Becoming sensitive to this criticism, religiously conservative Christian leaders are now trying to introduce nuance into what it means to be a single-issue voter. To more and more people, it is no longer appropriate to base one's vote on the abortion issue alone. That is the message of two blogposts by such leaders, Joe Carter (click here for a bio) and Denny Burk (click here for a bio). In their respective articles, both argued that we can no longer vote for a candidate simply because of their stance on abortion. However, do both propose that Christians could vote for any candidate who does not pass their Prolife litmus test? The answer to that question is found in recent articles they wrote to their readers (click here for Denny Burk's article and click there for Joe Carter's article).
The two articles by Burk and Carter are similar. Both advocate a qualified single-issue approach to voting. The approach is qualified in this sense, there are other issues and practices which should bar Christians from voting for any given candidate. Borrowing from an article by John Piper, Burk lists the following traits or positions of racism, fraud, or bribery as deal breakers in terms of whether any Christian should vote for a given candidate. Carter's list of traits or positions is more narrow in that he focuses on issues of justice in terms of how one recognizes the human dignity of another. Here he at least acknowledges there are other issues that should be used in determining whether a given candidate has an adequate concern for justice and human dignity. In other words, before judging someone to be Prolife, that person must be concerned with those who have been born as well. So we must be concerned with how those politicians who claim to be Prolife would be truly Prolife by how they view and try to help children who live in poverty or refugees from nations like Syria.
In contrast to Burk, Carter suggests that no candidate who supports a woman's right to choose could have any legitimate concern for human dignity and justice in other situations. He wrote:
If a candidate is unwilling to protect children in the womb in America, why should I believe they care about the plight of children in Darfur?
Now after that quote, Carter demonstrates some vagueness as to whether a Christian could vote for any candidate who supports a woman's right to choose. He seems to argue for the allowance of voting for non Pro-life candidates when he quotes Clark Forsythe in saying:
there is no moral compromise when we make the aim of politics not the perfect good but the greatest good possible
And yet, how can one vote for a non Prolife candidate since, according to the first quote, such a candidate may not possibly have any legitimate concern for human dignity and justice? Perhaps with the latter quote, Carter is giving an out to those Christians who have no real Prolife candidates to vote for. Or perhaps Carter was expressing similar sentiments as what will be expressed next by this blogpost.
It has been the position of this blog that if we wreck the world by waging war or destroying the environment, and we could add failing to adequately address poverty, then abortion becomes a moot issue. And while Carter's suggestion that those who would allow unborn children to be destroyed in the womb may not be trusted to be concerned with human dignity and justice in other situations needs to be tested on a case by case basis, we should note, and Carter seems to agree, that protecting life in the womb does not imply that one is consistently Prolife. So in the end, Carter's position is superior to Burk's, but the ambiguity expressed in whether a Christian should be allowed to vote for Pro-choice candidates based on other issues needs to be cleared up.
Now if we were to limit ourselves to voting for Presidential candidate's from the two major parties, we should find that, outside of the abortion issue, no available candidates could be properly classified as being consistently Prolife. Certainly the Republican candidates are disqualified by their lack of regard for our environmental problems and direction. In addition, with their criticisms of Barack Obama, their patriotic approach to American foreign policy seems to mean never having to say we're sorry. Combine that with talk of carpet bombing and American "leadership" in the world, the aggressiveness that Republicans seem to be embracing will unnecessarily trigger more wars than the foreign policies proposed by their Democratic Party counterparts.
But the views expressed by the Democratic Party presidential candidates are not much better. Take the positions expressed by the "most progressive" of the two candidates, Senator Bernie Sanders. He viewed our invasion of Iraq is being wrong because of the destabilization it caused. In other words, he views the Iraq War as being a mistake. He didn't apply any moral judgment to that war. This is a similar position to that of Barack Obama when he campaigned for President in 2008. And because of that lack of moral position, I wrote somewhere that Obama would have no problem with waging wars that were not deemed to be mistakes. And what policies did Obama pursued? The overthrow of the Libyan government which required America to work with terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and the expansion of the use of drones to assassinate people regardless of the Middle East nation in which they resided. There is also a possibility that the US was involved with the coup that occurred in Honduras in 2009. There is documentation showing that the US did work to control the aftermath of the coup.
We should further note that the Republican candidates approach the alleviation of poverty by promoting economic freedom for businesses. "Economic freedom" is code for the abolition of social responsibilities for businesses. Such will mean that poverty or near-poverty conditions will at least maintain, if not increase, their current levels. And here we should note how poverty visits injustice on innocent people in a variety of ways.
So the question becomes whether these articles are freeing religiously conservative Christian voters from being single-issue voters so that they should feel free to vote for candidates from the other major party. Burk's article answers that question with a definite 'NO!' Carter's article possibly answers the question with 'yes.' But it's hard to tell.