It’s Not Payback Time

Since the election, the talking heads have been buzzing with speculation on what the Christian vote for Bush means and what we Christians believe we can now expect for our efforts. What are our demands? they ask. Well, as usual, they've got it backwards. Evangelicals and conservative Catholics who turned out in great numbers and voted their moral values were not doing so in order to "get something" from the administration. Most were doing it because they've agreed with Bush for years and identify with who he is. I discovered his keen interest in faith-based solutions when he was governor of Texas and gave us permission to open the first faith-based prison. He even dedicated it, singing "Amazing Grace" with the inmates. Last Christmas, he and Mrs. Bush delivered Angel Tree gifts with us to kids in Alexandria, Virginia. The first week he was in office Bill Bennett and I went to the White House, urging him to do something about slavery in Sudan. He acted swiftly and decisively. We talked to him about sexual trafficking, which the Clinton administration had refused to touch. He acted, and then he even addressed the United Nations on the subject. He gave a stirring speech to the American-Jewish Congress, strangely ignored by the press, affirming that human rights are God-given. And, at the urging of Franklin Graham and others, he took the lead in dealing with the AIDS epidemic in Africa. We also have a consistent record from this president on appointing strict constructionist judges. And abortion: Jim Dobson and I were with him when he signed the partial-birth abortion ban. He came out strongly and clearly for marriage being an institution between one man and one woman, even when some on the White House staff counseled him not to. The reason evangelicals and conservative Catholics voted for Bush, I believe, is because they know he shares many the values of middle America. Thomas Friedman bemoaned in the New York TimesThursday morning when he said, "I woke up and realized that these people want a different kind of America." Well, he's right. We want an America that respects moral truth and moral values, and we reject the social chaos that results from postmodern relativism. But I am tired of reading articles about evangelicals voting for Bush because they want to "get something" from him, and I disassociate myself from anyone who says, "Now we voted for you, it's payback time. Give us our due." That's what special interest groups do, and we're not a special interest group. We vote our conscience and what we believe is in the best general interest: That's called common grace. We are looking for the godliest leader we can find, who also is able -- as Jethro advised Moses. I hope evangelicals will not allow the press to caricature us. They would love to paint us as special pleaders who are in Bush's pocket, or Bush is in our pocket. Then they can stereotype us as theocrats and bash us mercilessly, as the New York Times did in several columns this week. Remember, our allegiance is to the kingdom of God. The Church is not another special interest group beholden to anyone's political agenda. To act that way demeans the Church and the Lord of the Church. We should take advantage of this time when all the attention is on us -- not to be playing politics, but to use it as a window of opportunity to stand for and promote moral truth and selflessly serve society, living out the Gospel in every area of life. The payback we want is not man's power, but God's favor. For further reading and information: Read President Bush's reelection acceptance speech. "Bush Speaks to the United Nations General Assembly," White House Office of the Press Secretary, 21 September 2004. Alan Cooperman and Thomas B. Edsall, "Evangelicals say they led the charge for GOP," MSNBC, 7 November 2004. Alison Bethel and Joel Kurth, "Christian bloc demands say on social policy," Detroit News, 7 November 2004. Jeffrey Weiss, "Political spectrum spreads to extremes over cultural issues," Dallas Morning News, 6 November 2004. Rod Dreher, "Cultural conservatives actually represent the norm," Dallas Morning News, 6 November 2004. Alan Elsner, "Christians See Court Appointments as Top Bush Aim," Reuters, 5 November 2004. Thomas L. Friedman, "Two Nations Under God," New York Times, 4 November 2004. (Free registration required.) "The Evangelical Vote and the Election," NPR, 6 November 2004. David Klinghoffer, "What We Bush Voters Share: In God We Trust," Los Angeles Times, 8 November 2004. Demian Bulwa, "A church's role in GOP win," San Francisco Chronicle, 8 November 2004. Alan J. Borsuk and Nahal Toosi, "Focus on values drove many Bush voters, polls find," Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, 3 November 2004. DeWayne Wickham, "Bush faces keen pressure to reward faithful," USA Today, 7 November 2004. Allison Kennedy, "Moral support," Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, 8 November 2004. Jim Davenport, "Bush picks up black voters in S.C.," Charlotte Observer, 8 November 2004. Jim Remsen, "Social issues aside, evangelicals described as a diverse group," Myrtle Beach Online, 8 November 2004. BreakPoint Commentary No. 040106, "At the Foot of the Cross: A Story You Haven't Heard." BreakPoint Commentary No. 031103, "Mankind Is Our Business: Christians and Human Rights." BreakPoint Commentary No. 041104, "Don't Stop Now: 'Value Voters' and the Future." BreakPoint Commentary No. 041103, "Now That We've Voted: Elections and the Kingdom of God." Charles Colson with Anne Morse, "Reclaiming Occupied Territory," Christianity Today, August 2004. (Reprinted at BreakPoint Online.) Call 1-877-322-5527 to request the BreakPoint CD "Setting Your Moral Compass," in which BreakPoint addresses the key moral issues of our day (suggested donation $20). Lawrence F. Kaplan, "Polls Apart," New Republic, 8 November 2004.


Chuck Colson


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