So I shared a link on my Facebook timeline that caused a stir of controversy about why Christians like me have come to believe that most conservative values are fundamentally anti-Christian. So I made the below table to illustrate what I think a Christian value should be on various issues, for comparison against liberal vs. conservative.
I get that this is a biased opinion, but I really believe that this marriage between Christianity and the political right has done tremendous harm to the Christian faith, and this table is my way of hashing that out a bit.
(P.S. Sorry for the weird table formatting, I couldn’t figure out how to top align the table cells in WordPress!)
|Abortion||A woman has the right to decide what happens with her body. A fetus is not a human life, so it does not have separate individual rights. The government should provide taxpayer funded abortions for women who cannot afford them. The decision to have an abortion is a personal choice of a woman regarding her own body and the government must protect this right. Women have the right to affordable, safe and legal abortions, including partial birth abortion.||Human life begins at conception. Abortion is the murder of a human being. An unborn baby, as a living human being, has separate rights from those of the mother. Oppose taxpayer-funded abortion. Taxpayer dollars should not be used for the government to provide abortions. Support legislation to prohibit partial birth abortions, called the “Partial Birth Abortion* Ban”||The Bible doesn’t have much to say about abortion, although there are passages that could be interpreted to support both sides of this. Ultimately for me, the reason this issue falls short of the Christian ideal is that in this policy, there is no advocacy and support for the woman who chooses not to have an abortion, or the woman who wants access to affordable birth control so she doesn’t get pregnant in the first place.|
|Affirmative Action||Due to prevalent racism in the past, minorities were deprived of the same education and employment opportunities as whites. The government must work to make up for that. America is still a racist society, therefore a federal affirmative action law is necessary. Due to unequal opportunity, minorities still lag behind whites in all statistical measurements of success.||Individuals should be admitted to schools and hired for jobs based on their ability. It is unfair to use race as a factor in the selection process. Reverse-discrimination is not a solution for racism. Some individuals in society are racist, but American society as a whole is not. Preferential treatment of certain races through affirmative action is wrong.||This conservative stance is characterized to favor the privileged and perpetuate the subjugation of people of color in America. Jesus is our model as Christians, and never in the gospels did he support the status quo of “the most qualified get the job”. In fact he distinctly ministered to and discipled those who were not privileged. The message of the Gospel was for all people, but Jesus started with the ones who were least likely to “get the job”, and he empowered them to carry out the Great Commission.|
|Death/penalty||We should abolish the death penalty. The death penalty is inhumane and is ‘cruel and unusual’ punishment. It does not prevent crime. Imprisonment is the appropriate punishment. Every execution risks killing an innocent person.||The death penalty is a punishment that fits the crime; it is neither ‘cruel’ nor ‘unusual’. Executing a murderer is the appropriate punishment for taking an innocent life.||One of the central tenets of the Christian faith is the emphasis on God’s grace. There is no grace in the death penalty, no opportunity for repentance. It is “an eye for an eye”. Jesus repudiated this principle in Matthew 5:38-42. In my opinion, it makes sense as a Christian to take the same posture of non-violence in your political values.|
|Economy||Favor a market system in which government regulates the economy.
We need government to protect us against big businesses. Unlike the private sector, the government is motivated by public interest. We need government regulation to level the playing field.
|The free market system, competitive capitalism, and private enterprise afford the widest opportunity and the highest standard of living for all. Free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs and higher standards of living than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.||I’ll be honest – I can’t speak to this as I don’t know enough about economic policies to be able to apply my Christian beliefs to them.|
|The Environment||Liberals sometimes believe that conservatives don’t care as much about protecting the environment.
Liberals will argue that Industrial growth can harm the environment. They argue global warming is caused by an increased production of carbon dioxide. The U.S. is a major contributor to global warming because it produces 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide. The U.S. should enact laws to significantly reduce that amount and if it reduces some economic growth then so be it!
|Conservatives want clean water, clean air and a clean planet, just like everyone else. However, extreme environmental policies destroy jobs and damage the economy.
Changes in global temperatures are natural over long periods of time. So far, science has not shown that humans can affect permanent change to the earth’s temperature.
|I’m going to take a weird approach on this one. Environmental protection should NOT be a partisan issue, but it is. In my opinion, Christians who take Genesis literally have a lower view of scripture than those who don’t, because they are trying to force the text to behave in a way it was never written to behave. This is why we now have conservative Christians who resist the idea of global warming because it challenges their beliefs about the historicity of the Bible. Policies that would best promote environmental health are sacrificed in the effort to hold tight to a model of Biblical literalism.|
|Gun/control||The Second Amendment gives no individual the right to own a gun, but allows the state to keep a militia (National Guard/Armed Forces). Guns kill people. Guns kill children.||The Second Amendment gives the individual the right to keep and bear arms. Gun control laws do not thwart criminals. You have a right to defend yourself against criminals. More guns mean less crime.||I think Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” passages apply here too. Jesus’ teachings promote pacifism; indeed the entire prophecy of the Messiah encapsulates that: Jesus came with no intent to do violence, but instead to lay down his life. In a time of unprecedented gun violence in America, Christians should be demonstrating their high value for peace, not the right to own instruments of death.|
|Healthcare||Support universal government-supervised health care. There are millions of Americans who can’t afford health insurance. They are being deprived of a basic right to healthcare.||Free healthcare provided by the government (socialized medicine) means that everyone will get the same poor-quality healthcare. The rich will continue to pay for superior healthcare, while all others will receive poor-quality free healthcare from the government. Health care should remain privatized.||In reading the description of liberal vs. conservative, I can’t help but think that I’d rather start with poor quality healthcare that everyone can afford rather than good quality health care that is not financially feasible for a good portion of the population. Jesus emphasized caring for the poor a great deal in the Gospels, so it is something Christians should care about, and so far the conservative approach to healthcare hasn’t been able to deliver on that.|
|Immigration||Support legal immigration and increasing the number of legal immigrants permitted to enter the U.S. each year. Support blanket amnesty for current illegal immigrants.
Believe that regardless of how they came to the U.S., illegal immigrants deserve:
– U.S. government financial aid for college tuition.
– visas for spouse/children to come to the U.S. Families shouldn’t be separated.
Illegal immigrants do the jobs that Americans do not want to do.
|Support legal immigration at current numbers, but do not support illegal immigration. Government should enforce immigration laws. Oppose President Bush’s amnesty plan for illegal immigrants. Those who break the law by entering the U.S. illegally should not have the same rights as those who obey the law by entering legally.
If there were a decrease in cheap, illegal immigrant labor, employers would have to substitute higher-priced domestic employees, legal immigrants, or perhaps increase mechanization.
|This is the same issue for me as some of the others, like affirmative action and healthcare. It seems distinctly anti-Christian to me to deny opportunity for a better life to those who would seek it out in the U.S., especially those who are fleeing danger. All throughout the Old Testament there are commands to “welcome the stranger”, and those who are kind and welcoming to foreigners are praised throughout scripture.|
|Religion||Support the separation of church and state. The Bill of Rights implies a separation of church and state. Religious expression has no place in government. The two should be completely separate. All reference to God in public and government spaces should be removed (eg., the Ten Commandments should not be displayed in Federal buildings). Religious expression has no place in government.||The phrase “separation of church and state” is not in the Constitution. The First Amendment to the Constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” This prevents the government from establishing a national church. However, it does not prevent God from being acknowledged in schools and government buildings.
Oppose the removal of symbols of Christian heritage from public and government spaces. Government should not interfere with religion and religious freedom.
|I really feel like if Jesus wanted Christian values to be expressed and enforced through the law and the government, he would have come as the Messiah everyone was expecting, and he would have upended Rome and established Christianity through human power structures. But he didn’t. He did the opposite! Jesus said “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” I don’t think Jesus ever wanted Christians to use human power structures to promote the Christian religion, because that was never how he lived his own life. Also, it feels distinctly unloving to me to demand that my religion get special treatment in the government and the schools, when there are many, many Americans who don’t hold my religious values.|
|Same-Sex/ Marriage||Marriage should be legal for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples to ensure equal rights for all.
All individuals, regardless of their sex, have the right to marry.
Believe that prohibiting same-sex citizens from marrying denies them of their civil rights.
|Marriage is between one man and one woman.
Opinions differ on support for the creation of a constitutional amendment establishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Believe that requiring citizens to sanction same-sex relationships violates moral and religious beliefs of millions of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others who believe marriage is the union of a man and a woman.
|My observations here are the same as the one for the Religion section, with the added caveat that I don’t think it should create cognitive dissonance at all to be politically pro-gay marriage and theologically opposed to it (consequently, I actually feel the same way about abortion).|
|Welfare||Support welfare. We need welfare to provide for the poor. Conservatives oppose welfare because they are not compassionate toward the poor. We have welfare to bring fairness to American economic life. Without welfare, life below the poverty line would be intolerable.||Oppose long-term welfare. We need to provide opportunities to make it possible for poor and low-income workers to become self-reliant. It is far more compassionate and effective to encourage a person to become self-reliant, rather than keeping them dependent on the government for money.||For me this lines up nicely with my comments on healthcare. The “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality that encapsulates conservative views on taxes seems to favor the middle- and upper-class and not the needy. Considering Jesus spent his entire ministry caring for and teaching those on the fringes of society, I think we as Christians should definitely prioritize that too. The compassionate approach is to understand that often times people need a leg up before they can get a leg out.|
|War on Terror/Terrorism||Global warming, not terrorism, poses the greatest threat to the U.S., according to Democrats in Congress. Terrorism is a result of arrogant U.S. foreign policy. Good diplomacy is the best way to deal with terrorism. Relying on military force to defeat terrorism creates hatred that leads to more terrorism. Captured terrorists should be handled by law enforcement and tried in civilian courts.||Terrorism poses one of the greatest threats to the U.S. The world toward which the militant Islamists strive cannot peacefully co-exist with the Western world. In the last decade, militant Islamists have repeatedly attacked Americans and American interests here and abroad. Terrorists must be stopped and destroyed. The use of intelligence-gathering and military force are the best ways to defeat terrorism around the world. Captured terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants and tried in military courts.||In a way this one links up with the Christian ideal of pacifism. But it is tricky because I also see where advocates of “just war” are coming from, in that Christians are called to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. However, I also think that conservative Christians have blown the terrorist threat way out of proportion and in doing so have alienated those of the Islamic religion. Perhaps a moderate approach here is most in line with Christian values?|