2014: Evangelicals and the Midterm Elections

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voteWhile the Republican Party is far from perfect, it is currently the political party that polls show most closely matches the core policy beliefs of values voters: evangelical, “born again” Christians and Catholics. According to pollster George Barna, there are 77 million “born again” evangelical and Catholic voters in the United States, but only about 30.6 million of them voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Roughly 20 million voted for President Obama. The shocking number, however, is that 26 million values voters stayed home, not bothering to vote at all. The reasons cited are complicated and numerous: everything from discomfort with Mormonism to election apathy, to a distrust of the establishment.

As the 2014 midterm election approaches, disengaged values voters must understand that elections at every level of government have consequences. Look no further than Houston, Texas, where Mayor Annise Parker is trampling the constitutional rights of church pastors by attempting to force them to turn over their sermons on same-sex “marriage.”

On the federal level, it was the conservative-leaning values voters’ lack of participation at the polls that gave us Barack Obama. But there were 20 million values voters who did vote for the president. They, like the rest of America, bought into the president’s promise of hope and change — only to find out that what they got was what most people of faith feared, a president who would flip flop on marriage, a president that would force taxpayers to pay for abortions, a president who would seem to turn a blind eye to Christian persecution worldwide as its branches of religious repression grow in our own country, and a president who’s lack of support for our Judeo-Christian brothers and sisters in places like Israel would create a playground for terrorists worldwide.

Democrat campaign rhetoric claims that neither Barack Obama nor his policies are on the ballot on November 4. But that’s a lie.

In the past six years, Senate Democrats have overwhelmingly supported this president’s failed policies and rudderless leadership. However, now that it’s an election year, these same Democrats are hoping the American people come down with a severe case of amnesia. They won’t, however. Especially not the values voters. They have very long memories; and when they are excited and energized, values voters can swing an election.

For example, when the George W. Bush presidential campaign needed to get values voters to the polls, they sought the help of friendly congregations and pastors. They knew that in order to win re-election in 2004, they needed to draw four million more values voters to the polls than they did in 2000. One of the ways the campaign sought to accomplish that goal was by supporting both state and federal marriage amendments. That campaign issue brought evangelical voters to the polls in record numbers, with Bush winning an astounding 79 percent of evangelicals and 52 percent of Catholics. What’s interesting is that those values voters were so energized about the candidate and the issues that they, not the campaign, were largely responsible for a massive national grassroots organization and incredible turnout efforts — efforts that have been sorely missed in election cycles since. Just ask John McCain and Mitt Romney. They simply didn’t turn out with the same numbers or the same fervor.

The question before us now is whether evangelical Christians and Catholics, both those who stayed home in 2012 and those who voted for the president in 2012, will see the 2014 midterm election as an opportunity to right the ship — a chance to send a clear message to Washington. As the president’s policies stunt economic growth, attack religious liberty, and squelch freedom of speech, American values voters must realize that control of Congress hangs in the balance by six seats in the Senate. If the very Senate Democrats who stood by the president’s every decision are on the ballot, then a vote for that Democrat is most assuredly a vote with the president. The two are inseparable – and quite frankly, damaging to women.

Under President Obama and Senate Democrats, 3.7 million women have moved into poverty, and the median income for women has dropped over $700. But the Democrat Party refuses to address these serious issues. Instead, they pander to women with the proverbial box of chocolates, which includes promises of so-called “free contraception” and “birth control”. Sadly, the Democrats have continued to frame any opposition to abortion or abortion-inducing drugs (even if it’s simply asking not to pay for them for others) as a “war on women.” In fact, according to Kimberly Strassel’s October 9, 2014, piece in the Wall Street Journal, “Democrats by some estimates have already devoted as much as 60 percent of their $120 million in midterm TV advertising to the ‘war on women’ — claiming Republicans candidates are anti-birth control, anti-women’s health, anti-reproductive rights, anti-equal pay.”

We should all be offended that Democrats describe policy differences as a “war on women.” It’s ignorant and insulting when Democrats equate a policy debate to “war” when our sisters overseas are in the midst of a real war – being attacked, sold into slavery, and even killed at the hands of ISIS, Boko Haram, and other terrorists.

We as the freest women in the world must reject the campaign demagoguery and embrace the unique opportunity we have to elect public servants who will work to protect the female victims across the world from an actual “war.”

Gentlemen, make no mistake. When Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — and, by association, his brilliant female Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch — and the Tea Party abuse women because of their conservative beliefs, she means you, too. You, born-again Christians, are the Neanderthals holding women back because you think babies in the womb have rights.

The “war on women” message may have worked well in 2012, but that was then, and this is now. Even in blue states like Colorado, the liberal editorial board at the Denver Post is sick and tired of this made up “war” and endorsed Cory Gardner, the Republican in the race, saying, “Rather than run on his record, Udall’s (Democrat) campaign has devoted a shocking amount of energy and money trying to convince voters that Gardner seeks to outlaw birth control despite the congressman’s call for over-the-counter sales of contraceptives. Udall is trying to frighten voters rather than inspire them with a hopeful vision. His obnoxious one-issue campaign is an insult to those he seeks to convince.”

This is also proof positive that fighting back works. However, if evangelicals decide to stay home again this midterm election — for whatever reason — there will be many long-lasting, negative ramifications both to our nation and citizens worldwide. History shows that when conservative-leaning values voters are energized, we win elections. Candidates who buck energized values voters should be nervous because studies show that millions of Americans still believe that traditional marriage should be the preeminent family institution, 58 percent of Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortion, 64 percent don’t support late-term abortion, and most Americans are united around the commitment to fight terrorism and to support Israel.

We owe it to ourselves to learn what both parties believe and then to vote our values. Don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at the Republican platform and the Democrat platform and then vote. This election will have fiscal, cultural, and global consequences. It our duty to take the time to learn the truth and to work for just laws and just governance. Pastors in particular have a responsibility to urge their congregants to register to vote. A failure to engage in our civic duty has led to a failure of representation at the highest levels of government. But we can’t view this as a stumbling block; we have to see it as a stepping-stone to increased enthusiasm and participation. The results of November 4’s midterm elections will send a clear message to Washington.

If we born again believers fail to stand up for our beliefs at the ballot box this year, then very soon we will be deemed irrelevant to the process, and our concerns will only be marginalized and ignored. At that point in time, pastors in Houston and around the nation may not have the freedom to remind us to vote. Live out your faith in every aspect of your life — even at the ballot box, by voting your values, or you won’t count in the future. It’s high time to wake up.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was published on The Christian Post. Click here to read it.