Friday, November 2, 2018

Moral Majority and Vote Common Good are not Moral Equivalents

[The following is a "letter to the editor," published (here) by Baptist News Global on Oc. 30 and is posted here as an "extra" blog article because of the significance of the Nov. 6 election.] 
In his opinion article published Oct. 26 on, Jonathan Frank contends that “today’s Vote Common Good is much like yesterday’s Moral Majority.” Having attended a Vote Common Good “rally” and written a blog article about Vote Common Good, I must say, Sorry, Jonathan, but they’re not the same at all.
Further, having written a book on Christian fundamentalism, I have also spent considerable time seeking to understand the thinking and actions of the late Jerry Falwell, the primary power behind the formation of the Moral Majority. In reviewing Falwell’s activities and pronouncements in 1979 and the years following, again I must declare, Sorry, Jonathan, but the Moral Majority and the Vote Common Good movements are definitely not moral equivalents.
Vote Common Good is focused on one limited goal: flipping the control of Congress in the midterm elections on Nov. 6. This goal is rooted primarily in their strong opposition to the character and policies of President Trump and the almost unanimous support he has received from the Republican-controlled Senate and House.
At the rally I attended, Frank Schaffer declared that he is not trying to make Democrats out of Republicans and he is not saying how people ought to vote in future elections. He is merely emphasizing the critical nature of the current political situation in Washington and the need for there to be some check on the erratic and unchristian statements and policies of the President. That check depends on Congress being “flipped,” and that is what Vote Common Good is seeking to do. It is an ad hoc response to a current crisis in government.
Jonathan asserts that the “clear mission” of Vote Common Good is to “urge Christians to vote for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot.” No, Jonathan, that is not what their declared mission is: it is only to flip Congress – and by that they mean primarily the House of Representatives. The only political candidate mentioned in the Kansas rally I attended was the challenger to Rep. Kevin Yoder in the 3rd District of Kansas.
Jonathan says that Vote Common Good is urging voters to oppose the GOP. Well, yes and no. They are certainly urging voters to oppose the GOP candidates for the House because of the need to have some check on the President. But that is the only GOP opposition that I have heard or read from them.
Jonathan complains the Vote Common Good group is rejecting praiseworthy Representatives such as Kathy McMorris-Rogers of Washington and Ann Wagner of Missouri. Yes, no doubt Rep. McMorris-Rogers and Rep. Wagner have done many good things and are decent people. But they are also quite loyal to President Trump. Consider, for example, their questionable support of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Near the end of his article Jonathan avers that Vote Common Good attempts “to shoehorn faith into the mold of a political party, instead of letting our faith be the mold through which we reach our political decisions.” To the contrary, Vote Common Good speakers such as Schaffer (whom I heard), Tony Campolo, Shane Claiborne, and Brian McLaren are urging people to Vote Common Good because of their Christian faith and their firm commitment to the teachings of Jesus – not because they are Democrats.
These are just some of the reasons for this rebuttal to Jonathan Frank’s article. Today’s Vote Common Good is considerably unlike yesterday’s Moral Majority and it has a message Christians of all stripes need to consider seriously in these days before the midterm elections.


  1. Both seem to be political "Christian" Americanism. In the past I have though highly of leaders in both camps, and read their books. I don't anymore. In the past I have been both a Democrat and a Republican. I don't think highly of either anymore. I've seen and experienced too much. Politically, I'm just an independent cynic now who does not think highly of either. "Common Good" - baloney. "Moral" or "Majority" - baloney. I seriously question Christianity in the United States, in all its forms, but especially politics which they try to make sound "Christian". I think I will vote with my common sense - and that will probably include some Democrats, Republicans, and 3rd Party/independents, but certainly not someone else's "Common Good" or "Moral Majority". This reminds me of CS Lewis' final Chronicle of Narnia, "The Last Battle".

  2. While I am sympathetic to the message from Vote Common Good, I am more in line with Anonymous in that I will evaluate each race. Unfortunately, it will look like I am just voting against the GOP, but that is because so many of the GOP candidates idolize Trump. That means I vote against Josh Hawley and would vote against Kris Kobach if I was in Kansas. Interestingly, Yoder does not pledge allegiance to Trump and he is on the Vote Common Good list, but realistically he likes Trump too much. That is also true of Jacob Turk based on a mailing I received today, but he did not explicitly pledge his allegiance to Trump either.

    I do like finally hearing Christian leaders that have a problem with Trump and are expressing it. It is not easy for social conservatives to give up what Trump could bring, although they already have the Supreme Court so it is easier than it would have been.

  3. The first comments received yesterday were from a Thinking Friend in Arkansas. He wrote,

    "I tend to agree with your assumptions Leroy and was originally registered as a Republican, then switched to Democrat because I liked John Kennedy. Then I changed to Independent so I could be more Independent and Not labeled as either on the Right OR Left.

    "I try to vote as I think JESUS would!"

    1. Thanks for reading and responding to my "extra" blog post yesterday. Yes, by far the most important thing is to vote as a Christian not as a Republican or as a Democrat.

  4. A local Thinking Friend, who is a lifelong Catholic, sent the following comments:

    Thanks. I appreciate knowing what some of the current 'reforming' Protestant leaders are thinking and where they are taking a stand.

    There are some slight indications that some Catholic leaders are moving off "vs abortion uber alles" in their voting and increasing recognition that the 1990s shift to favoring Republicans by Catholics has left them supporting Trumpism, and that younger Hispanics don't think like older Hispanics.

    "Nov. 6 will tell how far the shift back from right to left is occurring."

    1. Yes, conservative Protestant evangelicals have been "credited" with DJT's election and continued support, but conservative Catholics have been for him as well. I think we are seeing a move away from that strong conservative support among both Protestants and Catholics. But as you say, Nov. 6 will be some indication about how much shift there has been.

  5. This is a rather belated response to "Anonymous" and Dennis, who was inclined to agree with Anonymous.

    I want to reiterate that my only desire is to vote responsibly as a Christian and not as the member of a political party. I am in full agreement with my Thinking Friend from Arkansas: "I try to vote as I think JESUS would!"

    Dennis, you said you will try to evaluate each race--and on the local level, or maybe even the state level, that is no problem. But since those in the majority in both houses of Congress have been so united in their support of DJT, there badly needs to be a change in order to bring about more balance--and some check on the President. That is the reason I have been supporting Vote Common Good.

    I cannot agree with saying "baloney" to Vote Common Good--or agree with the idea that they are more political than Christian. I was at the rally in Johnson County and heard what they said: they were not making this bus tour for the sake of the Democrats; they were doing this for the sake of Jesus and the good of the nation. I have no reason to doubt the veracity of what they said.

  6. Leroy, I appreciate your response to Jonathan Frank's article. The link between Common Good and Moral Majority is at best shortsighted and at worst a false equivalency. There is no comparison. I used to vote third party and think that was the "Christian" thing to do, until I was reminded by some friends that that was a privileged position from which to vote which allowed me to keep my conscious while their rights were at risk. I think that an honest vote and a bifurcated prayer of thanks that I get to vote, and repentance, that I did is where I am these days.

    1. Thanks, Drew, for your comments. I, too, when I was an idealistic young man, thought that voting for third party candidates was best--and less "corrupting" than voting for a major party candidate. But I came to understand, as you do now, that that was a questionable, and futile, thing to do.

      I was happy that you agreed with the point of my "letter"--and that the Vote Common Good emphasis was affirmed by the majority of U.S. voters on Tuesday. I don't know how much of the result was because of VCG, but at least they were emphasizing the right thing--and the voters agreed with them on Nov. 6!