Over at the Evangelical Outpost, Joe Carter confronts the David Kirkpatrick article on the ‘evangelical crackup’ by saying it “is mostly a rehash of the dominant media perspective on evangelicals and politics, though it is noteworthy for Kirkpatrick’s style of ‘journalism by name-dropping.'” Rather than focusing on people, Carter argues, we should focus on recognizing and prioritizing the six key principles of evangelical public policy. They are:
Principle 1: Protecting the sanctity of human life
Because all humans are created in God’s image, evangelicals believe that all people have an inherent and inalienable dignity. We believe that it is at the times when life is most vulnerable, particularly in the early stages of development and at the period near death, that life is most in need of protection. Evangelicals believe in promoting policies that recognize the dignity of all humans without regard to such relativistic criteria as mental capacities or “quality of life.”
Issues: Abortion, euthanasia, embryo destruction, capital punishment, cloning, and unethical human experimentation.
Principle 2: The nurturing of family life and the protection of children
While the institutions of marriage and church bear the primary responsibility for fulfilling this duty, evangelicals believe that the government should promote laws and policies that strengthen the well being of families.
Issues: Promotion of policies on marriage and divorce law, education, tuition vouchers, drug policies, abstinence promotion, fair labor practices, anti-discrimination legislation, protections against spouse and child abuse, affordable health care, reducing crime
Principle 3: Seeking justice and compassion for the poor and vulnerable
Evangelicals believe in the promotion of both a fair legal system that does not favor either the rich or poor and in a fair economic system that does not tolerate perpetual poverty. This principle also includes the protection of the vulnerable members of society, including the poor, children, the elderly, the disabled, refugees, minorities, the persecuted, and the imprisoned.
Issues: Poverty reduction both in America and abroad, torture, anti-pornography legislation, immigration reform, stemming the AIDS pandemic, ending slavery and sexual trafficking, stopping prison rape.
Principle 4: The protection of religious freedom
Evangelicals believe that the joint freedoms of religion and conscience constitute the First Liberty and are deserving of protection both in our own country and abroad.
Related Issues: Defense of First Amendment protections, expansion of religious freedoms abroad
Principle 5: Seeking peace and restraining violence
Although evangelicals prefer that governments pursue nonviolent paths to restoring peace, most of us recognize that military force can be a legitimate means of restraining evil. While there is no consensus on how this principle should be implemented, we are in general agreement that the principles of just war must guide our government’s policies.
Issues: Defending against terrorism, ending genocide, weapons proliferation, defending human rights against tyrannical regimes
Principle 6: The protection of God’s creation
Evangelicals believe that stewardship of the earth is a responsibility delegated to us by our Creator. Because the earth is a shared resource, the government has a particularly important role in implementing policies that protect the environment.
Issues: Promoting recycling, reduction of pollution, protecting animals from cruelty, conservation of resources, proper care for wildlife and their habitats
These six principles are not exhaustive but they do provide the primary base of evangelical political concern. Almost every issue that is discussed by evangelicals–on both sides of the political spectrum–is framed in a way that appeals to one of these six principles.