10/23/2008

Reasons Why Evangelicals SHOULD Vote for McCain

Evangelicals and the Election, Part 1 of 3

Today, I will list the legitimate and illegitimate reasons why Evangelical Christians can vote for John McCain. Next, I’ll list the same for Barack Obama. With the third post, I will make the case that, no matter who is voted into office on November 4, Christians must unite behind our new president and prayerfully move forward as we deal with the major issues and crises that currently face our nation.

In spite of what many Bible-believing Christians think (see James Dobson a year ago when he said, “I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances” and the rhetoric of many “progressives” in the evangelical camp), the election of John McCain will not be the worst possible result of this election. There are several legitimate reasons why evangelicals could or even should vote for John McCain:

1. Consistently Pro-Life.
In the 2000 campaign, I stopped supporting National Right to Life because they were sending me information saying that the only pro-life candidate to vote for was George Bush. The truth was that they were not supporting McCain because of his campaign finance reform agenda that would have put them out of business. McCain has consistently voted as a senator for pro-life bills.

2. Supreme Court.
The next president will most likely appoint one, and perhaps even two, justices to the Supreme Court. Even though McCain says that he will not have a litmus test for justices, everyone believes that his appointments would be pro-life, and that this would mean that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.

3. Limited Government.
A Christian concept of government states that it must be limited. McCain is correct that government is not supposed to be the central aspect of public life. There are other authorities, such as churches, parents, associations, businesses, organizations, and individuals, that have an authority that is not derived from government, and therefore cannot be replaced by governmental fiat. As Paul Marshall writes, "The authority of the government ends where the authorities of others begin…We can say that the governing authority is justly to interrelate the authorities—the areas of responsibility—of others. It is not to supplant other authorities in their roles." In society, there are diverse offices with diverse responsibilities that possess their own authority. And government must not encroach upon those areas of responsibility.

4. McCain has opposed Bush on several issues.
While McCain is aligned with Bush on two key issues in this election (taxes and the war in Iraq), he has taken stands contrary to the Bush administration. He has been a vocal critic of how Bush has actually conducted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very importantly, McCain has been a major critic of the Bush administration’s use of torture. Also, McCain differs with Bush about climate change, saying “We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great.”

If you are going to cast your vote for McCain based on some of these reasons, then I think that it is a legitimately thoughtful Christian vote. However, there are a number of illegitimate reasons I’ve heard evangelicals use for why we should vote for McCain. Here are reasons that SHOULD NOT be used to vote for McCain:

1. Obama is a secret Muslim.
Our church just had Missions week, with missionaries sharing their stories in adult Sunday classes. In our class, we had four missionaries that specialized in reaching Muslims. In the midst of a good question and answer session, one guy asked a question that made me fume. “In your opinion, is Barack Obama a Christian or a Muslim?” My wife grabbed my hand and said, “Robert… Settle down.” I later raised my hand and asked, “In your opinion, is John McCain a Christian or an adulterer who divorced his wife for a wealthy beer distributor?” It was a joke. And yes, people laughed (while some looked at me strangely). It is strange that McCain’s credentials as a believer are never questioned even though he does not make his faith a major part of his identity, while Obama’s Christian faith is held in great incredulity because he is a democrat. I find it remarkable that in spite of Obama’s eloquent statements of his faith at a ground-breaking speech in 2006 and in his answers to Rick Warren at the Saddleback Forum (where he said, “Jesus Christ died for my sins...I am redeemed through Him”), evangelicals simply will not accept him as a true believer.

2. Obama pals around with terrorists.
He does not. He has not. Citing a New York Times article on Bill Ayers and his acquaintance with Barack Obama, Sarah Palin said, “Our opponents see America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who would bomb their own country.” In fact, the very newspaper article that Palin cited made it clear that Sen. Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less “pals.” The Times article says, “The two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.’” The intention of this campaign tactic is the paint Obama as a covert radical. Notice that Palin said "terroristS" (plural), and that the campaign has been asking, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” Christians must not be snookered by emails they receive claiming that Obama is some detestable threat to the country. He is not. McCain himself has recently refuted those at his rallies that are “scared” of Obama.

3. McCain picked a Christian as his running mate.
The fact that Palin has confessed faith in Jesus Christ does not mean that she would be a good Vice President or President. George Bush was very vocal about his Christian faith, and his presidency was a disaster in many ways, including misleading the American public by manipulating the intelligence to drum up support for the war in Iraq and then, astonishingly, the most despicable and immoral of things – endorsing the use of torture. Just because a person says he or she is a Christian does not necessarily mean that he or she will be a good leader. I’ve even known pastors that have been bad leaders, and even scoundrels (and so have you).

Yes, there are good reasons to vote for John McCain. If you are in the McCain camp, good. However, know that there are also good reasons to vote for Barack Obama. That is next.

Read all three part of this series:
Part 1: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for MCCAIN
Part 2: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for OBAMA
Part 3: McCain or Obama ? - A Plea for Unity

14 comments:

Michael said...

Thank you for the thoughtful post. I think it is clear and provides some very helpful information and perspective.

The main point that I get stuck on is #3: Limited Government. You state that, " A Christian concept of government states that it must be limited. McCain is correct that government is not supposed to be the central aspect of public life." You finish with, "And government must not encroach upon those areas of responsibility."

This perspective seems to assume that Sen. Obama 1) believes that government should be the central aspect to life and 2) desires for government to encroach on areas that are not their responsibility. Not only is this perspective highly subjective, I don't think it is substantiated.

Yes, Sen. McCain is for smaller government. But, who is to say that more involvement by government is a bad or "non-christian" thing? Neither party is suggesting that government take the place of organizations like churches in our society. But their are areas in our society that need to be managed better and invested in by government, like education.

The Republican efforts to "limit" government have somehow grown into unleashing and deregulating big businesses, in-turn making the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is feeding an unhealthy capitalistic society. Our government was created to help bring equality for all, and must work hard to return to that ethic.

Bob Robinson said...

Michael,
I did not say anything about Barack Obama's view of government in point #3. I was just stating John McCain's viewpoint. So, if you read any assumptions about Obama in those words, they were not intended.

It is my understanding that government is indeed a good thing - something that is given by God not only to restrain and punish evil but to promote the common good (Rom 13:4).

However, I find that in election years we forget that government is not supposed to be the central aspect of our lives. It has only a limited function, which McCain does well to remind us of.

I agree with you that "our government was created to help bring equality for all, and must work hard to return to that ethic." Well said!

Great Googly Moogly! said...

I agree with Michael that this was a thoughtful post. I look forward to reading the next one on Obama.

Obviously you hadn't intended to list all the "legitimate" and "illegitimate" reasons to vote for McCain, but I think experience would be a "legitimate" reason to vote for one candidate over another.

If I laid out all the pros and cons of each candidate and the balance is fairly even, then the experience factor, in my mind, is a definite factor in my choice. And by "experience" I'm not limiting it to government experience (though that would be high on the list); but "life" experience is important to me as well.

Naturally McCain, being as old as he is, will have much more "life" experience than Obama, but I'm referring to life qualitatively rather than quantitatively. What has the person done in his/her life? What kind of situations has he/she been in and how did he/she handle them? Questions like these help me feel confident as to whether or not the person has "experience" in life (and government) to deal with leading an entire country.

Again, for me experience could very well be THE deciding factor...all things considered.

Thanks, Bob.

Brent Hallsten said...

I thank you for the post. I agree with the previous commment concerning the importance of experience, not necessarily measured in years but in accomplishments in relation to the years. Palin shines in that light.

I would take exception to the Ayers comment. I believe we now know he was much closer to Ayers than he has said, and Ayers is only 1 in a line of people who are problematic at least.
I would have trouble with a christian who went to a white racist church, and I have trouble with Rev Wright because he seems to promote racism and the gospel is masked at least in a swamp of social muck. (consistent with Liberation Theology)
The list of issues and aquaintences Sen Obama has changed stances on in the last year is enough to make your head spin.
It may be politically incorrect in this church climate to say it, but I think he is the consumate politician, he will say what he needs to in order to get elected. He will throw overboard whoever he needs to in order to get elected. Thus I think he is slick and a liar. I differ with Hillary on many issues, but with her you know what you got. There are soul issues she is up front about and those won't change like it or not. He is slippery.
I disagree with McCain on several issues, but I think he is a man of integrity.
McCain says he is a federalist and as such would turn back Roe, then leaving it up to the states. That is better than Sen Obama, but not a solid pro-life stance in my understanding. (you are right he has a good voting record on this issue) The child does not care whether they are torn apart by federal mandate or state, murder is murder regardless of wheter it is decided at the state or national level.
Anyway, I did appreciate your post, I will look at the Obama one next. :-)
Promise to keep my comments shorter there.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree on numbers 1 and 3 in your list of why NOT to vote for McCain, but I must admit that I have true concerns on Obama's possible connections to Bill Ayers and his wife, to Raila Odinga (and yes, I know that there was an untrue email about that going around but I did see video of the two of them together from my own research on the net) , and even to ACORN. I don't know that he would pass a screening for an FBI or CIA position with those questionable acquaintances/"pals" (altho' I know pals may be stretching it a little). As an aside there is also the 'connections' to Pastor Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezco and Franklin Raines -- different concerns here, but still says something about Obama.

What do you know about these connections? and do you not have concern?

My additional concerns with Obama would be the abortion/ parental consent stance (Freedom of CHoice Act and his earlier voting record on abortion), the comment he made of 'spreading the wealth' , national security issues/foreign policy, traditional defintion of marriage (DOMA), ...

I would be interested in your comments and will read your next email about "good reasons to vote for Obama".

Bob Robinson said...

Anonymous,

You have some good concerns about this election!

1. The Bill Ayers issue, I think, is settled. It is blown way out of proportion by the right-wing pundits. Sean Hannity has been seeking to make this an issue, but it simply has been proven not to be. Please read the New York Times article cited in my post.

2. Raila Odinga is the Prime Minister of Kenya with president Mwai Kibaki in a coalition government. He has told the BBC that he is a distant cousin of Barack Obama’s. Obama’s Kenyan father and American mother separated when he was two and later divorced. His mother subsequently married an Indonesian. For the life of me, I don’t see why this is relevant, except that it may show that Obama’s background helps him to think less jingoistically in his foreign relations. It should be noted that Obama is also a distant cousin of Dick Cheney, does that make him a closet Republican?

3. Contrary to the right-wing pundits, ACORN is not an evil organization. The Houston Chronicle had a very helpful investigative article, in which they said that ACORN's causes include such things as voter registration drives for low-income groups, initiatives to increase the minimum wage and programs offering help to victims of predatory lending. There is no doubt that the Right does not like ACORN, since it is clearly a Left-leaning organization, but that is no reason to demonize it. ACORN indeed has had major problems with its campaign to register voters. The Chronicle writes, “It's unknown what the results of the ongoing investigations will be, but past investigations might give us some indication. In 2007 in King County, Wash., prosecutors filed charges against seven ACORN workers and reached a civil agreement with ACORN that the organization would monitor its workers more carefully. ‘A joint federal and state investigation has determined that this scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting,’ said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg at the time. ‘Instead, the defendants cheated their employer, ACORN, to get paid for work they did not actually perform. ACORN's lax oversight of their own voter registration drive permitted this to happen.’” As for Obama’s connection to ACORN, read the article, and you’ll find that the McCain campaign’s claims about Obama are either “FALSE” or are “HALF TRUE.”

4. The FBI/CIA smear against Obama is simply one of those email internet things to create doubt about the candidate. There has been not one legitimate news source that has brought this up. Not one. I doubt that Obama having sat on a board or worked on the same educational causes would deny him clearance.

5. To judge a person by his or her associations can only take us so far in understanding them. McCain has worked closely with Edward Kennedy, so does that make him a closet liberal? Or, McCain’s best friend at one time was Charles Keating. In fact McCain was the only one of the “Keating Five” with close social and personal ties to Keating. According to Wikipedia, “McCain had received $112,000 in political contributions from Keating and his associates. McCain's wife Cindy McCain and her father had invested $359,100 in a Keating shopping center. McCain, his family, and their baby-sitter had made nine trips at Keating's expense, sometimes aboard Keating's jet.” Even though McCain was not reprimanded like Alan Cranston in the scandal, he “was criticized by the Committee for exercising ‘poor judgment’ when he met with the federal regulators on Keating's behalf.” What I’m saying is this: If we are going to say that who you’ve associated with gives us an indication of who you are (and it sometimes does), then it would be fair to say that since McCain’s friend Keating was “indicted by the on 42 counts related to having duped Lincoln Savings and Loan customers into buying worthless junk bonds and went to jail and convicted on 17 counts of fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy,” we must wonder about McCain’s associations as well. Do you think this would be fair? If not, then why is it fair for Obama?

6. You have legitimate concerns about Obama’s stand on abortion. He is seeking to lower the cases of abortion while at the same time not overturning Roe v. Wade. This is a precarious stand to have. But the Republicans, in my view, have not done a whole lot to stop the reasons why women choose to have abortions and instead focus narrowly on Roe. There is a website that states some of the things that Obama is seeking to do for Life issues (admittedly short of overturning Roe v. Wade): prolifeproobama.com. It is interesting that this is the first time in the history of the Democratic Party that the wording on this issue has changed for the better. The new Party platform addresses issues of poverty, support for families, adoption and availability of health care, all described as factors related to abortion. The Democrats want to promote access to family planning and age-appropriate sex education, saying that “such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.” The platform says the party “strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre-and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.” These are important compromises from the Democrats that should be applauded.

7. I personally have no problem with the notion of “spreading the wealth.” For far too long, the Republicans have been spreading the wealth – to their constituents in the upper class through tax breaks and loopholes in the tax code. It is time to give the middle and lower classes some of those breaks.

8. If you feel we need a law that defines a traditional marriage as between a man and a woman, then you should know that when Rick Warren asked Obama to define marriage, he said, “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Now, for me as a Christian ... it’s also a sacred union.” When asked whether or not he’d support a constitutional amendment, he answered that he wouldn’t. “Because historically we have not defined marriage in our Constitution. It’s been a matter of state law that has been our tradition. Now, I mean, let’s break it down. The reason that people think there needs to be a Constitutional amendment — some people believe — is because of the concern ... about same-sex marriage. I am not somebody who promotes same-sex marriage, but I do believe in civil unions. I do believe that we should not — that for gay partners to want to visit each other in a hospital, for the state to say, you know what, that’s all right — I don’t think in any way inhibits my core beliefs about what marriage are. I think my faith is strong enough and my marriage is strong enough that I can afford those civil rights to others, even if I have a different perspective or a different view.” I think that is a very good answer. Should I, as a Christian, want to deny civil rights to people because I think they are living in sin? Is that really the Christian way? Where should this line be drawn? Should we deny housing to people who are living together? Should we deny medical assistance to those who are sick because of their sinful actions? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that our faith should proclaim loud and clear that marriage is only between and man and a woman.

Byron Harvey said...

A few thoughts, Bob--and I eagerly await your reasons to vote for Obama, because with a week to go, I can't think of even ONE...

1. Your Supreme Court comments re McCain are correct as far as they go, but they don't go nearly far enough. The overturning of Roe is one of the likely outcomes (nearly reason enough in its own right to vote McCain), but the placement of constructionists on the Court goes far beyond this, affecting the fundamental ways we view and use the Constitution in this country. It's about law on every level, and about the appropriate balance of powers. "Gay marriage" exists now in three states for one reason only: judicial abuse of power. Period. And from "eminent domain" abuse on down the line, we see the erosion of freedom when we see courts legislating from the bench. Yes, some of our most egregious justices were nominated by Republicans (Stevens, Souter), but none of our justices that actually believe in the Constitution were nominated by Democrats.

2. I don't think that the mere fact that McCain has "opposed Bush" is particularly a reason to vote for or against him; it depends on what the issues are. On torture, I concur with you; on global warming, I don't.

3. For reasons I've detailed in some length on previous posts, I don't find it "remarkable" in the least that evangelicals question his faith commitment (though the Muslim canard is silly, I agree). I find it remarkable that some evangelicals look at his flimsy faith credentials and accept his claims. Read chapter 3 of "The Faith of Barack Obama" and then proclaim confidence that what he means when he says "Christian" is what evangelicals mean. Dare ya.

4. You cite the New York Times to dismiss the Ayers ties? Sheesh, Bob, why don't you call up Keith Olbermann and get him to corroborate, and then see what Carville says for good measure! If there's one thing we've learned from this election, it's that the mainstream media is a joke in this country, hopelessly in the tank for Obama. And no, that's not to defend everything that Fox News says/does, either, but the Ayers link is pretty compelling. That does not mean that Obama is in favor of terrorism (silly), but the many ties between the two men--and there are many--calls into serious question his judgment.

Again, I await eagerly hearing even one decent reason for an evangelical to vote for Barack Obama, because I've honestly tried to do that, and come up empty. Hopefully, you'll do better than the hopelessly naive Donald Miller and Tony Jones...

Byron Harvey said...

McCain has repudiated and apologized for his connections with Charles Keating, in my understanding. If Obama would do the same with these other guys, it would make at least some difference, but he has weaseled around. There's a massive difference. Plus, despite my personal misgivings about Teddy Kennedy, to draw an analogy between associating with him, and associating with Ayers/Wright types, is really a poor analogy, Bob.

Further, on a point Michael made earlier, the idea that the government was created to bring equality to all is either a concept with which I totally agree, or one which should be fought hard. Equality of opportunity? Beyond any doubt whatever; every person ought to have as equal an opportunity before the law as possible. Equality of outcome? That is a decidedly humanistic (read "anti-Christian") way of thinking. To the degree that any party's policies retard equality of opportunity, I am with you in criticizing them. To the degree that we socialistically want to "spread the wealth around", attempting to achieve equality of outcome, I'll oppose that with everything I've got, because it is not a Christian concept.

Bob Robinson said...

Byron,
One of the things that we all have to agree on is this:
Christians who read their Bibles and are legitimately seeking to follow Christ and led by the Spirit will have differing policy positions. This does not make them any more or less Christian, it shows that we all see through the glass darkly.

For instance, you have a different stand on climate change than I do. I contend that this in okay - I've been convinced that it is indeed a major problem of man-made cause; you have not been convinced that it is man-made, but just a cyclical occurrence. We cannot look up chapter and verse to prove which is right; we can continue to debate based on inferences from Scripture (my side: "Creation Care;" your side: "Proper allocation of limited resources.") This is a good thing to debate... without dubbing the other as less than biblical, less than Christian, and thus demonizing them.

Same can be said about people's view of the Constitution. I don't see why we must have a strict constructionist view; you see this as essential. We cannot look up chapter and verse to determine if we should treat the United States Constitution as an inerrant document that does not need to be interpreted differently in different times. Those Christians that feel that the Constitution must not be read in this way are no less Christians than those who have a different view.
We can have a debate about this, but when it comes down to it, we can disagree on this without demonizing our fellow Christian about it.
Agree?

Bob Robinson said...

Byron,
The reason I brought up the New York Times article was that this was the VERY ARTICLE that Sarah Palin cited to prove that Obama "pals around with terrorists. She invited us to read it, and it said the exact opposite of what she claimed it said!

More news resources that says the connection between Obama and Ayers is tenuous at best:

Fact Checker from The Washington Post

FactCheck.org

Byron Harvey said...

Bob,

Agree on the first point (climate change), completely. By the way, as you say, I agree that some climate change is taking place, although even there, the evidence seems to be somewhat mixed, but I really seriously doubt that there's much we've done to cause it, nor is there much we can do to fix it. That's a different question from general questions of pollution, by the way; when it comes to those, I do believe that we ought to be extremely responsible. But enough of that...

On the other, I do not agree. Here's why: while two constructionists might have different intepretations of what the original intent of the law in question might entail (this would be a VALID disagreement), the issue at hand is not that at all. Rather, the issue is one of simple honesty, and the logical parallels between our belief in inerrancy, and a constructionist (or originalist; there's a shade of difference between the two, by the way) viewpoint toward the Constitution are striking. Two inerrantists might disagree over a particular meaning/interpretation, but would do some with a shared commitment that "this is God's Word, and it is authoritative, being without error." Now, the Constitution isn't "inerrant" in that sense, of course, but the problem is that those who take a viewpoint of the Constitution other than constructionism or originalism end up denying that the Constitution, AS IT STANDS WRITTEN, is the law of the land. The goal of the judge MUST be to interpret the intent of the crafters of the law, and apply that intent to the case at hand.

The problem is that this is not what judicial activists do: they dishonestly cross over the Constitutionally-prescribed borders of their authority and seize legislative prerogative. That goes against the very law, the very Constitution, that they swear to uphold, and it has the effect of dismantling representative democracy. Activist judges and courts determine to remake society, disregarding laws and referenda as they see fit, in the name of remaking society according to their "enlightened" viewpoints. This is patently dishonest, sub-Christian, and cannot be supported by any person, Christian or otherwise, who understands the issues involved and hopes to maintain integrity.

Bob Robinson said...

Byron,
Again I must state that Strict Constructionism or Originalism are simply the way that libertarians (and/or followers of Robert Bork) want to interpret the Constitution. It is not THE Christian way to do so. The Constitution itself is silent on the how it is to be interpreted. And, the Constitution is not holy Scripture.
The same dishonest charge can be blasted at Strict Constuctionists who have used this as the basis for discriminatory laws (see Plessy v. Ferguson).

Byron Harvey said...

Can't agree with you, Bob, not at all, because the difference, whether you want to call it "Christian" or not (I did not), is the difference between honesty (which IS Christian) and dishonesty. A legislature votes to enact a particular law to address a particular situation. The role of the judge is to determine whether or not that particular law accords with the Constitution of the United States, which is the bedrock rule by which we are ostensibly to be governed. To bring in anything else into the judge's ruling, other than the interpretation of the Constitution, is fundamentally dishonest, and a dereliction of duty. Sure, there have been wrong decisions rendered by courts through the years, but if a decision is rendered in keeping with the Constitution, then it is a right decision. Now, if that correct decision turns out not to be a moral one, then we need to go back and amend the Constitution--and there are means to do just that. But to do anything besides sticking to the Constitution as written serves to destroy both the rule of law and the foundations of our republic. The role of a judge is to interpret law, not to legislate, and any approach other than constructionism or originalism crosses that line, and that's dishonest, whether you're libertarian, Democrat, Republican, or what-have-you.

Shane said...

Hi Bob,

We've met once briefly through a common friend, Matt R. He just sent me the link to your blog. I can see you're reasonable, fair, and aspire to have a good heart.

First I'll admit I'm an Obama supporter and have been following him since he voted 'no' on Iraq. The one thing I think missing from your pieces is the over arching thought processes of both men. McCain ideas are tried and true to what has transpired for most of the Republican era. Whereas, at least in my eyes, Obama is offering some creative and compromising ideas that are more forward thinking. You've written extensively on the standard topics, but there's more. We need to reform educational and environmental policies. As it stands, it can still be argued that the war in Iraq is being waged for oil or oil revenues.

To comment on you McCain post I think that the majority of your piece on voting for McCain is standard Christian-Abortion rhetoric. I'm in the extreme minority that stands as a pro-choice Christian and the reason why is that the Government should not stand between a doctor and patient with regards to procedures. I want to see this procedure used as little as possible, but it should not be outlawed. As with abortion I feel the same with euthanasia. Since we can not draft a law stating all the possible scenarios for a person to choose an abortion the law should stand as is. Finally, on that same topic I am very sceptical that a McCain administration would attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade since this has been there bread and butter issue for so many years. Reports consistently demonstrate that one-third of voters will choose a candidate on this issue alone, even if the other candidate is in the better interest of the voter. Thanks again for taking the time to do this and I hope, as you do, that whoever wins will unit the country more than the current president has done.