Beliefnet
Michael YoussefIt is no secret that if one U.S. political party is labeled as "evangelical Christian," it is the Republican Party.

Born-again Christians were a significant factor in President Bush’s re-election, the Barna Group reported after the 2004 election. Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said that the GOP is "pretty much a white, Christian party." And in its "Republican Party" entry, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia states that Judeo-Christian voters who are more religiously active "identify more with the Republican Party, while secular and less religiously active citizens identify more with the Democratic Party.”

Go figure.

Call it a demographic. A stereotype. A label. Call it what you will—but keep in mind that while a lot of stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, labels can be very misleading.

One of those often-misleading labels is the term "evangelical." Many erroneously call themselves evangelicals—yet they empirically deny the very essence of the term.

Let me explain. The term "evangelical" was assumed by those who believed that salvation is only possible through faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Somehow, through the years, the term has lost its potency, and many who would not subscribe to its true meaning now wrap themselves with its flag.

True evangelicals believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation and heaven and that the Bible’s two covenants—old and new—are God’s self-revelation. Tragically, to many in our culture and in the popular media, the term "evangelical" conjures up the image of angry people who are anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, and anti-sexual promiscuity.

First and foremost, true evangelicals are not anti-anything. They are pro-life because God’s Word—which, again, we take to be His self-revelation—clearly states that a baby in the womb is knitted and weaved by God. The Psalmist writes: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb....When I was woven together...your eyes saw my unformed body" (Psalm 139:13, 15-16, NIV). And in Jeremiah we read, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV).

True evangelicals are pro-heterosexual marriage. God created man and woman to be anatomically compatible; therefore, any other sexual practice is a perversion of His creation. True evangelicals are pro-family because a family defined as a husband, a wife, and children is God’s idea. In Genesis, we read that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (2:24, NIV). Anything that tampers with that idea collides with God’s excellent plan for human happiness.
So why would true evangelicals and—I dare say—committed Catholics vote more for the GOP than the Democratic Party?

The answer lies with the platforms of both parties.

Since the Reagan administration, the GOP platform has been unabashedly pro-life, pro-family and pro-heterosexual marriage. The Democratic Party platform, on the other hand, has been either out-and-out permissive on these issues or, in some cases, silent on them. It is amusing to see, after the 2004 election, some Democrats asking themselves, “How can we reach the red states?” Some humorously have suggested that their leaders need to enroll in evangelical Bible colleges. But leopards do not and cannot change their spots—even if they try to color their language.

Still, there is a prevailing question. Why would evangelicals back the GOP not only on these domestic social concerns, but also on issues such as the war in Iraq?

Governments—whether or not they acknowledge it—serve God’s ultimate plan. In addition to defending and protecting its citizens, a government must punish evil—such as the evil seen in a pre-war Iraq.

Also, many evangelicals stand shoulder to shoulder with President Bush on the war in Iraq because they are ardent supporters of the State of Israel. A prevailing thought before the war was that Israel—whose very existence is viewed as the fulfillment of some biblical prophecies—was considered to be a primary target of Iraq. To some evangelicals, the survival of the State of Israel is just as important as the survival of the United States.

On all these issues, the Republican Party is more in line with evangelical concerns. But as Christians, we must be careful. Churches cannot promote partisan politics from the pulpit and keep their tax-exempt status. More importantly, we cannot judge a person’s salvation and faith in Christ—or lack thereof—based on his ballot. 

Furthermore, as Christians, we must respect and pray for our country’s leadership—no matter what party is in office, no matter what kind of ticket we carry, no matter what color state we call home.

As a true non-partisan, I can categorically declare that God is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. When Christians cast their votes, the questions we should be asking are: Who is on God’s side? Which candidate seeks to honor God’s ideals for human fulfillment? And what candidate is committed to carrying the implication of God’s very foundation for a blessed society?

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