Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A casualty of faith?

Who is America voting for today, pray? Or, demographically speaking, who is backing Bush or Kerry?

CNN.com reports that "Exit poll interviews indicate Kerry doing better among women, blacks and younger voters. Bush does better among whites, military veterans and voters who go to church weekly."

There you have it, the American voters in a nutshell - at least those that have been targeted by media and political analysts as people who are likely to vote for Bush or Kerry. (*Ralph Nader has officially conceded.)

I'm particularly interested in who's voting for who with regard to the Christian camp. Because they are seen as conservative and evangelical, it is seen that the majority of them will vote for Bush.

It's also easy to label them as wholly white, rabid supporters of morality - one aspect of which Bush is favored upon, since he embraces the Christian faith and is not afraid to show it, nor, as we have seen these past few years, does he hide it in his presidency. If during the early years he was a bit soft on his approaches to foreign policy, a May 2003 article at ChristianityToday.com was written thus:

In response to 9/11, Bush's vision became coherent and deeply linked to his Christian convictions. He declared during the Washington National Cathedral's 9/11 memorial service, "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil." Bush no longer sounded like a balance-of-power realist, but like an abolitionist intent on ridding the world of vice. The service ended with a powerful rendition of the abolitionist war song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

A few days later Bush told the nation that terrorists were trying to remake the world so that they could impose their beliefs on others. "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." Bush said God is not neutral in this conflict between "freedom and fear, justice and cruelty." (click here for whole article; it's a good read)

The question now is, is it eminently fair for Christians to be thought of as a bloc voting for Bush?

According to Natalie, an Anthropology major at Wheaton College in Illinois, it's not. And yes, Wheaton is a known conservative Christian college.

She writes, "It becomes frustrating when, on one hand, we are perceived negatively by other evangelicals when we don't necessarily choose, for example, to support Bush. On the other hand, non-evangelicals automatically assume that, because we are religiously conservative, we will be so politically, too."

Natalie also brings to light the frustrations of many Christians who are encouraged to vote on the basis of single-issue voting. She admits that "she differs from conservatives regarding immigration, social programs, gun control, and foreign policy."

In her October 25 post, she again brings up the issue of single-issue voting. "How did evangelicals get to the point where abortion and gay marriage are the only issues to consider when it comes to politics? I've been repeating this all along, but what about other issues that should concern Christians like economic injustice, human rights, feeding the hungry, the list goes on..."

Faith-based. Christian-based. That is what many critics have labeled as Bush's doctrine. And there's nothing wrong with that, so long as one doesn't presume that God is always on your side. Is this Bush's casualty, then?

In America today, the word 'evangelical' is left with a bitter taste in one's mouth. But I take heart in students like Natalie, who continue to push their minds and answer difficult questions, those who aren't afraid to trust, believe - and be different.