Not all Christians are Republicans. Don’t forget it.

In the upcoming months many conservative Christians will speak and write as if all thoughtful Christians support the Republican Party, and will be supporting Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan over President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election. Of course, studies show that the vast majority of regularly worshiping Christians do vote Republican. One of the best indicators of voting preferences is how often a person is in church.

But given that a sizable number of faithful Christians do not vote Republican, I think it is helpful for those who do to understand why their brothers and sisters in Christ disagree with them. The point here is not to affirm one group or the other, although it shouldn’t be hard for those who follow this blog regularly to know who I’m going to be voting for. The point is to contribute to understanding. And for that purpose I found a recent post by Anthony Bradley on the voting habits of African Americans quite helpful.

Bradley writes,

I get asked this question often: “why do blacks tend to vote for democrats when their social commitments tend to be more traditional and conservative?”

Here’s the reason: white conservatives dropped the ball in the 1970s. The black middle-class in the 1970s was built on the following: government jobs (public education, postal workers, etc.), government forced minority contracting (construction, etc.), the Nixon administration using government programs to guarantee loans for black businesses, various affirmative-action programs mandated by government agencies, and so on. This creates a certain type of loyalty.

Who were the most resistent to racial integration in public schools? Answer: white conservatives–many of whom started private schools in the late 60s and early 1970s in quiet protest.

Who were the most resistent to voluntary diversity initiatives in the public and private sectors?” Answer: white conservatives.

Who were the most supportive of Jim Crow? Answer: white conservatives (whether they were democratic party or republican party conservatives).

Who opened up more job opportunities for blacks in the 1970s as told in the social narrative? Answer: the public sector.

These voting trends have more to do with political economy than social mores. Blacks have not had the luxury of choosing presidential candidates who are consistent with their moral values because the economic and liberty issues took priority. Issues and values voting [on themes related to personal sanctity] comes with a certain amount of cultural privilege.

Pay attention to this from the Department of Labor:

Black workers are more likely to be employed in the public sector than are either their white or Hispanic counterparts. In 2011, nearly 20 percent of employed Blacks worked for state, local, or federal government compared to 14.2 percent of Whites and 10.4 percent of Hispanics. Blacks are less likely than Hispanics and nearly as likely as Whites to work in the private sector, not including the self-employed. Few Blacks are self-employed — only 3.8 percent reported being self-employed in 2011 — making them almost half as likely to be self-employed as Whites (7.2 percent).Do you expect blacks to vote themselves out of a job?

You can read the rest of Bradley’s helpful post here. But in the upcoming months, we should all remind ourselves – on a daily basis if necessary – that Christian does not equal Republican, and that the Republican Party is not the Christian party. The unity of Christians transcends party and politics, and that must always be kept in mind.

About Matthew J. Tuininga

Matthew J. Tuininga is the Assistant Professor of Moral Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Posted on August 13, 2012, in African Americans, Black Church, Politics and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Not all Christians are Republicans. Don’t forget it..

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