For many years, cynics have complained that there was not a “dime’s worth of difference” between the two political parties.
That may have been true in the past, but it isn’t anymore. The differences are profound, particularly on the issues and values that matter to voters who have a Christian worldview.
My purpose isn’t to advocate for one party or the other, but rather to observe policy positions and platforms in relation to matters of faith.
The stark difference can be seen in how the American people themselves are identifying with the two parties. The largest group within the Republican Party is self-identified Christians who regularly attend worship services. One of the fastest growing groups in the Democratic Party is voters who are not affiliated with any religion or who self-identify as agnostics or atheists.
America was built on the idea that liberty comes from God, not government. For most of our history there was a general, bipartisan consensus in support of the freedom of religion in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Today, freedom of religion continues to be a top priority of the Republican Party.
Sadly, in the Democratic Party the commitment to religious liberty appears to have waned. During the Obama-Biden administration, the full weight of the Department of Justice was employed to coerce religious groups to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees. A Catholic anti-poverty group, the Little Sisters of the Poor, found itself a target and was dragged through the federal courts.
After taking office, President Trump reversed that policy, and the Justice Department stopped its prosecutions. Ultimately, the Little Sisters’ freedom of religion prevailed in a Supreme Court victory this past June.
The sanctity of human life is also a defining difference between the two parties. The GOP has demonstrated a commitment to ending the slaughter of innocent human life. States with Republican governors and legislative majorities regularly attempt to pass laws providing legal protections for unborn children. In contrast, states with Democratic legislatures and governors regularly try to further deregulate abortions and permit them for just about any reason. Furthermore, the Democratic Party, including former Vice President Biden, supports forcing the American taxpayer to subsidize abortions.
Recently, Democratic governors in New York, Virginia and other states have even defended the idea that a baby who survives a failed abortion attempt could be legally left to die after being born.
Of course, on issues such as religious liberty and the sanctity of life, the most important battlefield has been in our courts, including the Supreme Court. Here, too, the profound differences between the parties couldn’t be more clear.
When religious liberty cases reach the Supreme Court, Republican-appointed justices usually vote to defend it, while Democrat-appointed justices vote to sacrifice religious liberty to other competing claims.
On the issue of abortion, Democrat-appointed justices consistently support abortion-on-demand, while Republican appointees have generally tried to restore legal protection to unborn children.
In recent decades, Supreme Court nominees sent by Republican presidents to the Senate for confirmation have been vehemently opposed by most Democratic senators, almost always over the issue of abortion.
In the next four years, either a reelected Donald Trump or a newly elected Joe Biden may have additional Supreme Court vacancies to fill, with profound implications for religious liberty and the sanctity of life. President Trump recently released a new list of potential court nominees, and they all have pro-life records.
The economic arena, too, has important differences for Christian voters to consider.
Within the Democratic Party, there is a strong drift toward socialism as its economic philosophy. According to one poll, 76% of self-described Democrats say they would vote for a socialist candidate. Among young Democrats, support for socialism is growing even faster, suggesting that as time passes the party will move even further to the left on this issue.
Socialist Democrats have made a concerted effort to convince Christian voters that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and socialism are compatible. Some have even suggested that Christ’s teachings are socialist. This is a grievous theological error. Socialism and its “parent,” Marxism, are built on the idea that only the material world exists. Christianity is built on the central idea that there is a nonmaterial, spiritual world too. Further, we believe that mankind’s most serious problems are spiritual problems, not material problems.
Christ taught us that as Christians we have an obligation to help the poor, the widow, the sick and all who are in need. Most Christians know the parable of the Good Samaritan. But the Good Samaritan’s kindness was a voluntary act. Nowhere in the Gospel does Jesus call on government to take one person’s resources and give them to another. Yet, that is exactly what socialists advocate—the forcible redistribution of resources. In contrast, the Republican Party advocates freedom of opportunity, believing that by limiting the role of government and keeping taxes low, individuals will have the greatest opportunity to prosper.
Further, democratic socialism is inevitably hostile to religious faith. As a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I monitor religious liberty trends around the world. USCIRF tries to identify those nations that are the worst violators of the fundamental right to seek and worship God.
Year after year, some of the worst violators of religious liberty are socialist/communist countries. Once a country sinks into a godless, Marxist-based system, Christians are persecuted. It happened after the communist revolution in Cuba, and it is happening in Venezuela now. The People’s Republic of China has declared war on all faiths, particularly Christians and Muslims. Even in Europe, everywhere socialism has grown, the church shrinks and Christianity is on the defensive.
Finally, Christian voters need to consider the destructive social trends of the last 30 years and what they tell us about the worldview at the center of the two major political parties.
The American family is under siege, as 40% of children are born into families with no father. While single parents can do a good job alone, research consistently shows that children raised in single-parent homes are at greater risk for a variety of ills, including dropping out of school, truancy and drug use.
The family has been undermined by the leftist-inspired sexual revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. That revolution was a disaster and has resulted in women and children being abandoned and exploited.
Another cultural trend is the erosion of reliable standards of right and wrong. Again, the cultural left pushes a message of moral relativism. The result has been predictable, including increases in crime, violence and corruption. Our founders understood that only a virtuous people can remain free. Leftist Hollywood and popular entertainment send out continual messages that undermine traditional values and mock faith. All of these trends have been pushed by the cultural left that evidently makes its home in the Democratic Party.
Christian voters have a lot at stake in the upcoming elections. Your decision could very well determine whether America remains the “shining city upon a hill” envisioned by our Founding Fathers or goes further down the road of big-government socialism, abortion-on-demand and increasing threats to religious liberty. ©2020 Gary L. Bauer
Gary L. Bauer is president of the educational nonprofit American Values and a commissioner for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.