‘Values voters’ call for congressional action

The Washington Times Julia Duin March 28, 2006

A summit of evangelical Christians and conservative Catholic and Jewish activists yesterday produced a “Values Voters’ Contract with Congress,” an outline of what the religiously minded expect their elected representatives to bring about in the near future.

Modeled after the Republican Party’s 1994 “Contract with America,” the “Values Voters’ Contract” stipulated 10 aims, ranging from legislation to keep the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance to laws guaranteeing greater religious freedoms in the workplace, prohibiting human cloning and embryo research, and guaranteeing a “right to life” to all children before birth.

“It’s time for the values voters to tell the government what we expect of them,” said the Rev. Rick Scarborough, founder of the Lufkin, Texas-based Vision America, which organized the summit. “This contract tells Congress they can count on our vote if these things become front-burner issues.”

. . . more

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17 thoughts on “‘Values voters’ call for congressional action”

  1. To claim that these 10 requests are the MOST important issues to anyone in America with “values” is truly horrifying.

    Being able to openly practice one’s religion is a right which no one should be able to infringe upon. One must not forget, however, that keeping the words “God” in various places in American culture is not the essence of faith. One must absolutely be able to have one’s own religion, but to strive for that at the neglect of advocating for a great deal of needs of those less fortunate that one’s self is missing the point. Faith without works is dead.

    Believing in the right to life should not be held only for those unborn. It should also go towards increasing the resources and aid for women who are economically in need but not wanting to have an abortion. It should include a movement towards a society without judgement and condemnation towards those women.

    Respect for life must include support and defense for those threatened by capital punishment. Protection of life must include an increase of focus on prevention of violent conflict and increased preparation for those in the military to use violence only when necessary in battle and to retain respect for human life. It must include the phsychological, financial, and spiritual support of those in the military as well.

    Support for life must include having a real problem with having hours upon hours of coverage last year in the media about that poor girl in Aruba, but less than two minutes of coverage in the media TOTAL about the horrors going on in the darfur.

    To be concerned of having an environement free from obsenity is one’s own choosing and is certainly respectable. To lack concern for the continuously degenerating health of good earth that God created is shameful.

    There are more issues that I have with this article but with time constraints I will need to end here, with one more consideration. The Bible mentions personal sexual morality afew times. It mentions caring for others literally thousands of times. To not even mention to state of the poor and needy in this “values” contract reveals expremely unblanced priorites.

  2. Horrifying? It’s a strong word but I’m reasonably certain this is not what you really mean. I think what you are trying to express is that you strongly disagree with the 10 points.

    In any case, the 10 points deal more with the hot button issues in the public debates about the culture war and do not function as any kind of comprehensive statement. Further, some of the characterizations aren’t accurate. Public awareness of the carnage in Darfur for example, arose because of the work of the religious right.

    At the same time, the response is constructed in the way where a specific point is challenged by open-ended declarations. It shows us what you don’t like, but it doesn’t say anything about why you don’t like it.

    Put another way, some of your points seem good (on the surface anyway), but you are not clear about what you really believe about them. Take environmentalism for example. You offer it as counterpoint to the profaning of the public culture (a technique that does not really work because the ideas are essentially unrelated), yet no hint is given about what you consider responsible environmentalism to be.

  3. What I don’t get about statements like the first post – who said that no one was interested in helping pregnant women? Of course the Evangelical groups want to help pregnant women, that doesn’t take away from their desire to protect the unborn.

    These 10 points are not all-inclusive. That is like the old Protestant criticism of the Nicene Creed. Protestants have often said, “No Creed can express the fullness of God.” No, one creed can’t. But a Creed can be a fundamental expression of faith. That is what this list is, a fundamental wish list.

    I have grave doubts about a lot of the Religious Right’s agenda, and its willingness to be co-opted. However, that does not mean I part company on many of the common issues such as abortion. It is not necessary to constantly berate them, even when they are doing the right thing. If you’d like them to go farther in some areas, then that is certainly a good thing to point out. But why attack them over things which are obviously Christian such as protect for the unborn?

  4. Note 1, Sarah J, is not the only one “horrified”

    Being able to openly practice one’s religion is a right which no one should be able to infringe upon. One must not forget, however, that keeping the words “God” in various places in American culture is not the essence of faith. One must absolutely be able to have one’s own religion, but to strive for that at the neglect of advocating for a great deal of needs of those less fortunate that one’s self is missing the point. Faith without works is dead.

    I am all for religious freedom but I insist on limits. Our current constitutional scheme protects thought and speech but it does not give blanket approval to any and all religious practices. Our laws may constitutoinally forbid the ritual slaughter of animals which is deemed cruel, as is the case in Jewish and Islamic animal slaughter. Our laws may criminalize wife-beating which is authorized in the Koran. Our laws may criminalize polygamy which is promoted by Islam and was openly promoted by Mormons. Think twice before you give carte blanche to “religion.”

    Believing in the right to life should not be held only for those unborn. It should also go towards increasing the resources and aid for women who are economically in need but not wanting to have an abortion. It should include a movement towards a society without judgement and condemnation towards those women.

    If I am poverty stricken but I know of someone who has named me as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy, am I less morally culpable if I kill them for the proceeds? I doubt you would think so. You would state that my economic condition has nothing to do with the sinfulness of murder.

    I personally am not willing to carve out an exception to the santity of life if the unborn is unfortunate enough to be the child of a poor woman. Unlike the murderer who you have cast as a victim, the unborn did nothing wrong and did not receive a fair trial at public expense.

    Respect for life must include support and defense for those threatened by capital punishment. Protection of life must include an increase of focus on prevention of violent conflict and increased preparation for those in the military to use violence only when necessary in battle and to retain respect for human life. It must include the phsychological, financial, and spiritual support of those in the military as well.

    I am not sure where I stand on capital punishment, but, I will never treat murderers as victims. There is a moral difference between an innocent unborn child and a convicted murderder. Given that Sarah is into being “inclusive” perhaps she should invest some outrage into the disrespect and neglect imposed upon victims of crime. Today, in America, we have NO PUBLIC PROGRAM, that serves the victims of crime. There is no public program that assists the survivors of vicious criminal attacks in getting back on their feet. We totally negect this class of innocent people. So Sarah, when society takes care of the unborn and the innocent victims of crime, then I will find time to cry for murderers on death row.

    Support for life must include having a real problem with having hours upon hours of coverage last year in the media about that poor girl in Aruba, but less than two minutes of coverage in the media TOTAL about the horrors going on in the darfur.

    Sarah, as noted by someone else, it was the Protestant Christian right that lead the campaign to bring Darfur to the world’s attention. They deserve credit for that. As to the news coverage on the cable stations, you need to address that to the cable stations, not the clery in this article.

    To be concerned of having an environement free from obsenity is one’s own choosing and is certainly respectable. To lack concern for the continuously degenerating health of good earth that God created is shameful.

    I think that many religious people are vearing close to idolatry of the “the Earth.” The Earth exists to serve humankind, not the other way around.It is unethical and sinful I think to intentionally leave poisonous toxins in the soil, air or water. This is unethcial or sinful because it hurts HUMAN BEINGS. A single human being is worth more than any animal species, or feature of the natural environment. I don’t know of an Biblical injuction to “protect the Earth.” as such.

    I think Christians must be on guard agains the intrusion of pagan Earth worship in their stance on environmental issues.

  5. Note 3. Glen wrote:

    What I don’t get about statements like the first post – who said that no one was interested in helping pregnant women? Of course the Evangelical groups want to help pregnant women, that doesn’t take away from their desire to protect the unborn.

    Care centers for pregnant women are run almost exclusively by the Evangelicals, Catholics, Orthodox (Zoe for Life), and other Christians. You would be hard pressed to find any kind of help for a woman in a problem pregnancy from the liberal side of the aisle. For pro-choicers, “Planned Parenthood” constitutes the most help (if we can call it that) a pregnant woman will get.

  6. Note 5, The logic behind the charge that pro-life groups don’t care about pregnant women with unwanted pregnancies.

    Fr. Jacobse, you are, of course, totally correct in your observation that it is Evangelical, Catholic and Orthodox groups who provide real assistance to unwed mothers during the course of their pregnancy.

    The logic of the charge of the “uncaring pro-lifers” is the unstated assumption that pro-lifers also oppose generous welfare benefits to poor women, so, the “logic” goes, they don’t care about the pregnant women’s welfare.

    Of course, under the logic of the Left, the only “caring” that counts, that registers, is the type of caring that comes from a secular government program of entitlements. Private aid never counts with the Left, hence, the pro-lifers are “uncaring.”

    You could also point out the logic that many Catholics support generous welfare entitlements and that Orthodox and Evangelicals are not intellectual automons who see all poltical and social issues the same way.

  7. Missourian, you are absolutely correct that we Christians must guard against a neo-paganism with regard to the environment, but we do have a Biblical injunction to dress and keep the Earth, that is to say to care and protect it for our use and those who come after. Romans 1 also makes it quite clear that that as we progress in the path of theosis, the Earth will benefit. There is a genuine correlation between the state of the Earth and our sinfulness. On the other side of the coin we must also guard against the temptation toward the capitalization of nature which sees the physical world as simply one more capital input into the economy to be exploited any way we like. The physical world is created by God and still has the capability to reveal Him. We need to be genuine stewards of what God has given us.

    To the extent that consumerism harms the Earth, as it does, we Christians need to be concerned. Christianity, at least Orthodox Christianity is fundamentally ascetic in nature and requires of us at least the attempt to live with only what we need, not try for everything we want. How that translates into a person’s life is a matter of discernment that is not easy.

  8. Capital Punishment

    I do know how I feel: While it is acceptable from a theoretical sense since the state has the authority over life and death, from a practical stand point there are a great many problems. It is virtually impossible to administer in a just and fair way. The fact is that the threat of capital punishment falls most heavily upon those who are poor and therefore least able to provide an adequate defense even if they are innocent. Consequently, I think we should abandon capital punishment. If we do decide to retain it in any form it should be reserved only for the most heinous of crimes. In addition, the standard of proof to be put to death ought to be even higher than reasonable doubt and the state should be required to throughly investigate any possible evidence that would clear the accused of the charge.

  9. Missourian, how about the unwillingness of so many law enforcement agencies to really protect the victims of child abuse especially incest from the perpetrators?

  10. Michael I would add state legislators unwilling to pass laws for harsher punishment for child molestors.

  11. The fact is that the threat of capital punishment falls most heavily upon those who are poor and therefore least able to provide an adequate defense even if they are innocent.

    I hear this allot, but I wonder if the fact that they are “poor” or otherwise mal-adjusted is not related to their willingness to commit heinous violent crimes. You just don’t see that many middle class white collar workers holding up convenient stores and shooting the kid behind the counter. Also, what is an “adequate defense”? Seems like we (i.e. well adjusted tax payers 😉 provide an extraordinary defense to these “poor” people to me. What’s the average time spent on death row while the supposed “inadequate” defense drags on year after year, review after review?

  12. You can at least have an attorney who doesn’t fall asleep during the trial, actually investigates alibi witnesses and generally acts as if he/she cares.

    I rather think that the millionaire in Texas who dismembered a friend, stuck the body parts in a garbage bag and tried to dispose of it would not have been set free if he hadn’t been a millionaire, do you?

    Yes, rich people are less apt to commit violent crimes, they have other ways of obtaining what they want.

  13. Note 7, Reference?

    Michael, this is a respectful question. Could you note in more detail any references your were thinking of in note 7? If it isn’t too much trouble, that is.

    Romans Chapter 1 makes reference to the error of worshipping the creatures rather than the Creator. This remains a sin even though you could view many of God’s creatures as marvels in some respects.

    Wouldn’t that parallel to an sin of worshipping a created thing, the Earth, even a truly marvelous and wonderful created thing, rather than the Creator?

  14. Note 7, Environmentalism embedded in law

    In the United States, environmentalism is deeply embedded in our laws. We have the EPA which administers laws designed to protect water, soil and air. There has been a terrific improvment in air quality since the passage of the air quality actsi n the 1970s. The power industry has invested billions in cleaning up power production, to the point where NEWLY CONSTRUCTED coal plants are quite clean and non-polluting.

    Can more be done? Sure, but for the most part, pollution which affects the health of humans or which contaminates a valuable natural resources is generally agreed by the American people to be illegal and immoral.

    Global warming remains far more controversial because of the interplay of politics in the issues and because of the very long list of variables that can affect changes in temperature of the Earth in various places. A number of very reputable scientists are pointing out that the energy sent to Earth by the Sun is NOT CONSTANT and that it varies in very long cycles. We may be entering a cycle in which the energy reaching the Earth from the Sun is increasing. This is something over which we have no control.

    Unfortunately, the legitimate scientific and public policy debate about global warming has been almost irredeemably tained by politics casting doubt on nearly any speaker or writer on the topic.

  15. Note 12, Michael, what is your source of information about public defenders?

    The states I practice in spend a greal deal of money defending criminal defendants. Both states have professional public defenders that specialize in major felony cases. Both states have professional public defeners that specialize in complex appeals. Both states require all attorneys to donate time to cases involving children in need of care and neglected children.

    Aint’ perfect, but, very few people charged with major crimes fail to get good representation.

    This information is drawn from decades of going to the Courthouse everyday and intimate knowledge of how prosecutors offices work and how defense attorneys operate. What is the foundation of your implication that criminal defendants are poorly represented?

  16. Note 12, Correlation between fatherlessness and serious crime is higher than the correlation between poverty and serious crime.

    Two third of all black boys grow up in homes with a father. Two thirds of all black boys lack a good example of a successful male adult. These young men are submerged in a violent subculture and taught by the popular culture to admire gansters.

    Most of the men in prison grew up in dysfunctional broken homes. No good father figure to teach a young man how to be a productive and successful adult male.

    The black crime rate is 9 times that of the white crime rate. Most crimes committed against black victims are perpetrated by black perpetrators.

    Povery, yes, is important, but inadequate socialization explains more.

  17. Death penalty by race, blacks commit more murders but are sentenced to death less often.

    Source:http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/race.htm

    Offenders:
    Blacks were 7 times more likely than whites to commit homicide in 2002

    VictimsBlacks were 6 times more likely than whites to be victims of homicide

    Victim/Offender Relationship
    Most murders are intra-racial

    Percentage of All Homicide Offenders who are Black
    Between 1976 and 2003 about 53% of all homicide offenders were black

    Source:http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/cp.htm

    Whites are disproportinately represented in death row
    Of persons under sentence of death in 2004:
    — 1,850 were white (56%)
    — 1,390 were black (42%)
    — 28 were American Indian
    — 32 were Asian

    So blacks represent about 15% of the population but commit 53% of all homicides, but they constitute only 42% of persons under sentence of death. So American criminal courts are more likely to sentence a white homicide offender to death than a black homicide offender.

    Note, all these numbers debunk some of the standard assumptions about racial inequality in the Courts

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