A letter to the editors of The News & Observer today, in response to a Rick Martinez column a couple of weeks ago, helps explain why “disheartened Democrats” don’t understand the motives and makeup of evangelical Christian voters. Rick wrote:
To hear some Democrats explain it, these (Christian) votes were based in hate and prejudice. They just can’t seem to fathom an evangelical Christian casting a vote based on theological conviction instead of fear-induced emotion. This attitude is dangerous, because as long as Democrats insist on equating faith-based principles with intolerance they will continue to lose votes among those who don’t believe that going to church requires checking one’s intellect at the stained-glass door.
In his letter, Richard O’Connor responded:
Martinez wrote that Democrats can’t seem to fathom an evangelical Christian casting a vote based on theological conviction instead of fear-induced emotion. Well, as a registered, disheartened Democrat, I will say I can fathom the heart behind the Christian vote, but not the head.
The last time I checked, this country was governed not by the emotion of the Bible but by the conviction of the Constitution and its ideal that all men are created equal. If reminding people of this ideal constitutes fear-induced emotion, then I guess I am very curious as to why equal rights scare them so much.
The problem, both with O’Connor’s letter and to some degree Rick’s piece, is that Christian Bible-literalists are thought to vote according to ethereal beliefs not grounded in fact, but emotion. Therefore they are accused of casting their common sense aside and voting based on convictions reached based on “faith,” an intangible that requires the heart and not the brain.
The Bible, in Hebrews 11:1-3, bridges this disconnect between faith and objective truth:
1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.
3By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Now, of course, not everyone buys into this, but the fact is that this is how the Bible defines it: faith equals evidence — evidence that God created heaven, earth, and man. Whether you believe it or not, literal Bible believers interpret that if you have faith in God, everything you read in the Bible (historical and teaching-wise) you can consider as objectively true. Thus the head and the heart are connected.
Faith doesn’t throw out what is knowable through scientific evidence, which explains why there is a battle over teaching the theory of evolution without teaching the possibility of creation. Geological study backs up the teaching of the Bible. It is equally a theological conviction and proven through scientific study, and the two are not mutually exclusive.
As for O’Connor’s assertion that the country is governed by the Constitution and not the emotion of the Bible, well, the Bible also teaches that all men are created equal. But they all will be judged (saved or condemned) based on God’s standards, which take into account each man’s actions and whether or not he has received Christ or not. That has no bearing on their status in the world and whether or not other men treated them as equal or not in this life. If men fail to treat each other as equals, that is their failure, and not God’s.