The Values Quagmire

February 15, 2005

The Democratic leadership has a funny way of showing its commitment to “values.” Perhaps it should first decide whether it wants to adopt Christian values, redefine them or just cynically mock them.

When liberals were cockier about their political fortunes, they were quick to demean certain Christians as “largely poor, uneducated and easy to command” or the “American Taliban.”

Don’t get me wrong. The Left is still making fun of Christians, but they’ve gotten a little cagier. Now they’re claiming a slice of the pie for themselves, saying they are the true Christians and decrying Republicans for trying to assert a monopoly on Christianity. Well, I guess we’re making some progress.

Ever since the mostly bizarre presidential exit polls signaled the importance of “values” among voters, Democrats have been scrambling to devise a way to work themselves seamlessly into that “demographic.” So far, it doesn’t appear they’ve even convinced themselves, but they’re still working on it. Several recent news items illustrate the point.

Howard Dean has been making a lot of noise since his triumphal ascension to the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). But when it comes to values — at least traditional ones — the poor guy, like the party he represents, is painfully ambivalent at best.

During the DNC meeting on Friday, a lady from the Women’s Caucus asked the irascible governor (don’t call him “Chairman”) why those Republicans keep prattling on about “moral values.” The Dean of Scream responded, “When they don’t have any, is that what you mean?

Mad Howard didn’t stop there. He likened Republicans to “Pharisees and Sadducees” whose hypocrisy Jesus denounced. He also said Jesus’ teachings about the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom of God weren’t “part of the Republican platform.”

Apparently wanting to demonstrate he was conversant with the Old Testament as well, Howard snuck in an allusion to Moses’ wilderness wanderings in describing the Republicans’ recently ended minority status. He said, “Republicans wandered around in the political wilderness for 40 years before they took back Congress.” Are we to assume — fittingly — that the new DNC “governor” equates Congress to the Promised Land?

Howard is not the only Democrat protesting the Republicans’ supposed identification with scripture. Alabama state Rep. Alvin Holmes defiantly promised to give $700 (now it’s up to $5,000 I hear) to any person who could show him a biblical passage expressing that marriage is between man and woman. When someone took him up on it, Holmes said, “Anybody could have any interpretation they want of the Bible, and that’s not my interpretation.” I suppose it should not surprise us that in this postmodern era with its full frontal assault on truth, people — even some who call themselves Christians — will say that scripture says anything we want it to say.

Riding to the rescue of these gentlemen is Rev. Jim Wallis, who has written a book, “God’s Politics,” in which he reportedly provides ammunition to the political Left to reclaim the evangelical voter.

I haven’t yet read the book, but according to a Chicago Tribune story on it, Wallis takes conservatives to task for their inattention to poverty and other issues. “How did the faith of Jesus come to be known as pro-rich, pro-war, and only pro-American?” asks Wallis.

Such mischaracterizations, reveal, at the very least the naivete of the politically liberal Christian. Conservative Christians advocate free market and constitutional principles they believe (and history has proven) will do more to eradicate poverty than any other system. That they don’t subscribe to the failed strategies of socialism doesn’t mean they are less compassionate toward the poor.

No conservative Christian I know is pro-war or “only pro-American.” But most of them support “just wars” and wars to protect our national security, which they don’t believe require the permission of other nations. They also reject the liberals’ definition of “unilateral” military actions as those unsupported by the French, Germans and Russians.

The Democratic leadership should understand that it won’t endear itself to many Christian voters by rewriting scripture, embracing relativism, facilitating a culture of death, endorsing homosexuality as a civil right, portraying government-coerced redistributions of other people’s money as acts of compassion toward the poor, and preaching class warfare notwithstanding the Commandment against “coveting.”

Far be it from me to assert, on behalf of political conservatives, a monopoly on Christianity. But I would humbly suggest that if Democrats want to avoid digging themselves into a deeper values quagmire, they would be well advised to pursue a different approach, one that doesn’t involve recasting Christian values and rewriting scripture.