Independent Christian Voice

Tuesday

Do Republicans have a higher degree of morality?

In a discussion on OKCTalk.com about what it means to be a Republican, one respondant suggested that he was a Republican because "republicans have a higher degree of morality than democrats." As a recovering Republican, I can understand and relate to this belief. For years, it was suggested in many Christian circles and even from some pulpits that the GOP represented Christian values and the Democrats represented "liberal" and amoral values. During the Clinton scandals, this belief was deepened and expanded rapidly. With the emergence of George W. Bush, a candidate very open about his Christian faith, Christians found their political savior. It solidified the Republican Party as the voice of the Christian faith. Non-Republicans, by default, opposed Christian values. Non-Republican Christians were the "liberal" or "not-as-committed" type of Christian. True Christians would only support the party of Christian values, the GOP. Simplified, the GOP represented moral values. Democrats represented the opposite. The GOP wanted to save the unborn and protect the traditional family. The Democrats wanted to kill as many babies as possible and ruin your family by allowing gays to take over marriage. It has become a "good" vs. "evil" debate — and, it's a very misguided debate. It's a dishonest debate. Many Christians have been duped by the GOP. Blind political affiliation to a party that gives little more than lip service and smoke-and-mirror policies defies the very faith Christians proclaim. Many non-Republican Christians are now boldly challenging this notion that Republicans are more moral and best represent Christian values. Jim Wallis tackles this issue in his latest book, God's Politics. In the discussion on OKCTalk.com, Didaskalos challenges the earlier member's statement that Republicans have a higher degree of morality than Democrats. Here's his post:
I find it very intriguing when some claim that Republicans are more moral than non-Republicans or have a better grasp on morality. All decisions and beliefs are based in a person’s view of morality. The idea of morality is an ambiguous idea. Fundamentally, it is the code by which a society or an individual determine “right” vs. “wrong”. One group is going to use a different “code” than another group to define what is "morally right" or "morally wrong". For instance, there is a certain “morality” that is accepted in the United States (most particularly that we have the "right" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness). Most Americans ascribe to the idea that this is “right” and “wrong” would be the antithesis. Yet, within America, there exist sub groups that have their own “moral code” (even within religious groups). A Unitarian is going to have a different “code of morality” than a Southern Baptist. Who is to say which is the right code? Or more particularly, who gets to determine the code all must follow to be "right"? I might believe that it is immoral for our country to invade a sovereign nation preemptively. Others will believe it is a moral imperative to address a “threat” before that “threat” can attack. What code is used to determine “right” vs. “wrong” or which position is “moral”. When people claim that the Republican Party has a higher degree of morality, what code are they using to make this claim. What defines that abortion is “wrong”? What declares that the 10 commandments should be displayed in public courtrooms? What code explains that prayer in schools should be public? Clearly, what many groups are referencing is that “morality” is defined by the Bible as the “code” and would better be described as “Christian morality” (more particularly a particular viewpoint of Christianity). Of course, it goes beyond this because scripture does not have a direct statement regarding displaying stone monuments of the 10 commandments or declaring that prayer should be public in a school setting. Defining these as more “moral” rather than a different moral position is extremely assumptive. This comes back to a debate that I am sure will rage on until Christ’s return – namely whether we were founded as a Christian nation. If we are not, defining morality in terms of “Christian Morality” is clearly an attempt to force others into a belief system by political means. As there is nothing in our Constitution that can show we were founded on the beliefs of Jesus Christ, it seems a bit of a reach. Those in support of this position are left to define the “intent” of the founders. Of course, even if the majority of the founders were “Christian” (which seems a very generic term considering the lives of many of the founders), that does not necessarily imply they were trying to establish a government based on “Christian Morality”. It would seem easier to support that they were trying to do quite the opposite. To leave the specifics of religion to the individual and ensure that religious freedom was the basis of our system. Many of us see wisdom in this design. If one is forced to accept that “Christian Morality” is a code defined by a sub-group in a larger society – a society which was founded on the idea of religious freedom – then defining one group as more “moral” using a sub-groups religious text in defense (even more particularly a sub groups interpretation of the text) seems in stark contrast to what our founders intended. This is not an attempt to support moral relativity. I would contend that there is “right” and “wrong”. I personally look to the bible to define what is “right” and “wrong” but does that mean I can force others to use the same guide in a government that supports freedom of religion as a fundamental right? I contend no. I believe abortion is “wrong”. Does this give me the “moral authority” to pass laws ensuring that abortions are not possible? If all I have to use is the Bible, I would contend no. The morality I gain from the bible is a personal morality. I can only apply the same moral code to those who agree with my beliefs regarding the bible. If I want to convince others (religious or not) about my “morality”, I need to do so outside of the text I have accepted as “the code”. I believe there is a conversation to be had regarding the “rightness” or “wrongness” of abortion outside of scripture. Perhaps by engaging that discussion, I could compel others who believe that abortion is not murder why I believe it is from a reasoned position rather than simply one of “belief”. I, for one, believe the vast majority of Americans hold that abortion is less “right” than “wrong” but are resistant to making it a prosecutable offense. As one who desires fewer abortions, I must look at what will help advance my desire. Clinton and Bush Jr. have very different viewpoints on the “moral” response to abortion. Many who support GWB believe that abortion should be illegal. ‘Clintonites’ believes that creating laws is ineffective at reducing the cause of abortion. Defining one as more “moral” is inaccurate as both are coming at the same issue from different perspectives and applying their “moral code” to the best way to address. As Clinton was more effective at reducing abortions in this country, one must ask if the desire is really to reduce abortions? If one looks at Clinton’s position as defending killing innocents then of course his position will appear less “moral”. Clearly, this is not Clinton’s position if one has ever cared to try and understand it. He views one of the biggest exacerbating factors behind those seeking abortions is financial strains. His belief that reducing financial strains and thereby reducing the impetus behind seeking the abortion is a “moral approach”. Whether one believes this is really the “right” approach is not as important, in my mind, as determining what the end goal for both groups is and the dialogue to find common ground. (as a disclaimer – I did not vote for Clinton either time). Republicans will lay claim to many personal moral issues (sexual preference issues, abortion, drug use, public profession of religious beliefs, etc) but these represent a particular viewpoint of morality. Others who hold that poverty, fair wages, civil rights, just war, access to healthcare, affordable housing, social safety nets are all “moral issues” are not less moral – they simply have a different set of “moral priorities”. I make my political decisions based on my "morality" but have a very different perspective on what my moral teacher (Jesus Christ) held as the larger priorities. It is unfortunate that many Republicans claim to have a corner on “morality” or even worse claim to be “more moral”. This might be true when compared against a particular interpretation and application of “Christian Morality” but cannot be defined as the only “moral” position. Those focused on "moral issues" might find the following site interesting - Moral Politics Test.

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