The Humbling Call of a “Moral” Victory

I was up until 2AM watching the saga of Ohio unfold–hoping we would avoid another “Florida” in Ohio. Ohio was not Florida in the same way Iraq is not Viet Nam.

By 8:30 AM Pacific Time (11AM Eastern) Senator Kerry placed his call to congratulate a re-elected President Bush, the country reacted with a collective sigh of relief, and a bloodied, beaten, democracy raised a flag signaling peaceful transition.

Today’s polls show “moral” issues were a deciding factor and were linked to Iraq as President Bush was perceived as a man of character who will keep his word. With shifts in the Senate and House, and a re-elected President, Republicans and conservatives have an opportunity to broaden the definition of “moral issues;” they must do it because it is right.

Some conservative Christians have narrowed definitions of “moral issues” to sexual ones (gay rights and abortion) or overtly religious ones ( “under God in the Pledge, Ten Commandments in the Public Square.).

I pray that all people of faith will seize this moment and pray for more depth and nuance in the Bush White House understanding of and approach to moral issues. Judeo-Christian traditions reveal God as concerned about justice for the poor, a mandate to manage the environment well, a deep concern for the powerless as well as a concern for sexual purity. War and the economy are moral issues to God and should be for us.

Because conservative Christians received something of a mandate in this election, they have been given a new responsibility to move from the role of feisty, shrewd underdog, exploiter of traditional electoral divisions, to the new and important role of peacemakers and advocates for a deeper personal faith that enriches more than divides culture in public policy.

There was a time when Democrats could rally behind Martin Luther King Jr. as he quoted the Old Testament Prophets. In “The Culture of Disbelief,” Stephen Carter rightly observes that Democrats lost their moral authority when they abandoned the defenseless unborn.

Religious conservatives and Republicans risk the same fate if they lose moral authority by narrowing biblical understandings of “moral issues” and ignoring the broader ¢â‚¬Ëœmoral issues” of the living God.

Some people may think my selection of a photograph of Jesus weeping means I think Jesus wanted Kerry to win and is disappointed with the election results. The truth is Jesus’ concerns transcend our partisan political process and as followers of Jesus ours should too.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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