Election and the Elect

It has been observed that the Christian voice as a whole failed to participate in the political forums of America for much of this century. The intent by some to avoid the "social gospel" and by others to re- interpret the meaning of the "separation of church and state" contributed to this phenomenon. In the late seventies and early eighties, however, evangelical Protestants and conservative Catholics, dismayed that the counterculturalists of the sixties had become mainstream in American life, galvanized as a political force over such issues as abortion and school prayer. This "Religious Right" movement has met with criticism from all quarters ever since. Nevertheless, it remains a formidible political force in our time. Should Christians speak out on political issues? Should they unite to help or hinder certain candidates? Or should their concerns be restricted to otherworldliness and the salvation of souls?

These questions will not go away. In fact, the intensity of the debate over these issues seems to grow more fierce over time. The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, state legislation on abortion, same sex marriage, and educational curriculae are but some of the issues for battlegrounds in what has become known as the "culture war." Election time might be an appropriate moment to reflect on the principles that should guide Christians to their proper role in political affairs.

Feature Article:

America Shrugged
Bob Jones IV
Republicans counted on America's sense of disgust over presidential misdeeds to propel them to new electoral heights. It didn't happen and there was no Plan B - a positive agenda - so the Grand Old Party barely held on to its congressional majority.

More Articles:

Politics and Religion
Kerby Anderson
"You can't legislate morality" is an often heard phrase. This principle has kept many Christians from trying to influence legislation for years. Is it time to reconsider the relation between morality and the law?

Ralph Reed's Real Agenda
Richard John Neuhaus
Fr. Neuhaus provides this review of Ralph Reed's book "Active Faith: How Christians Are Changing the Soul of American Politics." The reviewer provides insight into the broader issues that the book only mentions in passing, the general principles and problems of Christian action in the political world.

Political Education and Political Action
Andrew A. Siicree
Although written as part of a guide to pro-life activism, this article has broad application in helping Christians become active in the political sphere.

Who Elected Clinton: A Collision of Values
John Green, Lyman Kellstedt, James Guth, and Corwin Smidt
Were there substantive issues in the 1996 presidential campaign? As we look back, the election was instructive as to how the current political alignments are divided. The authors describe these divisions in a broad historical context.

A Christian View of Politics, Government, and Social Action
Kerby Anderson
Mr. Anderson gives a Christian view on government and its relation to human nature.

To Be Citizens Again
William A. Schambra
Many people vote for a candidate based on his or her position on welfare issues. Since the New Deal, it has been common to assume that the government should be responsible for the well-being of all citizens. At one time Americans looked to what may be called "mediating structures" to help those in need. Perhaps it is time to reconsider helping the needy primarily through volunteer efforts.

The Problem With Liberalism
J. Budziszewski
The author considers the philosophic principles of liberalism.

The Problem With Conservatism
J. Budziszewski
The author criticizes what he believes are the core principles of conservatism.

Who's Stupid Now?
James Nuechterlein
This article briefly considers the conflict of ideas between liberalism and conservatism in 20th century America.

We would love to get your feedback on this special focus. Please tell us what you think.

Go here to see our past Special Focus features.