The Politics of Abortion: Should Christians Vote Straight Ticket?

Article ID: JAF3355 | By: Elliot Miller

A Viewpoint rebuttal to Scott Klusendorf’s, “The 2012 Elections: Five Questions for Pro-Life Advocates”


This article first appeared in the the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, volume 35, number 05 (2012). For further information or to subscribe to the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL go to: http://www.equip.org


Should Christians vote across the board for one political party? If you have been reading the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL for a while now, you might assume that my answer would be yes, since we previously published Viewpoint articles that seemed to be arguing for something like that.1 But the purpose of our Viewpoint department is to help Christians think through difficult issues by allowing advocates of controversial but tenable positions within the body of Christ to make their best case. This means that not everyone at CRI will agree with all Viewpoint articles, and in the case of the recent article by Scott Klusendorf, “The 2012 Elections: Five Questions for Pro-Life Advocates,” I strongly disagreed, even though I believed his position deserved a hearing. In light of my disagreement, it makes sense for me to present the other side of the debate. This should advance the discernment-sharpening purpose of the Viewpoint department all the better.

I should mention that both in Klusendorf’s article and in mine there is some overlap in the use of the words Christian and pro-life. The real concern of the debate is how Christians should vote, but since we have well established in previous articles (many written by Klusendorf himself) that the Christian position on abortion is pro-life, and since the abortion issue is key to this discussion, the terms often, but not always, are used interchangeably. But, of course, the terms are not synonymous.

The fact that this is a feature-length Viewpoint installment and not an editorial also needs to be noted. Although I am the editor-in-chief of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL, what I write here is not the official position of the Christian Research Institute. It is my opinion and does not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of Hank Hanegraaff or anyone else associated with CRI.

I stress this particularly because, no matter how discrete I succeed at being, this topic will undoubtedly provoke strong reactions in some readers. I’m not deaf to what many evangelicals are saying concerning our current president and his party, and the tone that often accompanies the words. To some readers I suspect that merely opening for discussion the possibility of a Christian voting otherwise than Republican will seem like heresy.

It may help dampen down passions to note a principle that CRI has always both taught and followed, which is that political differences between Christians should not be considered nearly as important as theological differences (which themselves have varying degrees of importance and are usually not worthy of division). Furthermore, if some theological differences are nearly impossible to resolve from Scripture, how much more so can political differences be, which usually are not addressed in the Bible and need to be argued from principles that may be drawn from Scripture, but are often used to support strikingly different conclusions? All this should leave us with an attitude of humility and charity toward those with whom we politically disagree, but sadly this is often not the case.

We may passionately disagree with one another about global warming or “Obamacare,” but this in no way should hinder our Christian fellowship and unity. This is a truth I can honestly say I have walked as well as talked for more than four decades. I have often disagreed with even my closest brothers and sisters in Christ on political issues, but these differences have never come between us in the least, since we are citizens of a higher Kingdom, where “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, there is neither slave nor free man” (Gal. 3:28), and, we might rightly add today, there is neither Republican nor Democrat (not to mention Independents, for we are all gladly dependent on, and subservient to, the King who unites us all in Himself).

THE RATIONALE BEHIND STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING

As I understand it, the argument for straight-ticket voting as represented by JOURNAL contributor Scott Klusendorf can be summarized as follows: while there are many issues Christians can and should care about, the right to elective abortion made possible nationally by the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling is the paramount moral issue of our time, comparable to slavery in pre–Civil War America and the Holocaust inflicted on Jews by Nazi Germany. Just as one would not have voted for candidates on the ticket of a party that endorsed slavery, so one should not vote for candidates whose party endorses elective abortion. Since abortion is the premier moral issue of our time, no matter how many concerns one may have about a pro-life party in other areas, as long as they are the only pro-life party, they should always receive the conscientious Christian’s vote.

This even applies when a congressional candidate for the “pro-abortion party” proclaims himself to be pro-life, while his opponent from the “pro-life party” is pro-choice. Strategically, the argument goes, it is more important to increase the size of the pro-life party in Congress than to add to the number of pro-life senators or congressmen, since the majority party sets the legislative agenda and has the power to move a bill through a committee and up for a vote before the entire chamber.

Straight-ticket voting is therefore, according to this view, the only moral and wise choice for pro-lifers in America today. One can study candidates’ positions and records during the primaries and choose between those seeking nomination by the pro-life party, but once the general election arrives, one should merely look at the candidates’ party affiliation and let that alone determine one’s votes. And, of course, it goes without mention (and indeed is rarely mentioned by authors, who wish to appear nonpartisan, and by pastors, who wish to maintain their church’s tax exemption) but is quite understood that the “pro-choice party” in the United States is the Democratic and the “pro-life party” is the Republican.

This strategy, it should further be noted, goes beyond individual voters. It has recently been adopted by pro-life organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List. For example, in the 2010 elections the latter organization “spent more to defeat pro-life Democrats than to support pro-life candidates,” and, as a result, five pro-life Democrats failed to win re-election to their House seats.2 This extreme action was taken because the pro-life Democrats supported Obamacare (which they did only after securing an agreement from President Obama not to use the plan to fund abortions3).

PROBLEMS WITH THE STRAIGHT-TICKET VOTING POSITION

It is important to clarify that my primary objection is not to straight-ticket voting per se, although I do not agree with or practice it myself and will be expressing criticisms of it here. If you choose to vote straight ticket, however, I respect it as a decision you have thoughtfully and prayerfully made. What I strongly object to is any assertion or implication that Christians have a moral duty to vote straight ticket. I take this position because voting is a supremely personal act and should be dictated by the voter’s conscience alone.4

Reductio ad Absurdum

When carried to its logical conclusion, the straight-ticket-voting-as-moral-obligation position is shown to be absurd and untenable (this form of argumentation is known formally as reductio ad absurdum—reduction to absurdity). This is because it is simplistic: it does not factor in all of the issues a voter in general and a Christian in particular needs to consider when voting. As a consequence, it violates the integrity of the democratic election process. By taking a one-size-fits-all approach, the position reduces in the general elections what should be a complex, thoughtful, and prayerful process to the mechanical checking off of a single criteria: party affiliation.

The argument assumes that one political party captures biblical values sufficiently to warrant the Christian’s automatic vote. This is probably not the case, and, in any case, cannot be dictated by one Christian to another Christian. Again, in a democracy, voting is supremely a matter of individual conscience. For government by the people truly to work, each citizen needs to embrace her responsibility to be knowledgeable of the candidates and issues and to vote according to her well-formed convictions.

This democratic principle has interesting overlap with the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of believers on which the Protestant Reformation was founded. Indeed, it could be argued that the reason democracy thrived in Protestant America was because of a well-established understanding and practice of this principle.

The Protestant Reformation was launched because Martin Luther’s conscience was bound to the Word of God and to reason and he therefore would not recant his beliefs even when the Pope commanded him to. In the spirit of Luther, Protestants throughout the ages have accepted their responsibility to study Scripture carefully and prayerfully; to rationally reflect on the truths discovered therein, as well as in the general revelation of nature; and then to reach into their consciences to find the truths that they will live by and, if necessary, die for.

Of particular relevance to this article is how this principle plays out when relevant topics are not discussed or dogmatically settled in Scripture. Since the issues that drive our votes are usually in this category, they are not only analogous to, but in some respects merge into, the “disputable matters” discussed in Romans 14. Note that Paul does not tell the Romans what to believe on these issues (and if anyone could, both from knowledge and authority, it would have been him!). Instead, he instructs that “each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind” (v. 5), and one should not judge the others on the opinions they hold (vv. 4, 10–13a).

While one may believe that abortion trumps all other concerns and may freely attempt to convince others that this should be so, he should not expect that all will agree with him, nor judge those who don’t. Christians can, should, and do have deep convictions about a number of issues, including social, economic, and religious concerns. Furthermore, they are right to be concerned about the character, credentials, and competency of candidates, their political philosophy and stand on the issues, and the overall content of their party’s platform. These factors should all be weighed together and contrasted with those pertaining to competing candidates in a thoughtful and prayerful process. While straight-ticket voting may seem a natural choice to activists around a single cause such as outlawing abortion (although I will show below that even that reasoning fails), it doesn’t make sense to the Christian citizen who may indeed care most deeply about that issue but cares very deeply about several other issues as well.

Comparisons of abortion to the Holocaust and slavery are not inappropriate in terms of the moral gravity of these evils, but they fail to strengthen the straight-ticket voting argument because (1) there is no real analogy between abortion and the Holocaust in this respect, since the Holocaust was not a position on a political party’s platform that was up for vote in a representative democracy; and (2) although slavery was in fact not denounced in the Democratic Party’s platforms in the mid nineteenth century,5 it could be argued that Americans who found other positions of value in that party and had ideological, cultural, family, or other ties to it had the option ethically not to abandon it but rather to work from within it to change the offending elements in its platform. This does not mean they would have voted for pro-slavery candidates, but they could have chosen to support pro-abolition candidates with their votes.

The view that straight-ticket voting is a moral obligation also fails to weigh properly the following considerations:

  1. A pro-life ethic should not only apply to the unborn but also to the born, including people whose lives would be lost in a frivolous war, the catastrophic loss of life that could occur from a policy that results in nuclear war, loss of life due to environmental degradation (not just apocalyptic global warming scenarios but present-day famines in Africa and elsewhere that we have the means to do something about), the lives that are being lost daily in America through the ready availability of assault weapons, and so forth. If a candidate claims to be pro-life but promotes reckless policies on some or all of these issues, that needs to be factored in. Although it has often been overstated and unfairly applied, the criticism that we social conservatives are so obsessed with abortion that we ignore other life-and-death issues (i.e., are not consistently pro-life) is not entirely undeserved, and straight-ticket voting around the abortion issue helps build the case against us.
  2. Straight-ticket voting overlooks a candidate’s record on abortion issues. . If the candidate is pro-choice, has he been an activist for that cause or has he demonstrated a commitment to reducing abortions?6 Does the pro-life candidate have a record of standing against abortion or has he conveniently been “talking the talk” only since his campaign was launched?
  3. Straight-ticket voting allows your party to get away with paying mere lip service to your issues. If your party knows they can count on your vote come November, how do you hold them accountable to deliver on their promises? This is not a merely theoretical concern but one based in observing with great frustration the Republican Party’s apathy specifically on the abortion issue for decades, until George W. Bush moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and proved to be an activist pro-life president.7 Your party should be on notice that your vote is something that needs to be freshly earned from election to election.
  4. It does not adequately factor in pro-life Independents. If a Christian is an Independent, then she can’t vote straight ticket in the proper sense of the term because she has no party. To tell her she should always vote Republican because of a pro-life strategy is not to respect the fact that she arrived at her nonaffiliated status because neither party’s platform matches her biblical convictions satisfactorily. The absurdity of such an argument is evident.
  5. It does not adequately factor in pro-life Democrats. Of course, if they followed a straight-ticket philosophy, pro-life Democrats would never cross over and vote for pro-life Republicans. Should we rather say they should always cross over and vote Republican? This is where the absurdity of the argument becomes most evident. It may seem to some evangelicals that all Christians should be Republicans, and perhaps almost all are in their experience; but in the larger world, this is not the case. A very substantial minority of Christians vote Democratic rather than Republican, 8 including: (1) many who emphasize social justice issues, such as those influenced by the work of Jim Wallis and Sojourners magazine, Tony Campolo, and Ron Sider; (2) some from the historic peace church traditions (Mennonite, Brethren, and Friends), especially those in the “neo-Anabaptist” movement; (3) most in the black churches; (4) many who adhere to the blend of social conservatism and fiscal progressivism advocated by the Roman Catholic church (including some non-Catholics); (5) many who were Democrats before becoming evangelicals and, despite perhaps changing their stance on some social issues such as abortion, still find themselves Democrats at heart when it comes to basic principles of government; and (6) many young adults who grew up in evangelical churches, are committed Christians, but see the world somewhat differently than their parents do (perhaps some of your own children). If, on the basis of convictions derived from his reading of the Bible, the Christian strongly agrees with the Democratic Party’s positions on a host of issues such as civil rights, health care, the role of government in matters such as regulating corporate practices and protecting the environment, gun control, and providing a social safety net for the poor, and his differences with the Democratic Party, though perhaps strong, are few, then that person more naturally fits in the Democratic Party than the Republican. It trivializes the democratic process to argue that someone whose heart is with the Democratic Party on most issues must always vote Republican, even in cases when the Democratic candidate is pro-life, let alone in cases where the Republican candidate is pro-choice!

At this point it is crucial for me to stress that I am simply trying to make a point. My purpose is not to serve as an apologist for the Democratic Party or for Left Wing causes. I am not trying to persuade you concerning any of the political positions cited above, nor should I need to for you to see the validity of my argument. For example, you do not have to accept pacifism as a biblical view of war (I don’t) to acknowledge that there is precedent within historic Christianity for reading the Bible that way (going back all the way to some of the early church fathers), and, for a Christian pacifist, voting for a president who seems bent on leading us into war would be a violation of conscience that could supersede all others. Therefore, the moral argument that Christians should vote straight-ticket Republican because of the primacy of the abortion issue fails.

It’s Strategic, All Right—but for Whom?

As for the strategic argument for voting straight-ticket Republican, there is obviously one group who would love for pro-life Democrats and Independents to accept it—Republican campaign strategists! Their priority, of course, is winning elections, not abolishing abortion, and some of them in fact are pro-choice. They will court social conservatives if they need their votes, but they will also court social progressives who are attracted to other items in the Republican package.

People vote Republican for a vast array of reasons, including (1) traditional values, (2) belief in America’s “Manifest Destiny” and/or a strong defense (often hoping that Republicans will not cut funding for the military), and (3) opposition to big government and its accompanying higher taxes (often hoping that Republicans will cut funding for everything, except perhaps the military, along with curbing government regulation of corporate practice, finance, trade, property use, gun sales and ownership, and much more). A coalition of these disparate voting blocs has been forged in the hope that their combined votes will seat Republican candidates in both the executive and legislative branches of government who will advance their several agendas.

The Republican Party therefore serves many people who do not base their values in the Bible, and it has come to be associated with many public policy positions that are not demonstrably based in the Bible as well. While many Christians believe that most or all of these Republican policies and platform positions are compatible with the Bible, others do not, some of whom strongly object to certain of these positions based on their own reading of the Bible. Furthermore, as we look to the future, the new (Millennial) generation of voters trends Democratic in their voting patterns and polls more liberal than their seniors on virtually all other social issues, but they generally track with older voters when it comes to abortion. This means many would likely be attracted to a pro-life candidate if he’s Democratic, but not if he’s Republican.9

Given these realities, to argue that all pro-lifers should only vote Republican is not only absurd but also short-sighted. The Democratic Party was not always as strongly pro-choice as it was in the final quarter of the twentieth century, and that feature of the party could change again. In fact, it has already been changing over the past decade, as Democratic strategists have seen the need to court pro-life voters. In 2008 they supported many pro-life (often overlapping with fiscally conservative “blue dog”) Democrats’ successful campaigns for Congress. Furthermore, the advocacy group Democrats for Life (DFLA) has thousands of members, with new people joining every day,10 despite its loss of support from the larger pro-life movement over the Obamacare flap. This year, for the first time in two decades, a pro-life Democrat, DFLA president Janet Robert, was invited to give oral testimony before the Democratic Platform Committee and suggest language for the 2012 party platform. But these gains notwithstanding, the previously mentioned successful campaign of pro-life groups to sabotage pro-life Democrats in the 2010 elections has significantly weakened the pro-life voice in the Democratic Party.

According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 44 percent of Democrats believe abortion should only be legal in a few or no circumstances.11 If pro-life Democrats continue to gain influence and acceptance within their party, we could find a situation where the stranglehold of pro-choice interests over the Democratic Party is broken, so that even when they are the party in power, there would be less support for pushing through pro-choice legislation. When such legislation did come to a vote, there would be more Democrats joining Republicans in voting against it.

To put all the pro-life eggs in the basket of one party, the Republican, does not in the longer view seem very strategic at all. Why tie the pro-life position to other positions that have nothing to do with the right to life and are repugnant to many people who are strongly pro-life? Why create that kind of baggage for the pro-life position?

THE PENDING COLLAPSE OF THE STATUS QUO

As you no doubt remember, the long-time political divide between Left and Right in America became much more pronounced due to the Iraq War. Since the war this breach has not been mended, as the base members in each party keep electing ideological purists to Congress who consider bipartisanship to be a betrayal of principle. The truth is, however, that compromise is essential in a two-party system if anything is to be accomplished. Thus, as I write, the dreaded “fiscal cliff” is looming in which tax increases and deep cuts in spending (including military spending) could send the nation into another recession unless Congress can find some middle ground on taxes and spending by the end of the year, something they were unable to do the two  previous years. Frustrated by years of gridlock and partisan bickering, several leading senators and representatives with reputations for reaching across the aisle have retired or announced plans to retire, while others have been voted out of office as punishment for their bipartisanship, leaving the hope for future progress even dimmer.

A recent NBC–Wall Street Journal poll found that “56% of Americans say they would vote out every single member of the House and Senate if they could. 55% of liberals, 55% of moderates, and 58% of conservatives say they want all members of Congress gone.”12 There has been so much general dissatisfaction with Washington in recent years that the voting public has been putting a new party in office every election. With such a see-saw of power, how much can the pro-life movement reasonably hope to accomplish if it has no representatives looking out for its interests on the Democratic side? Any progress that is made in one term will likely be reversed in the next. Only when the pro-life cause transcends the political divide will there be a realistic chance of overturning Roe v. Wade.

The party system in America is to a great extent dysfunctional, and no one at present seems to have either the wisdom or the power to get it back on track. There is a reason why the number of registered Independents continues to grow and they now outnumber Republicans and Democrats by 13 percent and 9 percent, respectively.13 The wave of the future seems to be voting for candidates who will work for the common good rather than to stay on the right side of powerful people or to get themselves reelected.

The pro-life movement needs to rethink its partisan strategy and get ahead of this curve. I predict it will find key allies in unexpected places.

Elliot Miller is the editor-in-chief of the CHRISTIAN RESEARCH JOURNAL.

Rebuttal Viewpoints from both Scott Klusendorf and Elliot Miller follow the footnotes below.


 NOTES

  1. See Scott Klusendorf, “The 2012 Elections: Five Questions for Pro-Life Advocates,” Christian Research Journal 34, 6 (2011): 58–60 (http://www.equip.org/articles/the-2012-elections-five-questions-for-pro-life-advocates/), and Francis J. Beckwith, “Wise as Serpents: Christians, Politics, and Strategic Voting,” Christian Research Journal 27, 3 (2004): 52–53 (http://www.equip.org/articles/wise-as-serpents/). While it’s fair to say that Klusendorf argues for the general virtue and wisdom of straight-ticket voting as long as there is both a “pro-life party” and a “pro-choice party,” Beckwith does not carry it that far. He does suggest that in some cases “strategic voting” would lead the pro-life advocate to vote for a pro-choice candidate representing the “pro-life party” rather than a pro-life candidate on the ticket of the “pro-choice party.”
  2. Democrats for Life of America, “The Case for Pro-Life Democrats 2012,” PowerPoint presentation prepared for the Democratic Party Platform Drafting Committee, 23–25.
  3. Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) “challenged the assertions made by conservative opponents of the Affordable Care Act that it provided federal funding of abortion. In a recent press release, [DFLA executive director Kristen] Day noted that, in a case brought by [former Congressman Steve] Driehaus against the Susan B. Anthony List, Judge Timothy Black ruled that the ‘express language of the [act] does not provide for taxpayer funding of abortion. That is a fact, and it is clear on its face.’” (Michael Sean Winters, “Group Brings Pro-Life Voice to Democratic Party,” National Catholic Reporter, November 30, 2011, http://ncronline.org/news/politics/group-brings-pro-life-voice-democratic-party.)
  4. This is based in an understanding of the integral rights, responsibilities, and role of the citizen in a democracy. For an introduction to this topic, I recommend Charles F. Bahmueller, Michael Johnston, and Charles N. Quigley, Elements of Democracy: The Fundamental Principles, Concepts, Social Foundations, and Processes of Democracy (Calabasas, CA: Center for Civic Education, 2007).
  5. The issue was instead deferred to a pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling, with the preservation of the Union given priority over the preservation of slavery.
  6. In his article, p. 59, Klusendorf dismisses efforts of pro-life Democrats to work with pro-choice Democrats and pro-life Republicans to reduce abortions, suggesting that they consider this a satisfactory substitute for overturning Roe v. Wade. He is correct that reducing abortion is no substitute for legal reform, but pro-life Democrats never considered it to be so, and it is certainly a step in the right direction. The Pregnant Woman Support Act that they succeeded at making a part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is now being implemented in seventeen states with $250 million in grants to help alleviate the desperate circumstances that lead many pregnant women to think they have no option but abortion. Ultimately, even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, the most we will ever be able to accomplish is to reduce abortions. Outside of the Bible belt, most states will probably keep abortion legal, and wherever it is illegal, we can expect illegal abortions to return with a vengeance. Any insistence on legal reform that leads us to pooh-pooh efforts to save preborn lives within the current legal structure is putting principle ahead of persons and leads us away from a true, practical love of our neighbor.
  7. For example, in 2003 President Bush signed into law a ban on partial-birth abortion. In 2007 his two appointees to the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, helped create a majority that made it possible for the Court to reverse itself on partial-birth abortion and uphold the ban Bush signed.
  8. This is true not just of “Christians” but of “observant evangelicals” (i.e., evangelicals who attend more than one religious service a week). In 2008 43 percent of them voted for Obama. See John C. Green, “Much Hope, Modest Change for Democrats,” The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, August 11, 2010, http://www.pewforum.org/Politics-and-Elections/Much-Hope-Modest-Change-for-Democrats-Religion-in-the-2008-Presidential-Election.aspx. See also Marcia Pally, “Evangelicals: Voting Bloc or Mosaic?” Truthout, May 22, 2012, http://truth-out.org/news/item/9187-evangelicals-voting-bloc-or-mosaic#a12.
  9. See Lydia Saad, “Americans Still Split along ‘Pro-Choice,’ ‘Pro-Life’ Lines,” Gallup Politics, May 23, 2011, http://www.gallup.com/poll/147734/Americans-Split-Along-Pro-Choice-Pro-Life-Lines.aspx.
  10. Telephone interview with DFLA executive director Kristen Day, July 26, 2012.
  11. Ibid. Thirty percent indicated “few circumstances” while 14 percent indicated “no circumstances.”
  12. Poll Watch, The Week, February 10, 2012, 17.
  13. See Jeffrey M. Jones, “Record-High 40% of Americans Identify as Independents in ‘11,” Gallup Politics, January 9, 2012, http://www.gallup.com/poll/151943/record-high-americansidentify-independents.aspx.

 

Rebuttal to Elliot Miller

Should Christians knowingly support a political party dedicated to the proposition that an entire class of human beings can be set aside to be killed? Elliot Miller’s answer to that question is unsatisfactory.

First, an appeal to individual conscience does not relieve Christians of their duty to apply their biblical worldview in a way that limits the evil of abortion insofar as possible given current political realities. At the legislative level (House and Senate races), that usually means voting for the party that, though imperfect, will best protect unborn humans against one that sanctions killing them wholesale. A Republican majority in both houses gives us the best hope of legally protecting unborn humans because the vast majority of its members will support pro-life legislation—a point Miller does not dispute. Conversely, the overwhelming majority of Senate and House Democrats reject any restrictions on the abortion license (see below) and work tirelessly to expand it. In short, reducing voting to a supremely personal act does not fly when the party you are supporting sanctions the intentional killing of innocent human beings.

Second, Miller presents no formal argument for why pro-life voters should consider other important issues—war, the environment, and foreign aid—as morally equivalent to intentionally killing 1.2 million humans per year. His response is to say that not everyone agrees that abortion is a dominant issue. So? How does the fact that people disagree mean my distinction between contingent evils, like war, and absolute ones, like abortion, is wrong? Suppose a political party is great on health care and the economy, but will fight to keep it legal for men to beat their wives. That alone should disqualify that party from leadership. Moreover, where’s the evidence that biblical truth mandates Democrat policies on foreign aid and gun control? Indeed, a very good case can be made that foreign aid harms many impoverished countries more than it helps and that violent crime continued to drop after the so-called assault weapons ban expired in 2004. Nowhere does Miller argue empirically or biblically that a Christian worldview demands his take on these disputable matters. Meanwhile, the biblical view on intentionally shedding innocent blood is not disputable. It’s strictly forbidden!

Third, Miller is mistaken if he thinks we’re going to change the Democratic Party anytime soon. While he appeals to lay signups at Democrats for Life, the political players in that party continue promoting abortion wholesale. How many lives should we sacrifice waiting for the party to reform itself? Remember: 90 percent of this party’s current House membership voted against a Republican bill protecting unborn females from sex-selection abortion. It’s a party that supports forcing religious groups to fund insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. It’s a party that says doctors must perform or refer for abortion or go out of business. If Miller is worried about individual conscience, he should look no further than the party determined to destroy it.

True, the Republicans are far from perfect. But as Greg Koukl points out, given a choice between a first-class arsonist and a second-class fireman, you go with the second-class fireman—and demand he get better. —Scott Klusendorf

 

Elliot Miller replies: I didn’t argue that Christians should support the Democratic Party but only that some may support it selectively.

I did implicitly present a formal argument. To pacifists, war is an absolute (not a contingent) evil, as are nuclear weapons to many additional Christians.

Parties don’t pass legislation, congressmen do. Would you vote for a congressman in an anti-wife-beating party who fights to make wife beating legal? A yes answer would be based on strategy, not principle, and my article shows the weaknesses of this approach.

There is something self-fulfilling about Klusendorf’s prediction that the Democratic Party will not soon change. He cites the 90 percent of House Democrats who voted against the sex selection bill, but fails to mention the pro-life Democrats whose House reelection bids were sabotaged by the pro-life movement in 2010.

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