I’m part of a group, convened by Jim Wallis, Brian McLaren, and Tony Campolo called the Red Letter Christians (No, I’m not a fan of the name, but it’s meant to imply that the words of Jesus are the beginnings of our political engagement, not some obscure Levitical text regarding homosexuality). The group is a direct challenge to the Arlington Group, a collection of far-right Christians who have worked long and hard to be the voice of Christianity in American politics.
Our message, simply put, is that Christian “values” extend far beyond abortion and gay marriage. In fact, there is a direct correlation between abotion and poverty. Sure, rich, white, suburban girls get abortions, but the vast majority of abortions are among poor, under-educated, ethnic minorities (and poor whites). The more educated and wealthy a woman is, the less likely she is to have an abortion. So abortion is the skin lesion on our society, but poverty is the cancer. And I’m not all that interested in putting band aids on cancer.
Now, I can jibe with my friends (like Rudy Carrasco and Len Sweet) who advocate free market economy solutions to poverty, and I can also agree with my friends (like Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren) who encourage our society to protect the “least of these” through government programs. In fact, I am quite convinced that both are needed, for capitalism, unchecked by the Puritanism that Max Weber found in America, escalates into pure greed.
For this reason, among many others, I am not a Republican or a Democrat. I am fiercely independent, and I honestly believe that political independence is the only theologically justifiable stance for a Christian.
At the press conference at which we launched the Red Letter Christians, one reporter asked how many of us are Republicans, his implication being that we’re just a bunch of leftist Christians. I went to the podium and announced that I am voting for at least three Republicans in November. Since it’s already on the public record, I thought I’d post here the candidtates for whom I intend to vote, admitting that this is subject to change between now and the election.
State Legislature: Ron Erhardt (R)
State Senate: Geoff Michel (R)
U.S. House of Representatives: Jim Ramstad (R)
U.S. Senate: Amy Klobuchar (D)
Minnesota Governor: Tim Pawlenty (R)
Now, some context. I’m not a huge fan of Pawlenty, but I think that Mike Hatch is probably a sociopath; he’s at least a very mean person. Now, it’s true that I’ve voted for a sociopath before (Jesse V.), and that last time I voted for the independent candidate (Tim Penny), and that I’d just as soon vote Peter Huchinson (I), but Hutchinson is so far behind that he can’t win, and I’m not voting for Pawlenty as much as I am against Hatch. The same goes in the Senate, where I’m voting against Mark Kennedy (R) as much as I am for Klobuchar. And the rest of the Republicans for whom I’m voting are moderate, “Gang of 14” types who regularly work across the aisle. They not only represent me well, all three have been responsive in the past when I’ve asked them to reconsider a vote of theirs.
So, let the record show that I, a member of the Red Letter Christians, am no lefty.