choice.

At 10/30/2005 09:13:00 AM, Anonymous aj4runner said...

I, for example, am not a social conservative first. My number one issues are freedom & liberty, lower taxes, property rights and gun ownership (I do not and have never owned a gun and can't imagine ever doing so), etc.... but do you know what??? I enthusiastically align myself with social conservatives and evangelical Christians because they vote my way on the issues most important to me (and I do believe in and support almost all of their issues as well including pro-life except in the cases of rape, incest or the life of the mother). And not only are they dedicated to going to the polls, they will show up in droves like last fall when we as a coalition elected our outstanding commander-in-chief, President Bush. I know of one church in Florida where all 1200+ members went to the polls early to vote for our President.

At 10/30/2005 11:38:00 PM, Blogger Mark said...

Lores, You only have to read my blog to know that my Christian faith shapes my ideology.

Good post.

At 10/31/2005 02:32:00 AM, Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Lores, thank you for thinking, and for sharing your thoughts.

My faith shapes my approach to politics and has me voting a certain way. The same general faith sends others to vote the other way. I no more understand how someone can follow Jesus and vote for Repubs than conservatives can understand how I can follow Jesus and vote for Dems.

I don't doubt or condemn those others' faith -- just their politics. Why is that my faith is so often dounted, as well as my politics condemned, by those on the right?

And I agree with aj4runner 101 percent. Vote party -- because while there are exceptions, the parties shape office holders once they get in office. So, hold your nose and party on.


At 10/31/2005 04:15:00 AM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

aj: good post. thanks for the reminder.

ER: i never appreciate a questioning of a person's faith because of the way they vote. i think there are a few things that the Bible is black and white about. Then, there's all the grey where we need to simply apply biblical principles and examples.

i believe that if we take our faith seriously, we should be able to have legitimate, healthy discussion about the issues from a Christian Democratic perspective and a Christian Republican one.

At 10/31/2005 04:54:00 AM, Blogger Goat said...

Lorez all I can say is well said and this Goat is grateful for your barnyard sense. It seems the moral core of america is making itself heard thanks to individuals like yourself. Keep it up we need it!

At 10/31/2005 08:28:00 AM, Blogger Mary said...

Great post, Lores.

As you point out, Christianity, or any religious beliefs for that matter, is not something that the faithful compartmentalize.

For me, being a Christian shapes how I approach everything in my life.

At 10/31/2005 06:11:00 PM, Blogger SoGal said...

Lores, great job at pointing out the reality of how Christians need to take more thought to politics and their involvement, or lack thereof, in it.

I thought I'd add another thing that Christians tend to do in politics, which goes along with the fact that many Christians don't get out and vote.

Despite the fact that they had an equal opportunity to voice their opinion at the polls, many of them choose to only voice their opinion after the fact, when their opinion cannot be heard, and can easily be seen as complaining. How can they think they have a right to complain if they didn't take their "God-given" opportunity to help prevent what they complain about.

At 10/31/2005 08:27:00 PM, Blogger fetzer said...

Lores, You are one well spoken woman. I love how your mind works and I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on these important issues.

At 10/31/2005 10:59:00 PM, Blogger Lores Rizkalla said...

thank you, fetzer. i so appreciate that!


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