My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.
by Jim Wallis 10-23-2008
In 2004, several conservative Catholic bishops and a few megachurch pastors like issued their list of “non-negotiables,” which were intended to be a voter guide for their followers. All of them were relatively the same list of issues: abortion, , stem cell research, etc. None of them even included the word “poverty,” only one example of the missing issues which are found quite clearly in the Bible. All of them were also relatively the same as official Republican Party Web sites of “non-negotiables.” The political connections and commitments of the religious non-negotiable writers were quite clear.
I want to suggest a different approach this year and share my personal list of “faith priorities” that will guide me in making the imperfect choices that always confront us in any election year — and suggest that each of you come up with your own list of “faith” or “moral” priorities for this election year and take them into the voting booth with you.
After the last election, I wrote a book titled God’s Politics. I was criticized by some for presuming to speak for God, but that wasn’t the point. I was trying to explore what issues might be closest to the heart of God and how they may be quite different from what many strident religious voices were then saying. I was also saying that “God’s Politics” will often turn our partisan politics upside down, transcend our ideological categories of Left and Right, and challenge the core values and priorities of our political culture. I was also trying to say that there is certainly no easy jump from God’s politics to either the Republicans or Democrats. God is neither. In any election, we face imperfect choices, but our choices should reflect the things we believe God cares about if we are people of faith, and our own moral sensibilities if we are not people of faith. Therefore, people of faith, and all of us, should be “values voters” but vote all our values, not just a few that can be easily manipulated for the benefit of one party or another.
In 2008, the kingdom of God is not on the ballot in any of the 50 states as far as I can see. So we can’t vote for that this year. But there are important choices in this year’s election — very important choices — which will dramatically impact what many in the religious community and outside of it call “the common good,” and the outcome could be very important, perhaps even more so than in many recent electoral contests.
I am in no position to tell anyone what is “non-negotiable,” and neither is any bishop or megachurch pastor, but let me tell you the “faith priorities” and values I will be voting on this year:
My Personal ‘Faith Priorities’ for this Election
That is my list of personal “faith priorities” for the election year of 2008, but they are not “non-negotiables” for anyone else. It’s time for each of us to make up our own list in these next 12 days. Make your list and send this on to your friends and family members, inviting them to do the same thing.
It's so great to hear from you, and of COURSE you can't offend me by questioning my perspectives on this issue! I love a good debate and the questions you raised are REALLY important. However, they will not change my vote for 2 reasons:
1. I don't have a lot of faith in a legislative approach to outlawing abortion. What I mean by this is, we just had 8 years of an explicitly pro-life president, and while he did appoint some "pro-life" justices to the supreme court, I am not impressed by their stances on other "life" issues such as gun-control, the death penalty, the environment and poverty. While I do think that a country where abortion is illegal would be much closer to God's heart, I do not see this as a reality in the upcoming future. What I see as much more likely is the ability for pro-life and pro-choice individuals to work together to reduce the by reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and increasing the amount of support available for young, poor, and single mothers. While I'm no huge Clinton fan, it was under his administration that our country saw the largest drop in the number of abortions, a decline which has leveled off under Bush. My experience is that we live in a culture that is fairly hostile to motherhood and children, and I see more hope for changing those cultural attitudes in the near future than for making abortion illegal. The overturning of would simply return the decision to the states, which I don't think would solve the problem.
2. I don't agree with Obama on this issue, or on a handful of other issues. I am an unfortunate cynic who sees my vote in the light of "What can do the most good for our country right now?" While I don't think Obama is a perfect candidate, I think he would be GOOD for our country right now with his ability to inspire and bring energy and engagement to the political process.
Basically, while abortion is an important issue, it isn't a make-or-break issue for me. If I saw each candidate as basically similar, but differing on this one issue, I would certainly vote "pro-life". But at this point I am attempting to vote as "pro-life" as I can in a wholistic way, knowing that a perfect solution to the abortion issue probably will not be seen in my lifetime. Am I being morally dubious? Quite possibly. I don't vote for a candidate with that record blithely, but I do vote with confidence that (in my opinion and examination) he will attempt to create a "culture of life" that values people across the socio-economic spectrum. As much as his record as a "community organizer" was much mocked at the RNC, I think that makes him a GREAT candidate for president!
The link below is to an article by a pro-life Catholic law professor regarding his endorsement of Obama. It's brief and interesting.
Peace to you and yours! I'm sorry to send this exlusively political response... Clara is demanding breakfast, not unfairly. :)