During elections, I’m what polls would label as an evangelical, white male. I grew up Southern Baptist, and I was raised believing that good, true Christians vote Republican. Historically the most important issue for most evangelicals in the United States is abortion, and we struggle to get behind any candidate who doesn’t line up with that one, single, critical stance.
Now well into my 30s, the Republican Party has lost my vote even though I have never valued my religious beliefs as strongly as I do now. So what happened?
I looked at the numbers and realized that I was a pawn in someone’s political conquest. I also started prioritizing other issues well beyond abortion.
One thing that is often mentioned in evangelical circles is a bitterness for President Obama. Although many evangelicals think Obama wants to take their guns, undermine our soldiers, recycle their garbage and turn their country into a socialist welfare state, the No. 1 accusation I hear about President Obama from evangelical Christians is that he hates the unborn due to his pro-choice position.
But what if the numbers pointed toward President Obama being the best thing that’s happened to the unborn since Roe vs. Wade?
Let’s look at four basic facts (all can be easily found and confirmed on the CDC’s website):
1. The number of abortions has gone down every year that Obama has been in office
2. In 2015, the number of abortions was at its lowest point since 1973.
3. There were over 1.4 million abortions in 1990, during George H.W. Bush’s presidency. This was the highest single year in U.S. history in regard to number of abortions. Furthermore, there was a drastic decrease in abortions during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
4. The highest five-year span during our history for the number of abortions was between 1985-1990; which was during the Reagan and Bush administrations. Furthermore, the highest 12-year span was during the Ronald Reagan and Bush presidencies in the 1980s and 1990s.
When viewing these numbers honestly and openly, even the biggest tea-partyin’ person would have to consider if the Republican platform was the best platform if their single voting concern is abortion. What if by offering all women health care for their families and perhaps even financial support in tough times, it gave more women the support that they needed to bring their child into this world? Would my fellow evangelicals look at financial support, equal pay and universal health care differently?
While the statistics were surprising to me, the most shocking thing is how well the Republican Party has historically branded itself. The Republicans have created a product with so much consumer loyalty that their voters feel morally wrong to support any other candidate outside the party. They get elected for their pro-life stance, but they haven’t been held accountable for not following through on that commitment.
You are free to interpret the statistics as you want and you can believe it happens to just be a 43-year reoccurring coincidence, but the numbers aren’t good for the GOP’s pro-life stance every time a Republican has been president since 1973. Even when the GOP holds majority in Congress.
Republicans believe in prioritizing and protecting the life of the unborn. In return, they believe if you do that, abortions will go down. Democrats traditionally believe that if you help all women have a healthier life through better health care, then there will be less of a need for abortions. I truly believe that all people, Democrats and Republicans, want to see fewer abortions taking place each year.
If you want to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, go for it. Like many, I’m not a fan of either. But I encourage you to research the statistics behind policies because historically only one platform has proven to reduce the number of abortions. And if that is the case, I encourage you to not let this election be about one single issue that has been blatantly and historically misrepresented by the Republican Party.
If we could all get to that point where we aren’t allowing ourselves to be held hostage by a political party, perhaps we could spend more of our energy (and our votes) standing up for other Biblical commandments. You know … things like serving all communities in need, fighting for equal rights for all people and finally acknowledging the fact that as believers in a Creator – perhaps it is time we start caring for His creation (the world) a little better.
I long for the day that caring about these other things doesn’t automatically label me as a liberal socialist when I’m among my Republican friends.
Andrew Brown is a husband of eight years and a father of one. His family lives in Raleigh.