Amy Sullivan, a senior editor at Time, a liberal Democrat and so-called evangelical Christian thinks Democrats should not be afraid to seek the evangelical vote and has written a field guide, full of hole no less, detailing how. It’s called, “The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap.”
Here a few excerpts from an interview with Salon about the book.
You’re pro-choice. Does that interfere with being an evangelical?
Well, I don’t like the [pro-choice] label. I guess the reason I wrote about abortion the way I did in the book is because I have serious moral concerns about abortion, but I don’t believe that it should be illegal.
The correct answer to the question is a resounding, YES. Life is the fundamental issue for evangelical Christians. Anyone claiming to be an evangelical and cannot pass the basic life test probably isn’t an evangelical Christian. They’ve bought into the politicizing of a moral issue and thus there isn’t a need to proceed with Sullivan’s self-proclaimed evangelical beliefs. But we’ll do so anyway.
You suggest that Democrats should really emphasize this desire to keep abortions rare. But do you think these efforts will appease evangelical voters who firmly believe abortion is wrong?
You’re never going to win over all evangelicals, and I don’t think anyone has suggested that. But 40 percent of evangelical voters are politically moderate, and when you dig deeper into that, you find that abortion is not their key issue. They’re very willing to vote for a candidate who differs with them on abortion.
If someone believes abortions should be rare, how do they justify those “rare” circumstances in which it is morally acceptable? The life of the mother? Please, those actual circumstances comprise about 2% of all abortions, yet liberals refuse to give any ground on the other 98%. They are more consumed with the power to devalue human life as they see fit than limiting abortions. Another example of the hypocrisy from the left.
On the issue of gay rights specifically, where many evangelicals believe that according to the Bible homosexuality is a sin, how can Democrats who believe in gay rights and support a gay marriage amendment appeal to evangelicals and to the liberal base?
Well, one thing with this issue is that it’s very closely related to age. So we see with younger voters, evangelical and non-evangelical, that the issue of gay rights and gay marriage is much less of a controversial hot button to them than it is to their older counterparts. Democrats have been smart to recognize this. There will always be evangelicals who will never vote for a pro-choice candidate, but you’re also going to have a pretty large pool of voters who just don’t want to have someone call their personal beliefs right-wing and intolerant. They’re willing to set aside those beliefs and vote for someone with whom they disagree on those issues. They just don’t want to be ridiculed for them.
Yes, many younger voters have a more liberal-tainted worldview than Christian worldview. The Christian worldview has no tolerance for sin, from sex outside of marriage to homosexuality. But, here again as with abortion, it’s obvious that the over-politicization of a moral issue like homosexuality has forced Christians to go on the defensive. To be fair, many Christians have not handled that defense in a loving way, making them easy targets for labels of hatred and bigotry. But that doesn’t mean they were wrong in their stance. I don’t allow society to determine if my beliefs are “right-wing” or “intolerant.” My beliefs are based on the bible, not some constantly fluctuating social barometer that bobs up and down with the current moral tide. I’d much rather be “right-wing” and “intolerant” and in line with the bible than tolerant of sin.
How do you see evangelicals voting in this fall’s presidential election?
I see evangelical voters voting the same way that everyone else does. They have serious concerns. They are concerned about the economy. They are concerned about not being able to provide healthcare for their families. They are concerned about the war in large part. And increasingly they’re concerned about our place in the world. Like what we’re doing to combat third-world poverty, what we’re doing to protect the environment. The reason that I was writing about whether Democrats can become more savvy or aware of religious voters, is not to put religious issues on the agenda. It’s to take them off … and in so doing, focus on the issues that all voters really care about.
The economy? Nope. Providing healthcare? Not here. The war? Just keep us in Iraq. Place in the world? We’re doing fine; just don’t get government in the way. Protect the environment? Nothing new needed except let us drill in ANWAR. You can’t take religious issues off the table, until you have true religious beliefs. Sullivan’s beliefs are more liberal than evangelical, thus the distinct disconnect between her views and those of a true evangelical.