Wednesday, October 15, 2008


At Christianity Today, Sarah Pulliam reports that, although the political priorities of evangelicals haven't changed much, the inclination to identify with a political party has:
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said he is seeing evangelicals move away from identifying themselves strongly with a particular party.

"They're not necessarily attached to a party but a set of issues," Perkins said. "I do think the issue set has broadened because our society is more complex. But I don't think the priorities have changed. It's life, it's marriage, it's family."

Cameron Strang, editor of Relevant, a magazine for Christians in their 20s, was registered as a Republican when he agreed to give a benediction at the Democratic National Convention. After he backed out of the benediction, he also announced that he would register as an independent.

"I want to vote because of values and convictions, not party affiliations," Strang said. "To me, that's an important part of being a thinking, values-minded Christian."

Many of the 20-something evangelicals Strang is trying to reach apparently agree: Identification with the Republican Party among evangelicals between the ages of 18-29 fell from 55 percent in 2001 to 40 percent in 2007, the Pew Forum found. Identification with the Democratic Party stayed relatively flat (from 16 percent to 19 percent). [more]

Partisanship, what some of the Founders called "party spirit," or "my party, right or wrong," is always foolish - whether practiced by a Christian or anyone else. A political party is a coalition of interests and ideological tendencies. I always told my students that they should first decide what they believe and then support the candidate or party that provides the best means of furthering those beliefs. But it is through party organization and party primaries that candidates are chosen, and it is the activist members of a party who determine the poltical party's orientation on the issues. If the decision to be "independent" rather than identifying with one party or the other means disengagement from the political process, then it means less influence over that process.

Gary Bauer makes the case for continued engagement:
"It's almost 'in' these days to do that," [that is, to disaffiliate from a party] "But it means that when the party organization is trying to figure out what kind of platform it's going to have and what kind of people it's going to have run, we lose our ability to influence that very important grassroots activity."

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you here, and as a member of the age group examined by the study I definitely feel my own inclination to disalign myself with any particular party. For me, the issues are the determining factor.

    That said, I am a Republican, because nearly all the issues (or at least the most important ones) line up that way. And I am annoyed when I see other Republicans who really are partisan. That kind of thinking seems to foster an "us vs them" mentality, as if Democrats are our mortal enemies. That is a shallow and detrimental view, in my opinion.


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