Favorite

Conservatives don't own moral high ground 

I once heard that the only things necessary to succeed in Arkansas politics were a high school diploma and a certificate from a six-week preaching course. That joke is not so funny now that we are firmly entrenched in a period marked by style over substance and appearance over works. It seems to be enough to win an election in Arkansas by proclaiming to be a conservative Christian, lamenting the loss of schoolsponsored prayer and promising to outlaw abortion. A campaign photo taken in full camouflage while holding a gun also seems to help sway Arkansas voters.

Politics and religion are similar in that we must seek out the small and quiet truths in addition to the broad themes. One truth is that so many of these legislators, especially Republicans, who love to loudly proclaim they are serving Jesus, quietly support policies that do the most harm to our children and families. Clearly there is a disconnect between the average Arkansas voter and the legislative process. Most Arkansans are either too busy or do not know how to check to see how his or her state representative or senator voted on a particular issue. Often I see friends, especially teachers, who are outraged over the decreased funding to services for children and schools, yet continue to support the very GOP candidates who support and propose the cuts.  As long as our state legislators say the right things on the stump about religion, abortion and guns, it seems they get a pass on their actual votes when they get to Little Rock.

This disconnect is further compounded by many of the right-wing evangelical preachers who use the power of the pulpit every Sunday to further intertwine fear, religion and patriotism. I argue that these men are the most powerful men in Arkansas politics, not our legislators. Just last month, the preacher at my hometown congregation posted an article to the church Facebook group claiming that we should not judge Donald Trump for his words and behavior toward women. A few years earlier, he pointed out on Election Day that a particular GOP candidate was a "good man." It does not take a genius to understand that, by these postings, he is encouraging his congregants to vote a particular way. The few who spoke out were quickly made to feel like lesser Christians because of their different political beliefs.

It is time to end this false claim that right-wing evangelicals have the moral high ground. How is it moral for many Republican legislators to argue that our children should be protected from imaginary threats while using the bathroom while causing real harm by refusing to adequately fund our public schools and therapy for special needs children? These same legislators loudly cry they want to end abortion, yet they deny funding for policies that are proven to drive down the abortion rate, such as better access to birth control, paid family leave and affordable daycare.

It is time for the Christians and non-Christians on the left to speak up when we are criticized and made to seem immoral. My liberal friends fight to help families in all sorts of ways, including advocating for better safety nets when a parent becomes unemployed, welcoming refugees with open arms and hearts and fighting to fund early childhood education. It is time for Arkansas evangelical voters to remember that we are to love not in words, but in deeds and truth. It is time for those of us on the left to stop allowing the right to believe they have seized the high ground. We need to fight to take it back or at least be allowed to share the space. WWJD indeed.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Autumn Tolbert

  • Time for a coalition

    While Hurricane Trump wreaks havoc on everything that is good and decent and democratic, another storm in the Democratic Party just won't let up. Many of us hoped the turmoil between Hillary Clinton's supporters and Sen. Bernie Sanders' supporters had finally subsided as both groups rallied together over the past few months to fight draconian changes in health care policy and the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Cotton's plan

    With the amount of recent hand-wringing by the Republican Party, you'd think its members were getting ready to do something. It seems that every week, one or more GOP members of Congress come out with a statement denouncing the words or actions of President Trump or his supporters.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Home is where the hatred is

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center's "Hate Map," a chapter of the Christian American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is headquartered in Hoxie, a small town in Lawrence County that also holds the distinction of being the first battleground of the segregationists in the fight to integrate Arkansas schools.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.
  • The inadequate legacy of Brown

    LRSD continues to abdicate its responsibility to educate poor black students.

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Can't afford to gut ACA

    The Affordable Care Act was passed into law with the promise that it would make insurance affordable. Because of bipartisan leadership in Arkansas, we continue to strive to achieve that goal. While rhetoric abounds, it is important to understand the Arkansas experience.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Tipping point

    I was extremely cautious before engaging in the educational debate about the State Board of Education's decision to take over the Little Rock School District.
    • Sep 14, 2017
  • Left behind

    Arkansas is getting a lot of attention for our very low unemployment rate. If you look only at that number (3.4 percent), you would think workers here were doing quite well — better than surrounding states and even the nation as a whole. But that seemingly simple rate can hide some huge gaps in prosperity.
    • Sep 7, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

S M T W T F S
  1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Here we see a "social scientist" who begins with an ad hominem argument, and then…

    • on September 24, 2017
  • Re: Sex on campus

    • Once again commentators blame the victim. Social scientists, of whom I am one, regularly find…

    • on September 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation