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For many years God was a registered independent. He mainly spoke to the government through Reverend Billy Graham, who has met with and advised every president from Harry Truman through George W. Bush. Graham has seldom been publicly political, and according to Wikipedia:
Politically, Graham has been a registered member of the Democratic Party and leaned Republican during the presidency of his friend Richard Nixon. He has not completely allied himself with the religious right, saying that Jesus did not have a political party. He does not openly endorse political candidates, but he has given his support to some over the years.
He refused to join Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in 1979, saying: “I’m for morality, but morality goes beyond sex to human freedom and social justice. We as clergy know so very little to speak with authority on the Panama Canal or superiority of armaments. Evangelists cannot be closely identified with any particular party or person. We have to stand in the middle in order to preach to all people, right and left.”
As mentioned above, the “Dark Period” began in 1979 when Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority and persuaded God to become a Republican. And God delivered for the Republicans, as was conclusively proved by the Florida recount debacle of 2000, and the inexplicable reelection of Bush in 2004.
But after watching Bush’s second term, it would seem God changed His vote in the presidential approval ratings poll (and His flock followed). A change in priorities is taking hold. For example, what would God be more concerned about — gay marriage or the damage to our environment? How does a couple of guys, or gals, going down to the courthouse to (gasp!) sign the same piece of paper compare to humanity treating the planet like a garbage dump? How would you feel if you spent 6 days slaving over a hot planet, only to finish and immediately see the kids come in and shit all over it?
There is a growing movement among evangelicals called “creation care” that advocates for environmental issues. Their website, CreationCare.org, has a page titled “An Evangelical Declaration on the Care of Creation” that includes the following:
Because we worship and honor the Creator, we seek to cherish and care for the creation.
Because we have sinned, we have failed in our stewardship of creation. Therefore we repent of the way we have polluted, distorted, or destroyed so much of the Creator’s work.
We recall Jesus’ words that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions, and therefore we urge followers of Jesus to resist the allure of wastefulness and overconsumption by making personal lifestyle choices that express humility, forbearance, self restraint and frugality.
This is from an organization called the Evangelical Environmental Network (no, that is not a typo). The EEN has gained some national attention before, by leading the WWJD (What Would Jesus Drive) campaign in 2002 to bring awareness about automobile pollutions’ role in global warming. And the EEN is tapping into a growing frustration among evangelicals with the Republican party:
According to a March survey released by EEN, sixty-three percent of evangelicals now agree that global warming is an immediate concern. And increasing numbers are willing to change their consumption and voting habits in connecting their biblical values into faithful action. Noting this growing change, Richard Cizik, vice-president for Governmental Affairs of the 30-million strong National Association of Evangelicals, adds, “There’s going to be a lot of political reconsideration on this in the coming year.”
Rasmussen’s tracking of party affiliation shows that Democrats currently have the widest margin in party affiliation that their polling has ever recorded:
During the month of April, 41.4% of Americans considered themselves to be Democrats. Just 31.4% said they were Republicans and 27.2% were not affiliated with either major party.
Who is switching from Republican to Democrat? The easiest answer is that it’s people fed up with Bush’s handling of the Iraq War. Could it also be a more permanent shift among some church-goers open to what the Evangelical Environmental Network is advocating, who never fit perfectly into the Rovian model of culture-issue-only voters as pawns of the Republican party? In a recent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Chris Korzen, author of A Nation for All: How the Catholic Vision of the Common Good Can Save America from the Politics of Division, said:
…I think it speaks to a sense of where people are in America right now: that they’re desperately tired of the kind of politics of division that we’ve seen in our country. They’re seeking a more robust debate about religion and politics — and really to tackle the fundamental issues of our time like war, poverty and the climate crisis.
And Jennifer Butler, author of Born Again: The Christian Right Globalized, added:
…one of the terms that has resonated a lot, I think, across these kinds of groups that we’re talking about is “common good”: that people want to work together for the most vulnerable in society. They want to work together to make sure that everybody’s needs in society are met, and that is often counter to the sort of rampant greed and individualism that we see in society today.
These voters are more interested in serious issues than in some of the ridiculous arguments of the past. If the earth is in crisis today, does it really matter whether it is 6000 years old or 4 billion years old? The advent of technologies like radiocarbon dating, which dates organic material up to 60,000 years old by it’s remaining carbon content, had already persuaded many rational church-goers that the Biblical creation story was only allegorical. Apparently the creationists (such as Rev. Huckabee) believe that God has nothing better to do with His time than to run around the planet taking carbon out of dead things, tricking scientists into thinking they are more than 6000 years old.
God was left with little choice. The Republicans’ agenda of intolerance can’t be His priority when faced with immediate and massive problems like war, poverty, and environmental crisis. So God left the Republican party (or did it leave Him?) in favor of a more rational, responsible, and progressive movement. Welcome back to the Democratic party, God. And by the way, we may need Your divine intervention to keep us from screwing up this election.