Why ‘the evangelical voter’ doesn’t mean anything (COMMENTARY)

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A "Vote Here" sign on display in front of Westwood City Hall on Nov. 4, 2014, in Westwood, Kan. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

A "Vote Here" sign on display in front of Westwood City Hall on Nov. 4, 2014, in Westwood, Kan. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

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(RNS) When politicians or reporters treat the evangelical movement as monolithic, they are most likely taking just one segment of evangelicals (usually, “white” and “older”).

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  • Larry

    “Why ‘the evangelical voter’ doesn’t mean anything?”

    Because evangelicals by and large decided to jump into bed with the most extreme elements of conservative politics. Thus cheapening the alleged moral conviction of their stance. Becoming nothing more than a rubber stamp for the GOP fiscal policies. Evangelical political liberals are rare and not statistically significant.

    The GOP knows that the “social conservatism” of evangelical voters has zero chance of success at a national level and is largely unconstitutional. But they come out and vote for candidates who support corporatist and oligarchic policies which undermine the middle and working classes.

    As for “…consistent witness of the church regarding the sanctity of human life.”

    Christian notions of sanctity of life have a nasty habit of ending at anyone not Christian (or their type of Christian), the poor, women, gays, and racial minorities. Religion is no measure of moral thinking.

  • G Key

    Re “It’s true that, on abortion, evangelicals could rightly be described as a monolith. But that position is not unique to evangelicals: Catholics and Orthodox Christians have inherited a deep and enduring respect for human life…”:

    Mr. Wax, not all people of any given faith have honest claim to that assertion, let alone exclusive claim. In fact, many people of no faith at all “have inherited a deep and enduring respect for human life”.

    For many of us, that includes a deep & enduring respect for what human life means — including boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, & business, not to mention, rights, privacy, equality, & choice.

    What a woman legally does with her own body is neither the choice nor the business of anyone else. Not yours. Not mine. Not some religion’s. And not the government’s.

    A fetus may be a potential person, but a woman already is a person, with her own life to live, according to her beliefs & values, not anyone else’s….

  • G Key

    … It might (emphasis) be different if a stranger offered to pay for her reduced-hours wages & maternal leave, medical costs & transportation, parental costs (including surrogate parenting wages if she wasn’t ready, willing, or able to be a parent), through the child’s 20th year (including food, clothing, medical services, school & college, room & board, automobile & fuel, maintenance, insurance, & all other child care costs), pain & suffering, loss of professional & other opportunities during all those years, inconvenience fees, & whatever additional remuneration she might demand for agreeing to cater to a stranger’s personal beliefs & values instead of following her own equally sacred & inviolate beliefs & values, just so that stranger could feel better about what that woman did with her life. Yes, it might be different then. But only if she accepted the offer.

    And that would be every bit as much her exclusive choice as are contraception & abortion.

  • Jack

    G Key, the writer was not taking a position on abortion so much as stating the church’s position on abortion through the ages.

    But since you insisted on shifting the subject……You sound like someone who doesn’t want to be lumped in with heartless and depraved Roman pagans from 20 centuries ago on the life issue, but that’s exactly where you are if you’re for abortion all the way to birth. All the empty rhetoric in the world won’t change that.

    You’ve chosen to turn the civilizational clock back 20 centuries by your position if it’s as absolutist as it sounds. You have embraced the forces of reaction instead of progress. Supporting unrestricted abortion is about as progressive as supporting chattel slavery, witch doctors, blood letting, and burning widows.

  • Jack

    G Key, yours is a valid argument for birth control but totally useless for abortion because by definition, abortion ends a life rather than prevents it from beginning.

    Such is the case with most absolutist arguments in favor of abortion. They make a medieval assumption that life magically begins at birth and not a second earlier. A simple look at a sonogram reveals otherwise.

  • G Key

    Jack, some people believe contraception ends life, since contraceptives generally prevent attachment of a fertilized egg to the uterine wall.

    Some believe any attempt to interfere with spermatozoa and ova is wrongful, since it interferes with the process of creating life.

    Some believe the right to abortion is not absolute all the way to full-term birth. I am one of those, despite your sure assertions about someone you don’t even know. (How offensive.)

    My points, which I wish you’d address, are that (1) not everyone believes a zygote or fetus is yet a rightful human life; (2) their beliefs are as protected and sacred as ours; (3) the decision to commit a woman’s body to bear a fertilized egg to term couldn’t possibly be more personal, private, and exclusive to that woman; (4) forcing your beliefs on her is “absolutely” unconscionable; and (5) the most — and very least — you could do is offer to pay her, in the event that her choice to abort is financially driven.

  • I think that Trevin underestimates the roll over that past evangelical voting trends have on today. Yes, evangelicals have more diverse views now. On the other hand, we can still safely say that evangelicals still tend to vote Republican and adhere to conservative political ideologies overall. At the same time, times are changing and that is where we see a diversification that Trevin was pointing to.

  • Jack

    The problem, GKey, is, again, that human life doesn’t magically begin at birth.

    In order to believe that, you have to toss science and sonograms aside.

    Courtesy of science, we know too much and all the euphemisms and obfuscations and rhetorical tricks won’t change that.

    You can built a big bonfire and burn every science book on earth that mentions fetal development…..but it will not wipe out the knowledge contained therein.

    Ideologues — from religiously fanatical theocrats to secular totalitarians –have tried this with other forms of knowledge they deem dangerous throughout history. It doesn’t work because you can’t erase the memory of what is and what has already been learned.

    If you burned every book in the world that says 2 and 2 make 4, you would never erase the knowledge that it does. If you shamed, bullied, and cowed every person who accepts this fact into stone-cold silence, it would not wipe out the reality of it.

  • G Key

    All your facts, beliefs, and odd tangents about this stranger’s “secular totalitarianism” (That’s a good one!) skip the point:

    What a woman does with her own body, and her moral judgment, and her rightful choice, are none of your business.

    If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one.

  • Jack

    Way to ignore the obvious, G Key.

    And way to ignore the fact that if you’re advocating abortion any time, any place, and for any reason, more than half the women in this country disagree with you and strongly.

    Find me a gender gap on abortion, G Key. There is none. Women in at least equal numbers as men completely disagree with your contention that abortion is an absolute and unconditional right at every step in the pregnancy.

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