I have a question. I mean this as an open question, one for which I have no real answer and would be perfectly happy to hear one.
Why is the Evangelical Church in North America so firmly entrenched on the conservative end of the political and economic spectrum? When I ask “why” I’m not looking for answers that explain this away, I’m looking for a defense of this logic. I know the theoretical reasons why evangelicals generally vote conservative: abortion and gay rights. But these are red herrings, smoke screens, false problems. In Canada at least, these questions have essentially been settled. There are no politicians, no political parties, no government hopefuls, who will make good on a promise to repeal laws legalizing abortion or gay marriage. It’s not going to happen. I’m not defending this, in fact I’m actively anti-abortion, I’m just facing facts. If someone disagrees with my assessment, then by all means correct me. You’re going to need a fair stack of hard evidence, though, because our current government campaigned on a platform of social conservatism and hasn’t done one single thing to change the nature of either of these evangelical hot-button issues.
I suppose what I’m really looking for is a justification from evangelicals for their insistence on voting for and running as economic conservatives. Economic conservatives believe (in an extreme form) in a laissez-fair free market economy. Such right wing thinking is founded upon an individualist ethic. That is to say that in this ethic we are operating on the fundamental assumption that every individual should act in such a way as to protect his/her own interests above all else, and that the consequence of this kind of behavior will be a prosperous and harmonious society. I’m not joking, this is really the foundation of conservative economics. If you ask a Milton Friedman-style economist he/she will propound this very ethical system.
So how the hell did the Church get married to this ethical system? According to all of Scripture and all of Christian history (and I’d say all reason and common sense, but we’ll set those aside for now) individualism is bad. Very bad, in fact. Not just bad or very bad, actually, but downright evil. How did we, the very people of God, get sucked into such a deep association with a system that is, at its very rational foundations, wicked and evil? Again, correct me if you think I’m wrong, but it seems to me that we’ve been co-opted people.
Let me put this as starkly as I can. I won’t be a conservative stooge anymore. I’m against the pillaging of the poor. I’m against unrestricted free markets. I’m against policies that benefit the rich and the super-rich while crushing the middle-class and the poor. I’m against tax-cuts for corporations. I’m against the privatization of essential industries and services like the police, the fire department, hospitals, education and the military. I’m against for-profit wars. I’m against war in principle.
I’m against all of these things and all of their cognates for one reason, and only one reason. I’m a Christian.
So, Mr. Harper, Mr. Bush, you’ve taken something that belongs, not to me, but to God. You’ve taken his Church and co-opted her, deceiving her to gain power in order to execute agendas that run completely and incontrovertibly against her express purpose (Phil. 2 anyone?).
I’d like to say, therefore, on behalf of myself and Christians everywhere, that we’d like to have our Church back now. Please and thank you.