Casting Stones

Casting Stones

Religion, Values Voters, and the 2008 Election Cycle

A couple of days after the 2004 presidential election I received a phone call from a reporter from a national publication. She wanted to know about those “moral values” voters, the 25 percent of Americans who stated in exit polls that moral values were their No. 1 issue. The “chattering classes” were still in shock about both the values voters and the fact they played such a pivotal role in George W. Bush’s reelection (the only president in U.S. history to secure reelection after having won a first term with fewer votes than his opponents).
This reporter wanted to know who these values voters were. I explained that they were Evangelicals by the millions (26 percent of all voters identified themselves as “Evangelicals” in exit polling and they voted 78 percent for Bush). I added that they were also Mainline Protestants (68 percent of those who identified themselves as “traditional” voted for Bush in those same exit polls) as did 72 percent of “traditional” non-Latino Catholics.
Some have argued that such “values” voters have moved to the political center and away from Republicans. Most of these voters, particularly Evangelicals, consider themselves values voters first, and vote Republican when they get a “pro-life” or “pro-family” bonus for doing so. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and American Life, 72 percent of white Evangelicals voted for Republican candidates in U.S. House elections in 2006, and they made up 24 percent of the electorate who actually cast votes.
The moral values voters have altered the political landscape radically. The debate between the secularists and those who believe religious convictions of all faiths have a valid and important place in public policy (i.e. political) debates is over—and the secularists did not win.
How else do you explain Senators Clinton and Obama attending the “Compassion Forum” last Sunday night at Messiah College in Grantham, Pennsylvania? This event, telecast by CNN with Campbell Brown and Jon Meacham as moderators, included questions from selected, diverse religious leaders from around the country. (I was invited to participate, but had a previously scheduled preaching assignment that precluded my attendance.)
And what questions they were. Questions about abortion, euthanasia, torture, creation—“Did God really create the world in six days?”—and creation care. Further, we had questions such as, “Do you have a favorite Bible story?” and “Do you believe God wants you to be president?”
To watch the Compassion Forum was to see just how much the political landscape has been transformed by values voters. Can you imagine Howard Dean and John Kerry at such a forum and responding to such questions? I would pay money for a ticket to see that tableau being played out on screen.
Both parties now understand that they have to value and respect “values” voters and even when they disagree with their positions on issues like abortion, at least explain why and attempt to justify their differing conclusions.
Personally, I think that process will make Democrats better Democrats, Republicans better Republicans, Independents better Independents, Americans better Americans, and America a better place.

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Scott Cottingham

posted April 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm

It turns out your “moral values voters” are willing to ignore atrocities as long as they get the “pro-life” or “pro-family” bonus.
Torture? 9/11 makes it ok.
Killing civilians? There’s always collaterial damage in war.

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Charles Cosimano

posted April 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Ok, that meant that 75% of the voters did not consider moral values their number one reason for voting for anyone. You can’t win anything with only 25% of the vote.

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Doug Indeap

posted April 19, 2008 at 1:55 am

“Dogma voters” is the more fitting label. “Values voters” is a label invented by people who like to think of themselves as championing good human values. What many of them are pushing actually is dogma. “Values” are “the principles that help you to decide what is right and wrong, and how to act in various situations.” Cambridge Dictionary of American English. “Dogma” is “a fixed, esp. religious, belief or set of beliefs that people are expected to accept without any doubts.” Id.
The two, we can only hope, overlap to some extent, but they are hardly the same. Some of what religious fundamentalists hold up as values others find plainly wrongheaded and even immoral. Labels count. Those pushing the “values voters” label hope it will help them pass off their dogma as values. If they want to push their dogma, that’s their right. But “dogma voters” they are, and that’s what I’ll call them.

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recovering ex-Pentecostal

posted April 22, 2008 at 11:17 am

Land means HIS ‘values’. He doesn’t ‘value’ all families equally and thus has devolved into dogma as Doug says above. No wonder the “religious” “right” are no longer believed or trusted.

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recovering ex-Pentecostal

posted April 22, 2008 at 11:21 am

“And what questions they were. Questions about abortion, euthanasia, torture, creation—“Did God really create the world in six days?”—and creation care. Further, we had questions such as, “Do you have a favorite Bible story?” and “Do you believe God wants you to be president?”
To watch the Compassion Forum was to see just how much the political landscape has been transformed by values voters.”

True. They have taken the “promise” that “there shall be NO religious tests to hold public office” and shat on it. Those questions have NO place in politics. It’s (or it used to be) called a “personal relationship” with God for a reason. That reason lies in tatters because of the damage done to it by the self-described “values votgers”. And it has harmed America – probably irreparably. Remember, romney wasn’t “Christian” enough to be elected President, so now Clinton and Obama have to scramble to ‘prove’ they ARE! ‘Nuff said.

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Aleene Griswold

posted April 22, 2008 at 4:25 pm

This is a question rather than a comment.
I read the other day there is a Constitutional Party. What is
the Constitutional Party? Is a spin off of the Democratic,
Republican, or Independent Party?

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