Faith in Public Life crunched some exit poll numbers last night and asked experts on the intersection of faith and politics to provide some commentary. First, the numbers.
Eighty-seven percent of voters said they were worried about the economy, and 62% said the economy is the most important issue facing the country. Exit polling, however, debunks the narrative being perpetuated by some partisans that the election was a mandate to implement a Republican agenda. It’s hard to make that case when forty-three percent of voters polled had a favorable view of the Democratic party, compared to 42% who had a favorable view of the Republican party. In many ways, the results last night can be read as a desperate cry from a weary electorate hungry for more bipartisan cooperation to lift the nation out of our economic crisis. Voters in 2010 were noticeably older and more politically conservative than the 2008 electorate. In 2008, 18% of voters were under 30; this year 11% were under 30. In 2008, 53% of voters were 45 or older; this year 67% were 45 or older. A significant flip was evident among Catholic voters. In this election, 54% percent of Catholics supported Republican House candidates, compared to 42 percent in 2008 and 44 percent in 2006. In 2008, 54% of Catholic voters voted for President Obama. The Senate race in Pennsylvania was an outlier, as Catholics nearly evenly split on support for Democratic candidate Joe Sestak and Republican candidate (and winner) Pat Toomey (51% breaking for Toomey and 49% for Sestak).
Some noteworthy graphs:
Nobody needs feel shame to be a Republican, because when it came time to confront the original sin of the nation—slavery—the Republican Party was on the Lord’s side. In the great battle of my time, the war against communist tyranny, the Republican Party led in the defense of free markets and freedom of thought.
The Republican Party has always been the party of Evangelicals. Lincoln was elected by appealing to our beliefs and this has not changed in one hundred and fifty years.
No Christian puts his trust in princes. We remember that no earthly party is God’s party, because He is never a Republican or Democrat, being a committed monarchist. No Christian votes simply for party, but is open to good men and women where ever they may be found. We are, at all times, first subjects of Christendom and only secondarily citizens of this Republic.
But King Jesus has not yet come to rule and reign on the Earth and so we must go on living in anticipation of His coming. We live this side of Paradise and so have to spend centuries developing a political philosophy.
The philosophy we develop might be wrong, so we hold it more loosely than doctrine. We know other Christians have not yet given up on socialism or a bigger government than we are willing to tolerate. It is not so much their goals we attack, but their means. We long to help the poor and believe in universal health care, but believe that bigger government will do neither well and will hurt our freedoms.
We would give all our money in taxes if we thought it would end poverty, but have seen that it only enriches the state at the cost of liberty. We create statist masters and the poor are with us always.
John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Professor of Philosophy at Biola University. In 1996 he received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Rochester. John Mark Reynolds can be found blogging regularly atScriptorium Daily.
According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, 61% of Americans say it is important that members of Congress have strong religious beliefs. 51% of Americans also say that churches should keep out of politics, though 43% indicated the church has an obligation to express its views on social and political questions.
The survey also reflects that President Obama’s “Muslim Problem” still persists, with 18% of Americans stating they believe the president is a practicing Muslim. Only 34% of Americans believe the president is a practicing Christian, down 14 points from March 2010. Wow.
Susan Jacoby is a real-life card carrying Secular Humanist. She is program director of the Center for Inquiry-New York City, a rationalist think tank, and a member of the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America.
In her most recent post for the Washington Post’s On Faith blog she decries the efforts of conservative evangelicals to inform their congregants of the issues in the coming mid-term elections. Some of the activities she laments include:
* Planning, advertising and conducting non-partisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives.
* Educating the congregation regarding biblical teaching on civil government, the responsibility for culture engagement, and the importance of being informed by biblical principles when considering current issues, candidates’ positions, etc.
* Mobilizing members of the congregation to vote their values.
Oh, and let the church not forget to provide transportation to the polls for those who need it.
Horrors. People actually voting their values and other people actually driving them to the polls to do it. What is this country coming to?!
Her piece is a rallying cry to her secularist compatriots who seem to be slumbering under the impression that the Religious Right is dead. She informs them that quite to the contrary:
No secular organization is capable of mounting anything like an organized, church-funded campaign to recruit new voters. Churches reach deep into the daily lives of their most devout members in a way that no secular group can (or, for that matter, would want to do).
One wonders if Susan Jacoby has never heard of unions, which for decades have been mobilizing (intimidating?) their memberships to support a most extreme liberal agenda through the election of Democrat candidates.
Dr. Wayne Grudem is Professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix Seminary. He has just released Politics According to the Bible: A Comprehensive Resource for Understanding Modern Political Issues in Light of Scipture. He’s my guest today (Tuesday, October 12) at 4:20 pm ET.
From Zondervan: Politics—According to the Bible is a readable, comprehensive political philosophy, arguing for Christian involvement based on biblical teachings and a Christian worldview. Covering over 50 specific issues relating to protection of life, marriage, family, economics, environment, national defense, internationalism, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and special interest groups … this sweeping resource is a must-read for today’s Christians.