Liberalism has been under assault for years now. The battering of this grand
political philosophy has altered the contemporary definition of liberal
to the point that Conservatives use it as a profane word. They use it to
paint a political opponent as anti-God and anti-American. It has gotten
to the point that moderate and liberal Christians are afraid to be open
about their political leanings. Sadly, it even affects their conscience
and choices as they enter the voting booth. This is particularly troubling
to me as a Christian evangelical minister who loves America.
Liberalism as defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary:
“a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness
of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance
and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres
I am not sure why anyone would feel threatened by Liberalism as defined
by the dictionary. They are apparently unaware or simply refuse to acknowledge
the long history of liberals who have labored for the betterment of society
and the furthering of God’s Kingdom.
The labor movement of the early twentieth century was aided significantly
when major Christian denominations got behind it. No average American
would have a fair wage today if it weren’t for liberal Christians and
labor activists. Liberal Christians and civil rights activists fought
and still fight against conservative America for racial equality. Child
labor laws were enacted because liberals fought for them. Medicare and
Social Security exist today because of Liberalism. “Bleeding heart liberals”
have long advocated for the homeless, the hungry, the less fortunate,
and the disenfranchised. The women of America owe liberals a big thank
you for their almost equal rights. “Tree hugging liberals” fight for clean
air and water standards instead of favoring industrial polluters and short
term profiteering that destroy God’s green earth.
Liberals believe in affordable health care for all U.S. citizens. They
also believe in higher taxes for the rich and lower taxes for the middle
class and the poor. Liberals love their spouses and children. Liberals
faithfully attend their churches to worship God. Liberals love America
and hate terrorism and have proved it by fighting in every war for this
country. Liberals come in all shapes, sizes, and color. They are found
in the ranks of Protestants, Catholics, Jews, agnostics, and atheists.
Conservative Republican policies generally favor the wealthy and ignore
the needs of the poor. Their policies are so often greed-driven, with
no concern for the environmental or societal consequences for their exploitive
actions. Jesus plainly taught that the love of money is the root of all
evil. So, Christians can go after the various “fruit” of sin in our society,
but they won’t see the real change for the better until the axe is laid
to the root. Christians should oppose greed-driven policies as a primary
point of political concern.
I am sick of reading letters to the editor and editorials that paint
Democrats and liberals as anti-God and anti-American and that portray
conservative Republicans as the only true Christian patriots. We know
that many Democrats are pro-choice and many support gay issues and this
troubles most evangelicals. Democrats also support causes that should
be of Christian concern that go untouched by Republicans. I have listed
some in the above paragraphs. True prophetic vision sees that there is
great need for repentance on the left and the right. The effects of powerful
lobbyists, special interest groups, greed and corruption abound on both
sides of the aisles of Congress. God sees it all and so should Christians.
Christian voters need to see that God’s heart breaks over more than just
a few political and moral issues. It is time to take off our blinders
and mourn for the sorry state of affairs that is American politics.
Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history.
The conservative religious and social structure that He defied hated and
crucified Him. They examined His life and did not like what they saw.
He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the
religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies.
He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath
and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and
other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because
they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners
and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive,
and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists
that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.
The primary issues of Christian Liberalism were birthed when Jesus spoke
the profoundly prophetic words found in Matthew 25: 31-46. These scriptures
reveal God’s heart for the poor, the sick and other neglected people through
out history. Christians should read this text and judge for themselves
which of the two groups mentioned there more accurately reflect the political
parties of today. His Liberalism lives on today and the issues have not
I am glad that conservative Republican candidates advocate for the family
and a few Christian issues, but we must quit pretending that they are
the only ones that Christians should consider voting for. People should
not call themselves pro-life if they are only anti-abortion and yet feel
no twinge of conscience over the unfair application of capital punishment
or wars fought for dubious motives. A true pro-life position cares just
as passionately for the born as the un-born and views war as a last resort
when all other options are exhausted.
Christians should look for candidates that will work for issues that
are of importance to Christ and that can be tackled legislatively. Sadly,
most of those causes have historically been opposed, ignored, and minimized
by conservative Republican policy makers. They seem to dangle the moral
issues carrot around election time. Then, even with a Republican controlled
White House and Congress, prove themselves powerless to do anything about
those issues when they convene to legislate. Issues such as eliminating
poverty and homelessness in America, true equal rights for all citizens,
environmental protection, a fair minimum wage, affordable health care,
and lowering our infant mortality rate all go unattended. That’s just
to name a few.
I have some questions for the Christian Right. Why have you not held
our current elected majority officials accountable for their failure to
address the full spectrum of Christian issues? Why would you vote for
It is time for Christians of conscience to stand up to religious and
political hypocrisy. Christians should proudly proclaim progressive values
today and should advocate for the Christian Liberalism that is our heritage
and our legacy.
Gary Vance (Lezlo2025@wmconnect.com)
lives in Loretto, Tennessee.