I’m a Christian…and a Liberal

by Elizabeth on March 14, 2012 · 19 comments

in could be controversial, It's hard out here for a Christian, Politics

Yesterday was the primary election in Alabama and I didn’t vote.  For the first time since I turned 18 and after some deep thinking, I abstained from voting.

It wasn’t because I was was lazy or didn’t care.  I care about politics very much.  It fascinates me just as much as it frustrates me.  I care because I do believe that decisions made in Washington (and in Montgomery) impact my daily life.  But this time, because I care, I could not vote – for anyone.

This isn’t about republican versus democrat.  This is about the issues.  I think that this election, especially this primary season, will be incredibly focused on the issues, due mostly to social networks, which provide a forum for people to bring the issues front and center.

I wasn’t always so concerned about the issues.  I was a republican because my parents and pretty much everyone I knew at UA were.  I wore my Greeks for Bush shirt proudly and passed out voter registration cards for Young Republicans.  But as I got older, and maybe wiser, I started to pay attention to what *I* believed, what I thought was important.  And I began paying attention to the politicians whose beliefs matched mine.

What does this have to do with Christianity you ask?  A whole lot actually.  I am a white, southern Christian.  Statistically I should be a republican.  I should be in favor of the second amendment, prayer in schools, abstinence education, pro-life, and be anti welfare, raising taxes, and big government.  I should really like Rick Santorum and think that Rush Limbaugh was just saying what everyone else was thinking.

I actually am a lot of those things (except the Santorum and Limbaugh thing, because, whoa and no thank you).  I just look at them in a different way.  I happen to really like the second amendment.  Do I believe in gun control and trying to limit the black market? – absolutely.  But if you are old enough and have a permit, you should have a gun if you want one.

I like prayer.  I pray a lot, multiple times a day; I prayed in school all the time, both out loud with friends and silently.  It fills my heart to know that I live in a place that allows me to do that.  But do I believe in school or teacher led prayer?  No.  Do I believe in requiring every student take the Pledge of Allegiance? Absolutely not.  Why not either of these things?  Because not everyone shares the belief of the school or the teacher.  Some might be Christians, some Jewish or Muslim, or Hindu, or an atheist.  By forcing prayer, and thus your beliefs, on them, you are infringing on the right to religious freedom.

I believe in abstinence education…as part of sex education as a whole.  You cannot depend on parents to discuss the issues with their children, and getting information from their friends or the Internet is not the way to go.  Multiple options should be presented – safe sex, STDs, and abstinence as the only way to prevent all of this.  Teens are going to have sex whether we like it or not, so let’s prepare them the best that we can.

I am pro-choice.  This, more any other issue, gets people’s dander up.  I’m going to be straight forward and blunt here: It is no one’s decision but my own on what I can and cannot do with my body.  The government has no right to limit my ability to get an abortion, Plan B, or birth control pills.  The government should stay completely out of all of it, except to regulate the facilities and drug companies just like they do with every other clinic/hospital/whatever and drug company.  I am over 18 and therefore no one can limit my choices just because they think it’s wrong.

I know this goes directly against the teachings of the Church.  I am aware and believe that all life is precious.  But I also don’t believe that anything that cannot survive outside the womb is a baby, with rights.  I don’t believe that birth control pills are different than any other contraceptive, or any other drug on the market.  I believe that the Lord gave me free will and this is way of exercising it.  If that makes me liberal, well then I guess I am.

Welfare is a tricky thing, almost as tricky as reproductive rights.  I like welfare, unemployment benefits, and food stamps.  I know some really great, very smart people who have accepted government help when they couldn’t make ends meet.  Do I believe that the system is flawed and people take advantage of it?  Of course I do.  However, Christ gave to the poor, asked us to give to the poor quietly and humbly (see Matthew 6:2).  Sure that means giving to charities, volunteering, donating items, but isn’t paying your taxes to fund programs that help those who cannot help themselves a form of charity, a way to help the poor?  “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9 NRSV).

Being a Christian does not mean that you have to turn your back on what you believe to be right.  Accepting Christ into your heart gives you a certain freedom, free will, so that you can think and make decisions on your own.  If you vote or support causes just because you are a Christian and that’s what “Christians” support, then you are a hypocrite, and as Isaiah prophesied, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” (Mark 7:6).  The Lord does not want you to be a hypocrite.  He wants you to be truthful to your beliefs and your faith.  So yes, you can be a liberal Christian or you can be a conservative Christian, but no matter what you should know where you stand on the issues, so you can make the best choice for you politically, religiously, and in all aspects of life.

There was no one in this election who mirrored my rights or that I did not find hypocritical.  Thus, I could not vote and stay true to myself – a Christian and a liberal.

*Disclaimer: These are MY opinions only and do not reflect the opinions of my family, friends, the Church, or any political parties.  I only ask that you throw soft things at me. 😉 *

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cate March 14, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Kudos to you for an incredibly calm and well-reasoned post! As you know, I am not a Christian, but I’m always bewildered by Christians who are against government assistance on the grounds that some people might take advantage. It just doesn’t seem very charitable to me.

(And oh my goodness I am so glad to hear you are not a Rick Santorum fan! Not that I thought you were…)

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2 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 9:58 am

Exactly (on the charitable note). In many, many other cases and in lots of organizations our charity is taken advantage of. But for some reason, because it’s the government giving it out, people object. It confuses me.

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3 Amy March 15, 2012 at 12:04 am

I continue to be pleased when you come back to your corner of the internet. We are in for a long election season. Hang in there!

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4 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 9:50 am

Thanks. And I agree about election season. I’m tempted to just ignore my cable until November.

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5 Andria March 15, 2012 at 7:55 am

Well said as always. As a lifelong atheist who was raised Lutheran, so many of these Christian values that make headlines just don’t seem to jibe with what I was taught as a kid. But since I am an atheist, I often find that people dismiss my opinion on these matters without really listening to it. It is always refreshing to find a Christian who not only looks at the bigger picture, but who also remembers that loving your neighbor as yourself–even if they are different than you– is a big part of the package.

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6 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 9:54 am

As far as I can tell, a lot of Christians (or those who were raised in a Christian environment but no longer attend church) are big picture people. But they’re not the ones making noise. It’s the vocal conservative Christians who are stirring up controversy and giving the average, every day Christian a bad name, and, like you, an easily dismissed opinion.

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7 Molly March 15, 2012 at 8:52 am

“But I also don’t believe that anything that cannot survive outside the womb is a baby, with rights.”

Thank you for putting together the words that explain what I’ve tried to articulate.

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8 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

It’s hard to find the right words to say in cases like this. I used the word “anything” very specifically because in my slightly-scientific mind, a “baby” is not a baby until it has the chance of surviving outside the womb. And up until the fetus reaches that point, the mother carries the sole rights of her body and what’s inside.

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9 Carol Walalce March 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Great post, great wisdom and eloquently written! It is so good to read something from you again.

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10 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 9:56 am

Thanks!

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11 Amber March 19, 2012 at 11:01 am

2 words: Yes. Ma’am.

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12 Amy @ Feathered Friendsy March 19, 2012 at 11:03 am

I, too, fall into the “Liberal Christian” group. I’m so, so, so so so so tired of hearing these extremely (like dangerously extreme) conservative politicians chatter on and on about governmental “issues” that shouldn’t even be issues because of something called separation of church and state….AND they do it all in the name of God. Hating people because of their sexuality or choice to use birth control or because they’re poor. I’m sorry, but no one else’s religion belongs in my uterus or personal decision making or socio-economic status.

Another real kicker for me is that a HUGE percentage of the people attacking “the issues” (as in abortion, birth control, women’s rights) are…wait for it…MEN. Men who will never have to deal with said issues up close and personal because they are….MEN. So they treat us [women] as disposable items by disregarding the fact that we do, indeed, have a say in what goes on and continue to try to win over more conservative women by pandering and lying – just so they feel like [some] women agree with them.

Ah. I’m so frustrated by the whole election thing this time around because it seems like absolutely none of the candidates deserve to be voted in. But I’m not particularly thrilled with some of the stuff our current president has spewed from his mouth recently either. I know it isn’t a dictatorship, and who gets voted in will only be a part of the government as a whole, but it scares me to think that extremely conservative and narrow minded people could have veto power over legislation that could help the country greatly.

This got way too long and got me way too fired up. I know that wasn’t your intention but man do politics flip my switches these days. Eh, “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention,” right?

<3 you!

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13 Elizabeth March 19, 2012 at 3:01 pm

I like that: “if you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention”, because it’s perfectly true.

I find it very amusing that it’s men who are passing these laws and saying they know what’s best. Have you heard about the senator from Virginia? It’s pretty hysterical. http://www.themarysue.com/women-leave-vagina-updates-on-facebook/

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14 Megan C. Stroup March 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Wow. That was incredible! First, the long-winded story of how I found your blog: I am an Alpha Delta Pi, and I saw the official Alpha Delta Pi account retweeted one of your pictures, and I was intrigued by your Twitter handle (total #bookworm right here), so I visited your profile, where I then saw you had a blog. As a fellow blogger, I love meeting my sisters on their different sites, so I thought I would stop by. Of course, this post title caught my eye right away.

I am a practicing Catholic, but lately I’ve been a little disillusioned by the Church, and I think that is mainly because of politics. I’ve never understood why the Republican party is associated with Christianity, yet the Democratic party is not. I think Jesus would be in favor of helping those less fortunate than us and loving people who are different than us, which quite frankly, I feel the Democratic party as a whole represents a little better than the Republican party. I consider myself an Independent, but when people ask me about my political affiliation—especially in regard to my religious beliefs—I usually answer: “God didn’t vote.” I don’t think because you believe one tenet of one party, you have to believe all of them, and I don’t think because you are a Christian, you have to be a Republican.

So thank you for a well-written, thought-provoking post! I will definitely be adding your blog to my Google Reader. Oh – and pi love! 🙂

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15 Elizabeth March 20, 2012 at 9:54 am

Hi Megan! Thanks so much for following the twitter trail to get here. I don’t think I have any non-Eta (my chapter at Alabama) readers, so I’m so excited to “meet” another sister! Amber, who commented above, is my little sis as well as one of my best friends.

Glad you found the post thought-provoking…I usually don’t blog about controversial topics, but this one had been stewing around in my brain for a while and I just needed to write it. I am also Catholic, but not practicing. I’m church shopping at the moment without much luck.

I checked out your blog, and your to-do list and think that you could kill two birds with one stone by getting a masters in library and information sciences so you can work in a library. 😉

Oh and welcome to the SEC!

Pi love,
Lizy

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16 Amber March 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

Hi Megan!

ADPi represent!!

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17 Megan C. Stroup March 20, 2012 at 10:37 am

Thanks Amber!

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18 Lydia January 6, 2013 at 6:09 pm

I have a quick question. Aren’t Republicans for small government?

I know I’m really late joining this discussion, but I really appreciate this post. Reading an opposing viewpoint makes me re-evaluate my own viewpoint. I believe that I am not entitled to an opinion. I am entitled only to what I can defend in an argument. Excluding true taste-based opinion, such favorite flavor of ice-cream.

I agree with everything else you said, although for the contraceptives point I personally say that preventing the conception of a baby kills no one, to support access to birth control (my opposition on based on the matter of some birth control pills being unhealthy because of under-regulated pharmaceutical companies, under-tested, unsafe medicine, and widespread misinformation on long-term health effects of the chemicals in the pills being another issue entirely), and I differ from you on recognizing when life begins.

I can understand your point. It seems odd to think of giving a cluster of cells rights. But since ultrasound has shown that developing babies feel pain, and I firmly that if a baby feels the pain of abortion it is murder, who am I to say how soon after conception a baby begins to feel pain and experience living? I can acknowledge your reasoning but not, in good conscience, personally agree.

I actually consider myself a tad more liberal-esque because I support big government on some issues. If you look at the parties, Liberals support (sometimes ridiculous) gun-control laws, whereas the Republicans support freedom of guns, freedom of speech…most freedoms, I have gathered. My interpretation of the abortion issue is that the Republicans opposed the abortion practices of aborting weeks before birth (I forget what that’s called) and aborting based on sex, of course, but mainly government funding of it. Is that not correct at all? I won’t go much more into abortion, since I have not yet read the Time article on abortion, but this issue sums up how I view the parties:

Republicans favor renouncing and not funding what that do not agree with, and Liberals favor heavily restricting or outlawing what they do not agree with.

Where I think my Christian faith affects my political views is where I think too far into the future on issues then perhaps is reasonable. Do condoms/pills provide a low-cost prevention method for poor couples who cannot afford to support children? Yes. Can condoms make easier or promote premarital sex and extramarital affairs? Yes. Then I find myself asking: Should that influence whether I support condoms or whether I support better advertising of family values?

I often find myself stuck between wanting to act in order to prevent the negative effects of an issue and trying not to allow the actions of a few influence my support of an issue or ideal that would benefit the majority.

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19 Elizabeth January 9, 2013 at 4:19 pm

At first I thought you caught a big mistake of mine, but if you reread that sentence it says “…and should be anti welfare, raising taxes, and big government.” Maybe I wasn’t clear, but I was trying to say that a republican should be against those things (in my opinion). Hope that clears it up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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