I must confess that my politics are thoroughly partisan. For better or worse, America is a two-party system. Recognizing this to be true, I’ve cast my lot with the party that best represents my values – even if it doesn’t do so perfectly. I do believe, however, that our politics has become unnecessarily polarized, so polarized that little gets done in Washington, in our state capitols, and even in our local communities. I also don’t think states are either red or blue, but that in reality they are quite purple. And while our religious communities might have a predominance of one party or the other, they too are rather purple.
We are independent voters, neither Republican red nor Democratic blue. Many of us are people of faith who are tired of partisanship in the church. We believe that together we can bring about radical reform by avoiding partisan politics and finding creative solutions to our nation’s many problems. Starting now.
With a statement like that right on the cover, the reader should have a good sense of the author’s perspective. Then I looked at the name of the publisher – Tyndale House – and since this is normally a conservative Christian publisher that got me to wondering about the author’s perspective as well. How really independent is she?
Marcia Ford is a journalist, author, and evangelical Christian, who by her own admission had not been particularly interested in politics until it started cropping up in church. She describes herself as the kind of voter who votes for the candidate and not the party, but she also declares herself to be politically independent – by registration. In doing that she represents a growing trend among voters, as much as one third of voters, especially among the young. It is part of a broader trend in society, which in religious circles is seen in the demise of the denomination. Ford’s book is first of all an extended argument for giving more space to independents and third parties in our political realm. She doesn’t leave things there, however, for she believes that political independence is superior to partisanship. She wants to open things up, so that those who feel left out can have a voice. In doing so, she wants to make it clear that being politically independent isn’t the same thing as being undecided, nor does it means she is declining to state. She isn’t undecided, nor is she declining to state. She is an independent who will vote her conscience.
I understand all the arguments for requiring identification – I really do. I can hear some of them in my head right now. But the insistence on these requirements certainly does point to a pattern of voter suppression rather than voter fraud. I mean, come on. I think if someone wants to overthrow the government and undermine our democracy they’re probably not going to do it by voting. However, if “certain elements” of our government have figured out that encouraging minorities, the poor, and the elderly to vote would give the opposition party an advantage, they’re probably going to engage in some pretty underhanded efforts to suppress the vote. (pp.
What’s driving them away is that the focal point of many worship services has shifted from God to government. Even if members are in complete agreement with the leadership of the church on the cultural and moral issues of the day, they’re forced to sit through sermon after sermon on reclaiming America for Jesus. Any pastor worth his salt will, of course, provide a biblical basis for h is political views. But that’s not enough; every Sunday morning too many people across the country leave their churches without truly worshiping God. (pp. 128-129).
Mainline denominational churches go on the partisan bandwagon much later and much more slowly. Once they realized how much political ground they had ceded to the Religious Right, though they began making up for lost time. (p. 131).