Reasons Why Evangelicals SHOULD Vote for Obama

Evangelicals and the Election, Part 2 of 3

We have listed the reasons why I think that Christians should vote for John McCain. Now, it’s time to list the same for Barack Obama.

1. The War in Iraq.
Simply stated, the United States should have never gone to war with Iraq. Even under the most liberal interpretation of Christian Just War Theory, it did not meet the standards. For the first time in history, a country conducted a “preemptive war” and had the gall to call it “just,” and Christians, by and large, accepted it. It is now clear that the Bush Administration immorally drummed up the war with faulty intelligence. The U.S. Subcommittee on Intelligence issued a report stating that, “on numerous occasions,” the Bush Administration’s prewar statements “misrepresented the intelligence and the threat from Iraq.” Barack Obama was one of only a few voices that opposed the war from the beginning, warning against undetermined cost, length, and consequences, and said that we should focus instead on Bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has been proven right. With the realization that the war in Iraq is actually draining us of our ability to fight our real enemies, we must now implement a plan for a responsible, phased withdrawal. Obama has a plan for doing so; McCain refuses to see this as a viable option. So far, the war has cost $566,591,361,000 and counting. The war is costing American taxpayers $10 billion a month! Do we think that money grows on trees? Couldn’t this money have been spent on health care, education, infrastructure, poverty or AIDS relief? Martin Luther King prophetically said, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Also, for many Christians, being “Pro-Life” means more than being against abortion (though it certainly does not mean less). To be bull-headed about winning a war that we should not be fighting puts lives in danger unnecessarily. How many more thousands of our brave soldiers are going to have to die in this war? How many more hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians will die do to this war?

2. The Economy.
Solomon's plea to God in Psalm 72 was, “Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. He will judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.” The Christian Right’s steadfast belief that government does not have the responsibility to care for its people is contrary to Scripture. The biblical prophets spoke frequently to kings and rulers, as well as to the powerful who have economic advantage in a society. Those in charge were the ones called to greatest accountability. A nation that does not care for “the least of these” is guilty of not fostering justice (mishpat) and righteousness (tsedeq). In a just society, those who are able to work must have genuine access to resources so that they can contribute to society as dignified members of the community. In a just society, those unable to care for themselves are cared for by the society. There is nothing unchristian about society having programs that help the poor and needy. I agree with Ron Sider, who wrote, “The biblical story holds together the inestimable worth of each individual person and the communal nature of human beings. Both the radical individualism of contemporary Western democracies and the totalitarian communalism of twentieth-century fascist and communist societies are one-sided perversions of a profound biblical balance. Therefore justice from a biblical perspective must pay equal attention to the rights of individuals and the common good of all.” John McCain seems to be living in the age of the cold war, where American individual freedom and unfettered capitalism were held up as the Christian virtues against those godless communists. Capitalism is the world’s best economic system, no doubt. However, the Republican faith in the “invisible hand” of the free market, in which individuals pursuing their personal self-interest will make for a good society, is seriously flawed. In fact, for the Christian, having this kind of faith in free market capitalism is idolatry, plain and simple. The economics of unfettered capitalism has proved to be destructive to society. If anybody doubted that before the Wall Street collapse, they must not doubt it now. While there is plenty of blame to go around for the recent financial collapse, a major cause for it is a pervasive desire for little regulation of business. McCain has stated unequivocally that he is "fundamentally a deregulator,” that his "fundamental difference" with Barack Obama was that Obama favored "more regulation" while he favored less. McCain’s chief errors during the Keating Five scandal that nearly ended his political career were underestimating the importance of regulation and relying too heavily on the slanted advice from corporate CEOs who benefit from deregulation. He has not learned his lesson. We need to promote “controlled capitalism” in order to ensure that everyone in America has the chance to flourish.

Also, John McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy permanent, and has proposed even more on his own. Equitable taxation is not “socialism” as Sean Hannity has labeled it. The very wealthy should carry their fair load of the tax burden. Under John McCain's tax plan, the rich would pay much less than they do now, the poor and middle-class would pay a bit less, and the result would be that the federal deficit would grow, a study by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center found. The rich would pay more under Barack Obama's tax plan, and the poor and middle-class would pay less. Contrary to the McCain campaign’s claim, Obama is not seeking to raise taxes. According to Business Week, Obama seeks to “hold most income tax rates steady, making permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of individual taxpayers. With those cuts scheduled to expire in 2011, he would allow rates for households making more than $250,000 (or individuals making more than roughly $200,000) to return to earlier levels. Earners who now pay today's maximum 35% rate would see their top marginal rate go back to the 36.9% in effect in the Clinton years.” This seems very reasonable in our financial times. It seems fair to me to let the taxes for the very rich expire as they were originally planned, reverting back to the 1.9% higher rate. The Congressional Budget Office projects that if Bush’s tax cuts are made permanent, the budget deficit will be $443 billion by the end of the next president’s first term. Let that sink in: Four Hundred Forty Three Billion Dollars in the hole! On top of that, McCain has promised to cut corporate taxes by a hundred billion a year ($4 billion of this for American oil companies, more than a billion for Exxon-Mobile alone). Not enough? Add in McCain’s promise to get rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, designed to ensure that the very rich pay at least a minimum percent of their income in tax. Non-partisan tax experts put the ten year cost of this at $1 trillion. The McCain plan provides tax cuts to the very rich and to big corporations. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 25 percent of McCain’s cuts would go to people earning over $2.8 million a year (the top one-tenth of one percent). Each would get an average tax cut of $269,000, over and above what George Bush gave them. As Time Magazine wrote, “When Barack Obama says a John McCain Administration would amount to a third term of George W. Bush, he's not just blowing smoke, especially when it comes to economic policy.” It is time for a change. This cannot go on any longer. Barack Obama's economic agenda—health-care reform, infrastructure investments, and alternative energy—are not radical ideas but very rational solutions to the growing problems of our times.

Lastly, we must realize that abortion is an economic issue. Obama certainly is properly labeled “Pro-Choice,” but he recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (struggling as a single mother, without a steady income, without good employment prospects, without health-care guarantees, and a stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). Obama proposes to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life.

3. Foreign Relations
In the wake of the Bush White House, the nation’s reputation in the world is at an all-time low. What we need now is diplomacy that will act less unilaterally and rebuild our alliances. The first step to our “loving our enemies” is to actually listen to them, to seek to understand them and why they are hostile toward us. Obama has been ridiculed for saying that he “will pursue tough, direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran.” Obama’s website further explains his stand: “Barack Obama will present the Iranian regime with a clear choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, they would offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, Obama and Biden will step up our economic pressure and political isolation.” On the other hand, John McCain’s combative tendencies are troubling. I agree with Fareed Zakaria when he wrote that McCain “wants to keep the battle going in Iraq, speaks casually of bombing Iran, and is skeptical of the Bush administration's diplomacy with North Korea. He wants to kick Russia out of the G8 and humiliate China by excluding it from that body as well. He sees a "league of democracies" locked in conflict with an alliance of autocracies. This is cold-war nostalgia, not a strategy for the 21st century.” The United States, as the super power, needs to be seen as a benevolent and good neighbor, not a tyrant that does what it wants whenever it wants. Barack Obama offers a new way that is desperately needed.

4. The Campaigns.
In spite of what the McCain-Palin campaign has been implying, Barack Obama is not a covert Muslim (McCain has allowed speakers to call Obama by his middle name) with ties to terrorists (McCain has succumbed to the Hannity-esque fear mongering over the non-issue of Bill Ayers) who has a radical agenda for taking over the country from real Americans (Palin has actually called supporters of Obama “un-American”). The McCain campaign has been disgraceful in its win-at-all-costs tactics. We need to rid our nation of the politics of fear, division, character assassination and the outright propaganda of Karl Rove and his underlings. This kind of politics obviously works – it is what got Bush the Republican nomination over McCain in 2000 (Bush and Rove shamelessly exploited the fact that McCain had adopted a daughter from Bangladesh to stir up racism against McCain in South Carolina, telling people in “push polls” that McCain had an illegitimate black child). After having been the victim of the tactics of the Republican political hacks, you’d think that McCain would have done the honorable thing and scorned them. Instead, he has let them run his campaign and he has let them tarnish a reputation that he had created that was honorable. This says a lot about the character of John McCain. Slander is not a strong enough word for what the McCain-Palin campaign has done. Christians should stand up and say, “Enough with hate-filled politics!” To his credit, Barack Obama has withstood a grueling campaign of attacks. Certainly he has stretched the truth himself (as all politicians sadly do), but nothing from the Obama campaign compares with calling his opponent un-American or a pal to terrorists. He has remained cool, even-keeled, and has provided thoughtful and reasoned responses and ideas throughout both the primary campaign and the campaign versus McCain. After two years of campaigning, Barack Obama has been fully vetted, and he has shown that he is ready to be President.

I think that if you are going to vote for Obama for any of these legitimate reasons, then it is a good, wise decision. However, there are some illegitimate reasons to vote for Barack Obama.

1. We have to move as far away from the Religious Right as possible.
A new generation of Christians does not want to be associated with the ugliness of the Religious Right. They are repulsed by the history of the “Moral Majority” and the “Christian Coalition;” they are scornful of Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. However, the answer to the disaster of the Religious Right is not to swing the pendulum and create a new Religious Left. I fear that this is what Brian McLaren has done, along with many of the young evangelicals with whom I associate through my ministry to college students. It should be said that Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo have always been thoughtful voices from the evangelical left, voices that we need to hear. But evangelicals need to be outside of partisan politics if we are to have any sway with either party. As long as one political party thinks they have our vote sown up, they will no longer listen to us. As Paul Sartarelli said yesterday at The Chapel’s Current Critical Issues Forum, “we need to strike a balance between the two Jims” (that is, Dobson and Wallis).

2. John McCain is old and may die in office.
As you drive into Cleveland, there is a huge billboard on the interstate that simply states, “McCain is old.” Okay; I knew that. He’s 72. So is my dad, but he’s a pretty bright man. Sure, my dad can act crotchety now and then, but I’ve been acting that way for several years myself! As The Politico's Roger Simon wrote, John Kennedy “was sick from age 13 through the rest of his life, was on chronic-pain medication throughout his presidency and had Addison's disease, an endocrine disorder that until 1940 was a terminal illness. Kennedy survived it through cortisone injections, which at the time only rich people could afford. Dr. Jeffrey Kelman, who examined Kennedy's medical records in 2002, said, ‘He was never healthy. I mean, the image you get of vigor and progressive health wasn't true.’ The point being: Electing a young person to the presidency is no guarantee that he or she will be healthy or stay healthy.”

3. McCain = Bush on everything.
Certainly, it is true that as McCain closed in on seeking to become the next president, he began voting more and more in line with his fellow Republican, George Bush. The “Maverick” voted 100% with Bush in 2008, but that number drops the further back you go: 95% in 2007, 77% in 2005 and 67% in 2001. One gets the feeling that in order to get the Republican nomination and to shore up the base of the Republicans, McCain was less reluctant to be “mavericky.” But voting records do not tell the whole story. It is clear that McCain’s policies on Climate Change, Health Care, and Torture are different from George Bush. And these are not small issues.

4. Obama is a transcendent figure that will change the world.
Bob Hyatt has had a running series on his blog that he calls “Messiah Watch,” where he shows YouTube videos and artwork from people who are placing a bit too much hope in a mere human being (see here and here and here). Nancy Pelosi introduced Obama at a fundraiser by calling him "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time." Oh, come on. We need to get a grip. Obama is not the second coming. Not even close.

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


What Are Your Three Favorite Podcasts?

I want to discover good podcasts. So I've started this meme.

What are your three favorite podcasts?

I tag nine people, and they tag some people...
and so on...
and so on...
Until we all have discover new podcasts!

And, of course, you can comment here as well with your favorite podcasts, and why you like them.

My three:

1. Fermi Project
The best podcast, period (IMHO). In a concise 20-minute podcast, Gabe Lyons and Andy Crouch interview thought leaders on the topics of the Culture, the Future, the Church, and the Gospel. A vital podcast for anyone wanting to explore how people of the Christian faith can and should shape culture.

2. Pray as You Go
"A new prayer session is produced every day. It is not a 'Thought for the Day', a sermon or a bible-study, but rather a framework for your own prayer. Lasting between ten and thirteen minutes, it combines music, scripture and some questions for reflection. The aim is to help you to:
  • become more aware of God's presence in your life
  • listen to and reflect on God's word
  • grow in your relationship with God.
It is produced by Jesuit Media Initiatives, with material written by a number of British Jesuits and other experts in the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola.

3. Behind the Lines
This is a three hour weekly music show from The Dividing Line internet broadcast network, featuring the latest in progressive rock, plus an hour dedicated to everything Genesis (rare live cuts, solo works, and covers by other bands).

I tag...
Gideon Strauss
Dan Turis
Byron Borger
Scot McKnight
Michael Kruse
Steve McCoy
Tedd Gossard
Bob Hyatt
Rick Meigs


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


Jesus Creed reviewed by Dan Turis

My friend Dan Turis, campus minister at The Ohio State University and a great thinker, is writing a detailed review of Scot McKnight's The Jesus Creed at his blog, "Feelin' Fine."

The series starts here
and then continues on his blog.

Great Googly Moogly!

In honor of our newest commenter, I present one of my favorite commercials:


Work in Community for Community

A Christian Perspective on Work, Part 4

Humanity is built for community and community is built for humanity. We were created to work in harmony with others in order to serve the community, a synergistic force for the good of all. We work together to move society forward. This work is the Hebrew concept of Shalom – the universal flourishing of everyone in the community through our work.

In the community there are mini-communities that do the same basic services – creating specializations for the good of the larger community. There are mentors and apprentices, whether in the trades or in the professions. This is the way it is meant to be.

In Genesis, we read of families that train up members in specialties. We read how these specialties arose in Genesis 4:19-22,
“Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play the harp and flute. Zillah also had a son, Tubal-Cain, who forged all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron.”

Work is a social activity. Jabal’s skill in animal husbandry, Jubal’s skill in the arts, and Tubal-Cain’s skill in craftsmanship were all handed down to others, so that they are called the “fathers” of these trades. We were meant to create sub-communities in which specialists can teach the skills needed for specific types of work. These are what we see in trade associations, colleges in universities, mentorships and internships. It is good that humans work together in this way.

Work is accomplished in cooperation with others. When Moses is given the mandate to build the tabernacle, he was not commanded to do everything on his own. He was to work cooperatively with gifted people in the community.
"Then the LORD said to Moses “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you.” (Exodus 31:1-6)

Bezalel and Oholiab were gifted for work, and in cooperative community, the work that glorifies God was done. Spiritual Gifts for work is yet another subject that needs to be explored. That will be my next post.

The point here is this: Work was not meant to simply be an individualistic endeavor, something that we do on our own as we seek to fulfill some personal desire for worth. It is meant to be communal – in the training for work, in the cooperation to get work done, and in the benefits to society.

A Christian Perspective on Work:
Part 1: The Imago Dei and God the Worker
Part 2: Satisfaction in Work
Part 3: God Provides Through Our Work
Part 4: Work in Community for Community


FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

The candidates were not 100 percent accurate. To say the least.

From FactCheck.org:

Biden and Palin debated, and both mangled some facts.
  • Palin mistakenly claimed that troop levels in Iraq had returned to “pre-surge” levels. Levels are gradually coming down but current plans would have levels higher than pre-surge numbers through early next year, at least.

  • Palin repeated a false claim that Obama once voted in favor of higher taxes on “families” making as little as $42,000 a year. He did not. The budget bill in question called for an increase only on singles making that amount, but a family of four would not have been affected unless they made at least $90,000 a year.
  • Biden wrongly claimed that McCain “voted the exact same way” as Obama on the budget bill that contained an increase on singles making as little as $42,000 a year. McCain voted against it. Biden was referring to an amendment that didn't address taxes at that income level.
  • Palin claimed McCain’s health care plan would be “budget neutral,” costing the government nothing. Independent budget experts estimate McCain's plan would cost tens of billions each year, though details are too fuzzy to allow for exact estimates.

  • Biden wrongly claimed that McCain had said "he wouldn't even sit down" with the government of Spain. Actually, McCain didn't reject a meeting, but simply refused to commit himself one way or the other during an interview.
  • Palin wrongly claimed that “millions of small businesses” would see tax increases under Obama’s tax proposals. At most, several hundred thousand business owners would see increases.
For full details on these misstatements, and on additional factual disputes and dubious claims, read to the Analysis at FactCheck.org.


The Blame Game – Pointing Fingers Concerning the Financial Crisis

Like many of you, I receive emails from friends from both sides of the political spectrum, forwarding "sure-fire evidence" that either the Republicans or the Democrats must be blamed for the Wall Street meltdown.

Sadly, most of us are so ideologically slanted that we are unable to see this as mere punditry and automatically buy into the mud that our side is slinging.

However, it needs to be said that there is plenty of blame to go around for this mess. The Economist writes,
“All evidence suggests that the current meltdown was built from layered irresponsibility. This financial crisis is a genuinely democratic one, with hard-working homeowners and billionaire villains each playing a role.”
Both the Right and the Left are attempting to simplify this multilayered and complex problem by pointing the finger at the other. FactCheck.org takes on two ads– one from MoveOn.org and the other from the McCain campaign – and shows how shallow these quick swipes at the other party can be.

Joe Miller and Brooks Jackson of FactCheck.org write,
“The U.S. economy is enormously complicated. Screwing it up takes a great deal of cooperation. Claiming that a single piece of legislation was responsible for (or could have averted) is just political grandstanding. We have no advice to offer on how best to solve the financial crisis. But these sorts of partisan caricatures can only make the task more difficult.”

According to Miller and Jackson, here's a partial list of those who might need to share in the fault:
  • The Federal Reserve, which slashed interest rates after the dot-com bubble burst, making credit cheap.
  • Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively.
  • Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses.
  • Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes.
  • The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and downpayment requirements for working- and middle-class families.
  • Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates.
  • Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), and issued bonds using those securities as collateral.
  • The Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market.
  • An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic.
  • Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up.


McCain or Obama?

I have been an admirer of Ron Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), for years. He is perhaps the most thoughtful and insightful evangelical leaders of political thought. Among is many books include Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity, The Scandal of Evangelical Politics: Why Are Christians Missing the Chance to Really Change the World?, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: Why Are Christians Living Just Like the Rest of the World?, and Good News and Good Works: A Theology for the Whole Gospel.

In this article from PRISM (the magazine from ESA), Sider gives some great insights into the candidates on many of the issues that should concern evangelicals in this election.

McCain or Obama? (pdf)