NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Christian conservatives must ignore a nationwide effort to suppress their vote and instead must turn out in November to vote for candidates who will support biblical values, pro-family leaders said at an enthusiastic rally in Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 16.
The “Stand for the Family” rally was sponsored by Focus on the Family Action and held before a near-capacity crowd of approximately 2,700 at Two Rivers Baptist Church that gave the speakers dozens of standing ovations. Previous rallies have taken place in Pittsburgh and Minneapolis.
The rally was held just three weeks before voters in Tennessee and seven other states will go the polls to vote on constitutional marriage amendments. Nationwide, voters will decide which political party controls the House of Representatives and Senate.
“This election will be decided by which side gets their base motivated and gets their base out to vote,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told the crowd. “That is why the liberal media has abandoned any semblance of objectivity … to launch an all-out attack on values voters and on the candidates of values voters to seek to suppress our vote.”
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said there is a concerted effort by some to use the Mark Foley scandal to keep Christian conservatives home on Nov. 7, Election Day. But Dobson said such issues as the sanctity of human life and the direction of the Supreme Court are too important for conservatives not to vote.
“What Mark Foley did was unconscionable. It was terrible,” Dobson said. “… Thankfully he’s gone. But tell me — now that he’s gone, why is it still with us? Why are they still talking about it? Why are they trying to blame somebody for it? It is because they are using that to suppress the values voters.”
Dobson said he was told that additional news about “outed gay” Republicans may come out in coming weeks.
“They’re dribbling this bad news out so that eventually the values voters will get to the place that they say, ‘A pox on both your houses. I’m staying home.’ Folks, we cannot afford to do that,” Dobson said.
Jerry Sutton, pastor of Two Rivers Baptist, said the stakes in the upcoming election are high.
“We’re in a great civil war again today. It’s not a war of bullets and guns but a war of ideas and arguments,” Sutton said. “And it’s every bit as important as the Civil War that our nation fought almost 150 years ago. For us, it’s a war against secularists … who would like to take us back to the immorality of the days of ancient Rome.
“Our goal is to motivate every single believer — everyone who names the name of Jesus — to be involved in the political process…. We will not be silent.”
Dobson pointed to a headline in The New York Times that read, “Gay Marriage Losing Punch as Ballot Issue.” The story asserted that “supporters of same-sex marriage this year are likely to be as mobilized as the opponents.” A recent headline on a Reuters story asserted, “‘Values’ voters fade as factor in U.S. campaign.”
“There are these statements that values voters don’t care this year and they’re going to stay home,” Dobson said. “… For two years [liberals have] been livid over what happened in 2004.
“I’m going to cast my vote anyway. Are you?” he said to a shout of “Yes!” from the crowd.
Dobson mentioned five issues that should motivate Christian conservatives to vote: “gay marriage,” control of the Supreme Court, the sanctity of human life, the legal battle over religious liberty and the war against Islamic militants.
“I am told by people who know far more about it than I do that there are probably two … Supreme Court justices who are hanging on until there is a more liberal Senate so that their seat will not be taken by somebody who is conservative,” Dobson said. “It’s a 5-4 [pro-choice] court right now. One more new justice — if they are conservative — will put Roe v. Wade in jeopardy.”
Dobson said he has never seen the hatred for conservatives that exists in America today. He said he is “being bludgeoned” by some in the media.
“Why now?” he asked. “… It is that they identify me as one of the people that helped turn out the values voters last time. And they’re determined it isn’t ever going to happen again.”
Land said Christians have a biblical responsibility to vote.
“God ordained the government, and in a country like ours where we have the privilege of determining that we’re going to have a government of the people, by the people and for the people, it is a flat-out sin not to vote,” Land said. “You need to be registered to vote. You need to be an informed voter, and when you vote, you need to vote your values. … Your loyalty doesn’t belong to any party…. It belongs to God Almighty.”
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins asked those in attendance to pray for America 10 minutes each day leading up to the election. He also asked those in attendance to call 10 friends or family members and get them to vote.
Ken Hutcherson, a pro-family leader and the pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Wash., said Christians must not be identified with a political party but must vote according to their values.
“I am not a Republican. I am not a Democrat,” he said. “I am a righteous man before God who stands for righteousness…. Because we hold righteousness as our goal, [then] … we have the obligation, the responsibility, the call to make sure unrighteousness is not pushed upon a nation that was founded on God’s Word and His principles.”
In addition to Tennessee, the other states voting on marriage amendments Nov. 7 are Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin. The amendments are aimed at preventing a repeat of what happened in Massachusetts, where the state’s highest court issued a ruling legalizing “gay marriage.” Massachusetts has no marriage amendment.