Conservative evangelicals in the GOP hum along to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign hymn book because he hits the right partisan notes: no abortions, no same-sex marriage, no
taxes, minimal government, and constant pledges to reduce the deficit.
Romney wins over many conservative evangelicals when he speaks as he did kast weekend in Virginia: “I will not take God out of our platform. . .I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.”
Way to go, Romney. The promise to protect the nation’s Judeo-Christian roots, if only in form and not substance, builds goodwill with many conservative evangelicals in the GOP.
During the election at least, Romney and conservative evangelicals speak the same generic theological language. Doctrinal discussions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ teachings and how it differs from historical, orthodox Christianity, don’t need to come up right now. The deity of Jesus, the canonicity of the Scriptures and eternal salvation don’t play well in politics. Those subjects are cool for Bible study on Friday evenings over potluck, or in the study halls of a sleepy seminary, but the GOP doesn’t want those conversations popping up as hot topics on the campaign trail.
Romney’s handlers want to sidestep the migraines of tomorrow by sticking to the soft-sell religious scripts of today. Why risk the theological missteps of the Democrats? They dropped God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel from the Democratic Party platform and ignited tons of conspiracy theories among many Bible-believing, Israel-supporting Christians.
President Obama, a Christian, restored the platform language to reflect his personal views, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Monday was still explaining what
happened last week in Charlotte.
By embracing Romney as a candidate, conservative evangelicals have widened their political tent. Wait a minute. Haven’t conservative evangelicals often accused their more liberal brethren of making political choices at the expense of Christian theology? Have conservative evangelicals now committed that same act?
Or, have the GOP’s conservative evangelicals simply conceded that Christians must vote their conscience in a pluralistic country? In other words, what happens in the ballot box, well, it stays prayerfully in the ballot box.
While conservative evangelicals who support Romney flex their political diversity muscles, some Christians intend to fill in Jesus’ name as a presidential candidate. Both Obama and Romney underwhelm them, and they feel adrift. Other Christians feel so disenchanted they’re planning to sit this election out.
Christian leaders on both sides of the political aisle may want to pay attention. Dissatisfaction with the political system may lead Christians in the pews to look to the hills from whence cometh their help. Yes, being in the world and not of it includes participating in the political process, but this election illumines the importance of spiritual transcendence. The political system is a tool in the hands of Christians, not an idol wrapped in stars and stripes.
Because Christians claim a supreme power, a higher vantage point is theirs to claim. If the God of the Bible is who he says he is, then doesn’t he give his church the answers it needs? After all, the White House simply isn’t big enough to fix what’s broken. Even if the leader of the free world hits every theological note with perfect pitch.
Judy Howard Ellis is a Dallas-based creative consultant for entrepreneurs and the author of “Fall of the Savior-King,” a fantasy novel inspired by the Book of Genesis. Follow her on Twitter: @JudyHowardEllis