Many of us have conservative Christian friends who vote Republican because of "family values" issues. Here's one Christian progressive's attempt to communicate to them about what seems to us to be Wall Street Republicans' very successful manipulation of these folks over the past 30 years.
We may not agree on how to approach the Bible, on same-sex marriage, or the importance of including respect for a woman's rights when considering the difficult issue of abortion, but we have enough in common as followers of Christ that I hope you'll take this in the spirit in which it is offered.
The depth and sincerity of your views is clear. Many of you devote significant amounts of time, talent and treasure to further those causes that you firmly believe are closely connected to your faith. Your zeal has made you objects of hatred and derision among many of your fellow citizens -- even some of your Christian sisters and brothers. Many of you speak passionately about feeling rejected and persecuted because of your beliefs.
The past 30 years have witnessed your becoming more active politically. While many of you come from traditions that once disdained political involvement, that changed in the '70's with the Roe decision and the increasing influence of feminism. You thought you'd found a champion in Ronald Reagan, but the results of his administration were disappointing for Christian conservatives. You blamed a Democratic Congress and vowed to work harder and donate more so that the Republican Party that promised to enact your agenda would control all the branches of government.
You've been very successful in aiding the Republican cause. Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress, and yet your agenda gets nothing more than lip service. It's true that Congress passed and the president signed a bill limiting late-term abortions, but it will never pass constitutional muster. Moderates warned at the time that the bill must include an exception for the mother's health, but the Republican leadership was more interested in gaining political advantage in the upcoming election -- by using this issue to arouse your anger -- than in reducing the number of abortions.
At this year's Republican National Convention, you were shunned. Instead, those who reject all or most of your positions on the issues you care about were the ones who were highlighted. Even the daughters of the president whom you now consider to be your champion mock what you care about, not privately but on national television and with the approval of their mother and father.
Your self-appointed leaders occasionally whine and complain about the Republicans' failure to deliver a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortions or same-sex marriage, but they never do more than threaten a break with the party that doles out influence and money to them and their organizations.
Jesus fully expected that many would claim his mantle in order to manipulate the faithful:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits ... Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.'"
You may not feel comfortable in the Democratic Party, and I am not saying you should. But it is painful to watch you be used over and over again by the kind of haughty, arrogant people whom Jesus would have castigated. Wake up and see what wolves you've been allying yourselves with.
Rev. Allen H. Brill is a Lutheran pastor (ELCA) and member of the bar in South Carolina and co-founder of "Why Not, South Carolina?", an organization supporting the work of South Carolina progressives. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.