With the all-important Iowa caucus now in the rear-view mirror, presidential hopefuls are keeping up their efforts to court Christian evangelical voters, as the tone continues to be set for the 2016 race.
Through its daily one-hour “Stand in the Gap Today” radio program, the American Pastors Network (APN,www.americanpastorsnetwork.net) has been following election news closely, and discussing candidates and their stances on the issues important to Christians.
For example, in a report last week, CNN segmented American Christians to help better understand how they are making up their minds for the presidential primaries. “It’s an axiom in American politics, duly repeated every four years,” CNN reported. “Evangelicals are the country’s biggest and most powerful religious voting bloc, especially during the GOP primaries.”
Outlining splits in both the candidates whom evangelicals favor and the principles that will drive their votes, CNN categorized these voters into seven groups: 1) the old guard; 2) institutional evangelicals; 3) entrepreneurial evangelicals; 4) “arm’s length” evangelicals; 5) millennial evangelicals; 6) liberal evangelicals; and 7) and cultural evangelicals.
However, says APN President Sam Rohrer, there is one classification notably absent.
“The one missing but most needed category is that of ‘biblical evangelicals,’” Rohrer said. “This classification of evangelicals bases decisions on the word of God and the Bible’s teachings—and there is no foundation more solid. This eighth category of the ‘biblical evangelical’ should also be reflected by a public narrative, focusing on matters of candidate requirements such as fear of God, the opposition of bribery and corruption, a knowledge of the biblical definition of justice, a commitment to the Rule of Law as defined and embodied in God’s Moral law and our Constitution, and the demonstration of character and integrity. These qualities all stand apart from any determinations of a candidate’s chance to win the election based on pragmatic decisions.
“APN’s pastoral and biblical emphasis hones in on these beliefs and this emphasis,” Rohrer added. “Furthermore, pastors can help guide their congregations by first and foremost encouraging them to vote. Election analysts say that if more evangelical voters visited the polls and voted with their values in 2008 and 2012, the outcome may have been vastly different for our country. We must ensure that in this election, the Christian voice is heard loud and clear.”
Added Gary Dull, APN board member and executive director and vice president of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network (PPN, www.papastors.net), “The division among evangelicals is caused, in part, by a lack of solid voices to represent and lead them. Unity is crucial at this time—and going forward. But the goal is not unity alone. Unity must always be connected to and the result of biblical obedience. For the sake of pastors and the people in the pews, we must help them effectively, wisely and biblically sort through the confusion in order to elect the best leader for our nation, not just the one we think is most ‘electable’ but yet may not contain the solid leadership America desperately needs.”
Rohrer and Dull went on to say that pastors can do several things to help motivate and empower their congregations to speak their minds and stand up for biblical values at the polls:
- Communicate the importance of the faith-driven vote in this election.
- Educate parishioners about the position of the candidates on critical issues through an in-depth Voter Guide, such as the one from AFA Action, a division of the American Family Association.
- Pray about which candidate to choose in the upcoming election.