It’s a sign of the times when no one at the hair salon is talking about gay marriage or other “culture war” issues and are instead discussing the salon’s bottom line. In the chair last week, that’s all my stylist could talk about—how the sharp decline in color treatments, pedicures and perms were a harbinger of bad times ahead and how nervous she was about the economy.
The problem is, she’ll still vote for John McCain—just like she voted for George W. Bush the last two times.
The University of Akron’s National Survey of Religion and Politics found that pocketbook concerns have replaced social issues, such as same-sex marriage, as a top worry. Four years ago, President Bush won re-election amid a climate where religious voters said they supported Republicans based on values – something that doesn’t appear changed as Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama enter their final sprint.
In 2004, about one in 10 self-described traditional evangelicals were most worried about the economy, rating it behind social issues and foreign policy, according to the study. This year, that number rose to about a third of all self-described traditional evangelicals.
According to the survey, even though they are apparently concerned more about the economy than what other people do in their bedrooms, most traditional evangelicals will vote to continue the failed Republican policies that have led to the current ruin of the U.S. economy:
The study also found that, despite an aggressive campaign, Democrat Barack Obama has made little inroads with self-identified evangelicals. Republican John McCain is approaching the support President Bush enjoyed during his re-election in 2004. “It’s difficult to turn around social trends quickly,” said John Green, director of the University of Akron Bliss Institute and survey author.
Overall, evangelicals favored McCain over Obama, 57 percent to 20 percent. Among self-described traditional evangelicals, McCain was the favorite, with 72 percent support.
The bottom line is that even though their livelihoods are threatened by a failing free market, high energy prices, high food prices, dwindling paychecks and disappearing social security nets, evangelicals will stubbornly support a Republican ticket that goes against their own economic self interest so as to not give an inch of civil rights to gays and lesbians.
What these “value voters” disregard are the very real economic values of the Bible. It’s not “How much hay can I make for me while the sun shines?” but “How can we all enjoy God’s abundance?” that drives the biblical economic view.
Deuteronomy 15: 7-11 makes this clear:
If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.
And we’re never commanded to ask if that brother (or sister) is gay or lesbian or in favor of same-sex marriage. There’s no command that we all agree on political topics. There’s only a command to be generous with one another—without holding a grudge because of some disagreement—even if it’s a fundamental disagreement. But wait, there is a silver lining in this poll:
When all religious groups, as well as atheists, are combined, Obama leads McCain by about 5 percentage points, and 21 percent said they were still undecided.
Perhaps there are more “value voters” on both sides of the political fence who understand what God truly values is people who are willing to protect the weak from the strong—even if they have to grow their hair and forgo highlights.