Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Uh, Oh...Here We Go Again (Dobson, Evangelicals, and Party Alliances)

I grimaced a bit as the headline popped up in my news feed: "Evangelist Accuses Obama of 'distorting' Bible." Across the blogosphere liberal secularists and theists alike were instantly all over Dr. James Dobson, head of focus on the family, citing this as another example of Right Wing Christianity.

Ironically, minutes before reading the article I had listened to radio broadcast in which Dobson expressed dismay for the Republican party, in that after Evangelicals threw their support behind the party, the party turned their backs on evangelical values. Dobson himself seemed to admit that Evangelicals had jumped in bed with Right Wing Conservatism.

In no way do my words here serve as a rebuke to Dobson. In fact, Focus on the Family passed an in depth IRS investigation after being accused of endorsing Republican candidates not too long ago. All I am saying is humans, politicians, and parties are quite fallible, as Dobson learned, and should not be thought of as the sole means to accomplishing an end, whether that end be spiritual, social, ethical, etc. Voting on issues, many of which may be intrinsically connected with the a moral principle, is quite acceptable. But voting strictly based on party is silly since parties are far from static and change over time (sometimes extremely small increments of time; i.e. the Bush administration).

While I would love to digress at this point and discuss, as I see it, blunders made by both Dobson and Obama, I would be straying from the purpose of this post, which is to serve as warning.

Young evangelicals, a group I personally find myself identifying with less and less (both the 'young' and the 'evangelical') are much more flexible when it comes to party lines, say statisticians such as the Barna Group. I don't need charts and figures to tell me this. Many friends who I sat next to at seminary have quickly covered up the Bush stickers on their bumpers with Obama.

Many, unfortunately, have done so based off reactionary emotions. Jaded by Evangelicals and Evangelicalism, they resond like a pendulum, rejecting anything remotely attached with their failing system besides Christ and the Bible, Republicanism being one of these things. Others are "social misfits," as Claiborne terms them. They are more socially liberal, yet maintain conservative evangelical morals and principals, the latter of which actually supports their social liberalism. They actually cannot identify with either party but may vote democratic based on social issues supported by a candidates platform.

No matter what the case, I fear that many of these individuals may make the same mistake Dobson and many of his peers made: hopping bed with a party in an attempt to leverage religious weight to affect or "own" the party. The ends to this means is the ownership of the religious institution by the party, as admitted by Dobson in the radio spot I listened to. It only causes division, both in the church and state, and warrants Christians being thought of as ignorant.


Adam said...

Bingo. I've been dealing with this problem with my parents ever since I started discussing my interest in Obama's ideas. My dad snarls back to me, "He's a liberal."

I asked what that meant.

He replied something about wanting the government to run our lives, kill innocent babies, and ruin families by allowing homosexuals to get married.

I don't care if you like Dobson, Mccain, Obama, GWB, or Rush Limbaugh. I just want to talk about issues and DISCUSS politics: not argue them.

nate said...

a little late in responding, but thanks for the comment.

I know parents always hope we vote exactly how they do...I hope you guys can get into some some good discussion...nice comment on the difference between discussing and arguing!

2Pete said...

Good thoughts man. I did a post on this, but as usual, you're gentler and more thoughtful than I when it comes to indicting conservative Evangelicals.

While I'm shamelessly voting for Obama (I jumped in bed with the Dems when Kerry ran, after voting for Bush in 2000) I agree that most of us haven't learned our lesson concerning the Bush presidency. We whored ourselves to the Republicans in the 1980s and now we're just as ready to whore ourselves to the other side, expecting the pendulum to stop swinging.

Sooner or later, we're going to have to be more thoughtful and stop sleeping with people who tell us what we want to hear.