Can a Christian Be a Democrat?

Can a Christian Be a Democrat? July 15, 2013

Every so often I do something that gets press coverage beyond the Oklahoma border.

If this coverage includes the fact that I am (a) a Democrat, and (b) pro life, I know that several commenters on whatever news story or blog my name appears are going to chime in with the opinion that no one can be both (a) a Democrat and, (b) pro life, and that I must be phony, bogus, a Judas goat and a liar. These verbal brickbats come from both sides of the political divide.

It seems that my dual citizenship in both the Democrat and pro life political kingdoms makes me something of a universal hate object.

When it was just the abortion issue, this seemed a bit over the top. After all, the Republican party is not exactly true to the Gospels, either. Religious leaders and their followers in both the Democratic and Republican camps torture the Gospels to make the teachings of Christ conform to their political party. I see it all the time.

However, it’s not just abortion any longer. It seems some days as if the National (as opposed to the local) Democratic Party has declared total, all-out war, not just on certain aspects of basic Christian morality, but on the First Amendment and Christianity itself.

I stopped attending Democratic Party functions in Oklahoma a number of years back simply because it was such an unpleasant experience. I mean, who wants to go spend an evening with people who lie about you and slander you and call you names that you can’t even repeat in polite company? Why would I want to be around folks who attack my faith and tell me repeatedly in every way they can, that they want me to go away?

The question arises, if I’m not a phony about my religious beliefs and my positions on issues concerning the sanctity of human life and the family, then, why am I Democrat? Is it stubbornness, or is it stupidity?

In truth, I am stubborn.

Very.

And I can be stupid.

Very.

But in this instance of party affiliation it’s more complicated — or maybe more simple — than that.

The things I described above broke my heart and made me so miserable that I did consider changing political parties. I wanted to get away from the political party that treated me like dirt. I just plain wanted out.

I have a habit of asking God what I should do before I act on a decision this big. Sometimes I get an answer, other times, I don’t. This time I got an answer, and a strong one. I asked if I should change parties, and the answer was …

No.

I waited a few weeks then asked again. This time, the answer was …

NO.

A few months later, I asked one last time, and the answer was no, with an explanation that I won’t share here.

After that, I decided to stop badgering God and accept His will. I didn’t understand it. But I knew that I could not change parties.

And I continued to get kicked around by my fellow Democrats. And it continued to hurt me. And I wondered why God would want me to keep on taking this garbage.

And God used me in the next few years to do things for issues such as pro life that I could not have done if I hadn’t been a Democrat.

That D after my name was like a key in a lock that turns it over, click, and opens the door. There was one time in particular where I was like a chess piece that He had moved into place and then left there until He needed me. We passed one monumental pro life bill that stopped horrible carnage only because I was a Democrat. If I had been sitting on the other side of the chamber, that bill would have died. There was a reason why I couldn’t change parties, and, in time, I saw it played out.

The short answer to the question Can a Christian be a Democrat is, yes. In fact, I would say that He needs more Christians to be Democrats, and He needs them now more than ever before.

We are now in a post Christian era in which Christians and Christian values are under attack from almost every quarter, including the political. This is, to paraphrase that great agnostic Thomas Paine, not the time for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. These really are the times that try men’s souls.

Christians need to retreat to a life of prayer, scripture and the sacraments to build their spiritual strength. We need to find our deepest friendships with one another, where we can be accepted and loved for our faith. Then, we need to join the battle by engaging the world in a constructive, consistent and unwavering manner.

There is no place where we should not go with our faith, including, absolutely, the Democratic Party.

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61 responses to “Can a Christian Be a Democrat?”

  1. I appreciate the fact that people can be pro-life and Democrat at the same time (and we need those people to effect change in a pro-life direction within that party). I’m a registered independent because neither party lives up to Christian standards. We don’t all have to be either Democratic or Republican, you know. In fact, I think that’s why we see so much polarization in this country, because people think there area only two parties to belong to and no opportunity for independent thinking.

  2. “We are now in a post Christian era in which Christians and Christian values are under attack from almost every quarter, including the political.”

    And the people doing the attacking are not necessarily bad people. There are legitimate reasons for standing up to the Christian Right.

    • Why does it sound like Americanism might actually be a good heresy? Is it because we have separation of Church and State and the pope who named that heresy probably wanted the Church to have more say in how Americans should live their lives?

      • That is an ignorant remark. You are grossly wrong on Pope Leo XIII, on what he said, and on why he said it. Why am I not in the least surprised?

        • “The Americanist heresy is characterized as an insistence upon individual initiative which the Vatican judged to be incompatible with what was considered to be a fundamental principle of Catholicism: obedience to authority.” – Wikipedia

          I’ll take individual initiative over having the Pope tell me how to live my life.

      • From a Catholic perspective, no heresy is ever ‘good’. And the spiritual power should obviously have the right to make moral pronouncements on how prince and pauper live their lives. Morality does not stop its message at the Pillars of Hercules.

        • What I mean by a good heresy is something that is actually a good thing but which is identified as a heresy by the Church. If you read about the Americanist heresy, you can see what makes this such a great country in which to live and why the Pope would have a problem with our freespiritness.

      • Theodore, Wikipedia is excellent in general. The only times you have to be suspicious is over a controversial issue. If it’s not controversial, Wikipedia beats out all encyclopeidas.

  3. This surprises me and leaves me quiet (Ha!). I’ve read your articles for months now, learning and liking you without ever checking what party you were with. So darn, you’ve messed up my box. This is where the world wide web is good for me: making me think and consider and stretch outside my box. Thank you. (And I still like you and will continue reading!)

    • Well said. Tragically, as I have just been reminded, for many people it is just the opposite: a place to pick and shop for the views closest to yours.

  4. I think it was mentioned to supporters of Gary Johnson that Catholics are Libertarian and don’t realize it… I’m just a little confused as to how Catholicism and Lobertarianism are compatible, but some points are made like religious freedom and smaller government infraction on moral issues and religious institutions.

  5. Neither major political party matches well with Catholicism in practice. But at least the Republican party’s national platform (is not inherently contradictory to Catholic teaching, whereas the Democrat party’s national platform—the party creed, as it were—contains tenets that are explicitly contradictory to Church teaching teaching. The American party system does allow individual politicians greater freedom to stray from the party line on individual issues, that is true. Nevertheless, I can see no way one can be a practicing Catholic, adhering to Church teaching, and remain in the Democrat party: to remain would compel the individual to be untrue either to the faith or the party. On the other hand, it appears that adhering to the faith more easily fits within the Republican platform, at least theoretically.

    • Someone can belong to a political party and not agree with everything the party represents.

      Some people say republicans are not pro-life because they favor capital punishment. It could be said that they aren’t pro-life after the baby is born because they are in favor of cutting welfare benefits which would affect children having enough to eat.

      Republicans don’t believe everyone should have equal access to health care. To me, that isn’t pro-life.

      It goes both ways with democrats and republicans.

      Being a “cafeteria” democrat or republican is not the same thing as being a cafeteria Catholic. I have never voted for anyone that I agreed with 100% of their views.

      • May I ask where Republicans have said they are going to cut off child support welfare after a child is born? May I ask where Republicans have said that everyone shouldn’t have equal access to health care? You should either stop mouthing the opposition talking points or use your language more precisely.

          • First off that’s not a Republican statement. Second, no where does it say they were going to cut off welfare. It says they were to reduce it. How much is enough is a matter of judgement. The bottom line is that no one will go without food and no one will go without a roof over their heads. The more you give, the more landlords charge. The price rises to the money available.

        • Actions speak louder than words. It may not be explicitly stated in the party platform, but look at what they passed in Texas and other places they have power. How is that not cutting welfare and decreasing access to health care?

              • That’s a temporary condition as they get through the system. Or they so choose to be homeless. Every state in the country has a welfare system.

                • There are holes in every safety net. A common one in Oregon is literacy- if you’re too mentally ill or not educated well enough to navigate the 20 page application for food stamps, well, no welfare for you, for instance. Section 8 in my state also includes filing fees- if you are homeless and out of money, exactly how are you supposed to come up with a filing fee?

            • Many poor people are not eligible for medicaid and go without health care. The working poor often go without healthcare. Emergency departments have to treat emergencies. They can diagnose cancer but they can’t treat the cancer. If you are uninsured you have to prove to the cancer treatment center that you can pay for the treatment or they send you on your way.

              I don’t know where you live but the homeless shelters here often fill up which means the people have no shelter.

              • People in shelters are temporary as they work their way through the welfare system. The only legitament issue you raise are the working poor who cannot get healthcare. I am sympathetic to that, so if we want to cut other aspects of government I think we could pay for them, given the right insurance system. Those poor without medical insurance is about 10-15 million. They do get emergency care. So tell me how Obama addressed the issue when he’s got an individual mandate they have to pay and which they can’t afford? Yes we need a revision to the system, but not Obama’s revision.

                • “So tell me how Obama addressed the issue when he’s got an individual mandate they have to pay and which they can’t afford?”

                  Congress addressed it by expanding Medicaid eligibility for the poorest, and created generous subsidies so that the not-so-poor would be helped to buy insurance.

                  Of course, several Republican governors refused Medicaid expansion, so people in their states between 100-133% of the poverty level will be left without Medicaid or subsidies meant for their income level.

                  • The whole thing is financially untenable as you can see with the delays. I don’t believe Obamacare is ever going to happen. If raising taxes to pay for Obamacare is going to push jobs out of the state, i don’t blame any Gov for refusing.

                    • The delays aren’t about finances but implementation for businesses.

                      Raising taxes couldn’t push jobs out of the state if all the states are doing it. Also, the Medicaid expansion is ‘free’ at first (funded by the federal government), then funded 90% by the feds. Not a lot of local tax needed there. And states *do* have taxes, to pay for things; apparently health care for their poorest people is not one of those things to Christian Republican governors.

      • Where in the republican national party platform does it say that the party supports the death penalty? Where in the Republican party platform does it state explicitly that everyone should not have equal access to health care?

        Now, go read the Democrat party national platform, and you *will* see explicit support for Roe v. Wade and other things that *explicitly* contradict church teaching.

        Also, we are not talking about *voting*, we are talking about party membership. I am *not* a Republican, though my votes may lean that way. Based on the party platform—the official stand of the party at the national level—I *could join the party in good conscience, even if the many candidates are imperfect. However, I could *never* register as a Democrat because the party, by its own definition, is explicitly against the Church on a number of issues. I may, however, vote for some Democrat candidates if I feel they as individuals are the best choice.

        So what I am saying here and in my original comment is that, because of the Democrat party’s own decision to make certain positions planks of their national platform, it is not possible for a Catholic to “be” a Democrat…the party has left them.

  6. I don’t think the criteria for parties are whether they are true to the Godspel or not. First of all no human being is true to the Godspel or we wouldn’t sin. But a political party has an even more difficult hurdle in that it has to synthesize the views of vast numbers of diverse people, including various different religions. The real criteria for me is whether a political party is sympathetic or hostile to religion in general. I do believe the Republican Party is more sympathetic to religion than the Democratic party. Sure the Republican party bumbles their way through issues, but within its core leadership there is an awareness that they must respond to religious sensitivities or they are going to get kicked out the door. It would be unfair for me to say that the Democratic Party as a whole is anti religious. But there is no question that a large part of the Democratic Party is hostile to religion, and as a party they do not feel the need to respond to religious sensitivities. That has become most evident with President Obama. And I mean really, they boo’d God at their convention. That means something.

    • When you say the Republican Party is more sympathetic to religion, I think you need to define which religion. Their stance against gay marriage is certainly not sympathetic to the religions and individual churches that have been accepting and performing gay marriages for decades. They are only sympathetic to their own narrowly defined “true” version of Christianity.

      • Sorry to burst your bubble, but gay marriage is antithetical to the TRUE version of Christianity, the version that has not been modified in recent decades as you claim but for several millenium.

        • So, any Christian church that performs gay weddings is not a “true” Christian church. I think those churches would strongly disagree with you!

          And it begs the question: who gets to decide which churches are “true” Christian? You? The pope? Is there a set of guidelines on the Internet somewhere? Is your own church the only “true” one and everyone else is wrong?

          If you are going to argue that the Republican Party is sympathetic to religion you need to ensure that they are sympathetic and tolerant to ALL religions, not just yours.

          • Any Christian church that performs a gay wedding is certainly suspect. Actually it’s laughable. As to the republican Party, I don’t think I ever used the word tolerant. All I said was that it’s more sympathetic to religion. That doesn’t mean they carry out the wishes of religions or any particular religion. They are sensitive to the issues. A political party has to synthesize the views of large swaths of people. Unless the country was to be 90% Catholic or even 90% devout Christian it cannot be in synch with all religious views. Sympathetic means that at worst it will listen and not enact policy that harms the free exercise of religion.

  7. It seems some days as if the National (as opposed to the local) Democratic Party has declared total, all-out war, not just on certain aspects of basic Christian morality, but on the First Amendment and Christianity itself.

    Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

    It’s no secret that some Christians cry foul when liberals and/or Democrats support marriage equality, women’s health choices, public healthcare, non-preferential treatment of businesses, etc etc. But not one of those things is based on any desire to attack Christianity (remember: most liberals and Democrats are Christians too), nor are any of them an attack on the First Amendment.

    • If they aren’t based on a desire to attack Christianity, then why force Christians to do them?

      After all, if liberals really wanted to provide contraception for free, Planned Parenthood could just buy out Trojan and Women’s Capital Corporation and run those businesses at a loss for free.

  8. There are two thing I find very surprising in this post. The first is that you found a dichotomy between being a Christian and a democrat. As a lifelong democrat quickly approaching 50, I have found the exact opposite to be true. I’ll admit I don’t know the religion of many of the democrats I’ve worked with, but the vast majority of those whoes religion I know are Christians, and many of those I don’t know could easily be Christian, and I have only very rarely heard anyone say anything that is even remotely anti-Christian. I am sorry that you have expirianced such hate in the Democratic Party, and I hope you realize it’s not the same everywhere. I live in Utah, not Oklahoma, so maybe things are different here, it’s not uncommon for Utah to be quite different from the rest of the country.

    The second thing that suprises me is that you have not found more pro-lifers among your fellow democrats. You say you are pro-life because you believe in the sanctity of human life. I believe if you dug a little deeper into the views of other democrats you would find that many of them share these views. They may not be willing to call themselves pro-life because they disagree with most of the current pro-life legislation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have deep personal beliefs about the sanctity of life.

    • ” They may not be willing to call themselves pro-life because they disagree with most of the current pro-life legislation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have deep personal beliefs about the sanctity of life.”

      Actually, I’ve yet to meet very many pro-life Democrats at all. The few I do meet who have some inkling of the sanctity of life don’t hold it very sacred; they’re usually “I wouldn’t get an abortion but I can’t tell somebody else not to” pro-choicers. That isn’t holding life to be sacred at all.

  9. I think you’re making a mistake to classify your political affiliation with your religion. Catholicism is what defines me. My political affiliation is an informed opinion on what I think is best for the country, whether that coincides with the Democratic party or the Republican, but I wouldn’t define myself as either one.

    The difference is being Catholic requires faith and trust that the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and free from error. The Church couldn’t declare dogmatically that the Democrats are right or moral: She can declare that abortion is intrinsically wrong, or gay “marriage” but certainly not a political party as a whole.

    That’s why there’s nothing wrong with being Catholic and Democratic, as long as the essence of the party does not directly contradict Catholicism, like Communism would, for example.

    The Democratic party tends to support immoral causes like contraception and abortion. Provided you continue to oppose these, you can remain Catholic and Democratic.

  10. I have to disagree. The Democrat party of today is not the Democrat party of JFK. The Democrat party today, as a whole, says it is ok to kill unborn babies. Or like Barrack Obama voted, it is ok to kill a living baby in a botched abortion. I know that there can be Democrats who don’t agree with abortions, but the party does. This is the same party that took God out of their convention. Democrats as a whole says it is ok for two men or two women to be married. Regardless of what the pope says, the Bible says this is wrong. So even though there might be those in the Democrat party who say they are Christians, I would have to argue that you are putting a political party in front of God’s word. It doesn’t mean you have to be a Republican either. Both parties have their problems and have no right to claim that they represent God. However, if you are going to vote for the group that most aligns itself with what God’s word teaches, then you would more times than not have to vote Republican.

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