The article “The Rise of the Christian Left in America” in the publication “The Atlantic” is an interesting article depicting the apparent shift in voting attitudes within the culture of “Christians in the United States”. It gives a variety of data which would lead the reader to the conclusion that Christians, especially the young adult, are turning away from more conservative ideals of the group and focusing more and more on the “feel good” portions of the message of Christianity, that they are focusing on altruistic ideals which will lead to voting attitudes.
While this may be true for many Christians, I would suggest that this article misses one of the main points. Christians have already shown themselves to be of varied opinions and voting attitudes, and have been for years. There is one ideal that they hold to, which is make or break, that they will generally all vote together on, regardless of what any political group offers otherwise.
Freedom to practice their religion.
Freedom to express religion, for Christians of any variety or political leaning, is an issue that ranks right up there with the second amendment for gun owners. It’s a “do not cross” line, which, if social and alternative media is to be believed, is being crossed on a number of fronts.
From the choice of various Islamic friendly individuals to high level appointments to recent rumblings of the potential disciplinary action of soldiers for evangelizing(a topic of major importance within any religion seeking to grow), many Christians now feel that they are “under siege” for their beliefs.
Could this data be used by politicians? Sure. They simply have to continue the same arguments they have been having in the “general public” realm about healthcare and social policies. The side who supports subsidizing healthcare and other social issues will draw the Christian “left” and the side that calls for encouraging charity over legislated mandatory solutions for these things will draw the Christian “right” votes.
This focus will only be effective in terms of drawing separate portions of Christianity as a voting group, however.
To really get Christians, and possibly more importantly, their leadership, behind one side or the other, they have to turn to using religion as the age-old “opiate of the masses”.
One way to do this would be to focus on any assault on the practice of religion by the other side, and claiming that candidates from “our party” are Christians and will not allow any legislation to pass which threatens their constitutional right to practice their religion. Even simply focusing on this desire to protect the right, without pointing to threats, will provide an undercurrent of “We have to protect ourselves”, which will allow any group that uses this wisely to sway voters to their side, in many cases regardless of most other issues.
The politician in question, though, will have to publicly avoid certain discussions, if they have moderate leanings themselves. Conservative Christians will want a person who will “stand strong” on social issues, while moderates and liberals will be willing to make allowances on the social issues, so long as the politician makes a public issue to “really care” about the social issues.
Unified, as a block of voters, Christians are quite a force in politics, and using these methods, easily manipulated into voting for or against a politician, usually with little in the way of valid evidence. Seperated, divided into “left”, “right”, “moderate” and the rest, they can be basically ignored.
It is my opinion that politically, Christian leanings will be marginalized in an effort to appeal more broadly to a wider number of voters. This may be inevitable, in the long run, but in the short run, any appeal to Christianity in areas that are heavily populated by Christians would be wise to consider this “fear/protection” element in their campaigns.