Does the Republican Party own the Christian vote?

Starting today, liberty activist Matt McDonald will be writing semi-regular Sunday articles for Undercover Porcupine discussing topics related to liberty and Christianity.

Here is Matt’s first article!

-Chris

A brief look at the Republican Party, the Liberty Movement and their relationship to American Christians.

By: Matt McDonald

Does the Republican Party own the Christian vote? Or are their other political avenues for those who identify as theologically conservative or Christian? Can one be a good Christian in America and not be involved with the Republican Party? These are all valid questions that I hope to shine some light on in this article.

I think that in order to give this topic proper context we must travel back to the years of my childhood, the 1980s.

Since the early 1980s, thanks to groups like the Moral Majority, Family Research Council, Focus on the Family and the Christian Civic League, there has been this idea that in order to be a devout Christian, one must also be a devout member of the Republican Party. We had folks like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson preaching from their pulpits the very talking points of the GOP. So it’s with no wonder the merger of evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party took place in America.

One of the by-products of this merger was the idea that to vote Democrat is a sin, and to support a candidate that does not belong to one of the two major political parties was the unpardonable sin.

Cue the latter part of 2007. The seeds of a philosophical revolution were starting to grow within the ranks of the Republican Party. This philosophical revolution was being led by a Congressman from Texas and terms like “Austrian economics” and “Non-interventional foreign policy” were starting to become mainstream. Large groups of voters who identify themselves as GOP were beginning to question the talking points of both what they were hearing from the Party and from pulpits.

Many Christians, myself included, during this time woke up to the fact that we had been bamboozled by the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. We had allowed our faith to be co-opted so that our political party could have power.

By late 2011 the revolution going on in the GOP that had started off as seeds in 2007 had grown full bloom. The Texas Congressman who planted the seeds of the revolution was now a name recognized in many homes in America. Many Christians who once lined the coffers of the Moral Majority were now sending their donations to help fund the “Liberty Movement” that this Congressman was leading.

Then came that event during the 2012 Republican National Convention when all the power players in the Republican Party tried to crush the philosophical revolution started by the Texas Congressman. The grassroots backlash was greater than anything the high paid political consultants could have ever dreamed of. Millions of Christians and non Christians alike left the membership of the GOP and took their donations with them. Studies have shown that there were seven million less votes cast for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012 than in 2008.

In 2014 trends are showing that involvement in the Republican Party is dropping, while interest in philosophies like libertarianism are on the rise.

The Texas Congressman who led the philosophical revolution is now retired from the Congress. He has his own online television network and has produced a very good curriculum for those who homeschool their children.

And the once powerful influence of groups like Focus on the Family and the Moral Majority has waned, and because of it many more sermons are being peached from places like the Sermon on the Mountain instead of Republican Party talking points.

Does the GOP own the Christian vote? Yes, but not as much as they used to. Are there other political avenues for those who identify as theologically conservative? Yes, the Libertarian Party, the Modern Whig Party and the Constitutional Party are great alternatives, as well as staying unenrolled and not being involved in any particular political party at all. Can one be a good Christian in America and not be involved with the Republican Party? Absolutely, and in fact many people are realizing that they are becoming better Christians by not being involved with a political party that supports undeclared wars, unethical amounts of taxation and debt and that limits civil liberties.

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Romans 12:18 NIV

Matt McDonald is husband to Linnea, father to James and a Congregational Minister. John Calvin and Tullian Tchividjian are heroes of his. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_McDonald_