Tuesday, October 23, 2007

GOP Hopefuls Try to Win Over Religious Right

Several of the GOP contenders addressed the Values Voters Summit in D.C. this past Saturday, hoping to win over a large and powerful voting block. Former N.Y. major Rudy Guiliani, a professed Catholic, had the biggest liability as an avowed abortion rights supporter. Mit Romney is conservative and prolife, but his liability for Evangelicals is his Mormon faith. Mike Huckabee, a former Baptist preacher and Arkansas governor seemed to muster the greatest positive reaction, as he repeatedly appealed to the crowd with biblical images and passages and a passionate support of conservative values. John McCain, who has conflicted with the right over immigration among other issues, tried to tout his honesty and consistent pro-life voting record.

Still, unlike previous elections, the Religious Right has yet to galvanize around a single candidate, and there are rumors of support for a Third Party candidate, if one should arise. Yet, despite the liberal tendencies of the U.S. and Democratic control of both houses, people of faith remain a viable voting force, and of great interest to conservative Christian voters.

As a Lutheran I shy away from promoting individual candidate or parties. More so, as a pastor, I often remain mute on this area during election time, respecting the rights of my people to make informed choices according to conscience. Still, my role as citizen permits me to participate in the process and use my vote as a means to influencing the direction of my government. I am, if you could guess, socially conservative as well as theologically conservative. I believe strongly in the rights of the unborn (as does the LCMS and the Roman Catholic Church, to name a few denominations with views on this), and believe that Roe vs. Wade was and remains a great tragedy.

I believe that God ordained government as an instrument of his will (Romans 13), and that our support of it is consistent with our faith. Government, however, is not the same as the Church, and we must understand that it is not a "sanctified institution," bearing still the marks of a fallen world, and prone to good as well as evil.

As a citizen I therefore believe that we participate and vote as people of faith, and it is consistent with that faith to do so with the standards God has set forth in his Word as our guide. Should one support a candidate that also supports these biblical values? Of course. Still, could a president who was not a Christian also be a good leader? That depends. I certainly would prefer an honest unbeliever to a deceptive or incompetent believer. Luther recognized that the ruler leads by God's gift of reason, and not strictly according to the Bible. This is the Kingdom of the Left, and its purpose, as Paul informs us, is to protect the nation and enforce the laws that provide for a stable and safe land. If a candidate is supportive therefore of the rights of all life (including the unborn), and prepared to efficiently and effectively use the resources we have for the defense of the nation, they should be given a fair consideration. If that person is a Christian, great. But even godless Caesar was recognized by Paul as a legitimate ruler for whom we should pray, and who had within his power to provide a place where the Church would exist in peace.

Well, enough said. Do I know who I am going to vote for yet? No. I'm still listening.....

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