"The Iron Room" is a forum featuring analysis from an exciting new panel of CP commentators on areas where the Christian faith and public policy intersect. The name of the new CP political forum is inspired by Proverbs 27:17: "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."
This installment of the "The Iron Room" covers the reasons why people will vote for President Barack Obama or Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. This is the second of a two-part series.
While separation of church and state is a fundamental tenet of our democracy, it is not so easy to divorce our faith from our political engagement, nor should we. For people of faith, the 2012 election presents us with a fundamental choice about the type of nation we want to be.
I grew up in a small town in rural West Virginia where I attended private Christian school from 1st grade through college graduation. Before I ever knocked on a door for a political candidate, as a child I had been canvassing neighborhoods handing out Gospel tracts. I've led worship at my church, taught Sunday school, led young adult Bible studies and gone on overseas evangelism trips.
For some people it might seem counterintuitive that I would end up as president of a progressive political organization like the Young Democrats of America. But the truth is that I support President Obama and Democratic policies because of my faith, not in spite of it.
Scripture teaches us that, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me" (Matthew 25:40). When viewed through the lens of Christ's own words, the contrast between the two candidates for president this year could not be clearer.
Aside from rescuing the economy from the brink of collapse, President Obama's most important legislative achievement was the passage of the Affordable Care Act. This law expands basic health care coverage to more than 32 million Americans who previously had no insurance. This includes children with preexisting conditions, young adults who are between jobs, and other Americans with chronic illness who previously faced lifetime caps on coverage that could lead to bankruptcy or worse. Matthew 25 points to a moral imperative to care for the sick, and as a country we are doing a better job of this than four years ago.
On immigration, the Bible tells us to show care and respect for "strangers in the land" (Deuteronomy 10:19). President Obama has promoted pragmatic and compassionate immigration policies, including support for the DREAM Act that would provide a path to citizenship through higher education or military service for young people who came to America as children. Such legislation would strengthen the diverse fabric of our nation while refusing to punish young people who are in the U.S. through no fault of their own.
The President also recognizes that budgets are a true reflection of our values and priorities as a country. He has supported maintaining nutrition assistance for needy families, unemployment benefits for those who are out of work, Head Start programs for early childhood education, and doubling Pell Grants for students who may not otherwise be able to afford to attend college. The Romney-Ryan plan would slash these important programs in order to pay for additional tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, which runs contrary to the Bible's instructions to "show kindness and mercy" to the poor and oppressed (Zechariah 7:9-10).
We are called to be stewards of God's creation (Genesis 1:26), and President Obama has taken steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mercury pollution, protect water quality, and promote clean, renewable energy. Many Christians also praised President Obama for bringing the Iraq War to a responsible end and for setting a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan. The President also signed into law the new START Treaty moving the world one step closer to nuclear disarmament, and he banned the use of torture by our intelligence agencies.
I would never suggest that one political party or candidate has a foothold on the Christian faith, but a new generation of Evangelicals is coming to a fresh understanding about the role of government and how our faith affects our political involvement. President Obama recognizes that as a society we will be judged on how we care for the 'least of these,' and I am proud to support his reelection as we strive to be a nation that "seeks justice, loves mercy and walks humbly with our God" (Micah 6:8).