I am going to say something controversial, “Republicans can’t be Christians.”
To the vast majority of Christians, I just said something unthinkable, especially if one is of the evangelical stripe of Christianity. I can feel the anger swelling up in some readers as they instantly find this notion absolutely ridiculous.
The truth is that this is a ridiculous claim. Of course, Republicans can be Christians.
It is just as ridiculous when people claim that Christians can’t be Democrats. But, this is something that devoted Christians who are vocal about their more democratic positions hear all the time. It is not at all uncommon, for someone like me, to get a private message or public comment where a concerned Christian Republican questions how these two convictions are compatible. They may even just claim, matter of factly, that they are not compatible.
Democrats Hate God
During the last presidential election, Matt Walsh published an article in which he flatly argues that being a staunch Democrat “requires that you fundamentally reject the authority of Christ.” He argues that holding democratic loyalty means “disbelieving and condemning some of [Jesus’] most important teachings and some of the most essential lessons of Scripture.” Walsh furthers his point, “The question is this: Can you believe that Christ is Lord and that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God and also believe that Christ was, in some cases, a liar or a fool, and that the inspired Word of God needs to be trimmed and updated?”
He further calls the Democratic party “a party that is so single-mindedly dedicated to undermining [Christianity].”
Walsh focuses his argument on a few hot-button issues, namely homosexuality and abortion. He entirely defines the Democratic party through the lens of those two issues.
It is not my intent to argue those issues here.
Republicans sin like Sodom
But, I do believe there is a problem when the major themes of our politics are, at best, minor themes of Scripture.
I could define the Republican Party entirely through the lens of greed and caring for the “Least of These.” Now, I acknowledge that this would be an injustice to the Republican Party. But, no more so than how Walsh defined the Democratic Party.
If we look at the Republican Party through these Biblical lenses the Republican Party is anti-Christian, anti-Christ. Christ said, that what we do to the least of these we do to him. In fact, Jesus said to persons who did not care for those in need, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” (Matthew 25:41-43)
Bound for Hell
Those who do not care for those in need are cursed to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels! That is some serious stuff! And, this isn’t just seven verses. Scripture is replete with instructions and admonitions on this subject. In fact, Ezekiel speaks of Sodom in the following way, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Ezekiel’s primary concern about Sodom is that they did not care for the needy!
One could easily apply Matt Walsh’s logic to argue that one cannot be a Republican and a Christian because the Republican platform neglects this central teaching of scripture. A teaching that Christ warns we neglect at the peril of our very eternal destiny.
My point is not that being a Republican is incompatible with Christianity. My point is simply that things are more complicated than that. While we should probably consider that scripture speaks about homosexuality 6-7 times and the proper use of wealth and caring for the poor over 500 times. But, the moral calculus isn’t as simple as saying 500 is more than 7. Nor is my point to argue the hypocrisy or bigotry of Matt Walsh, though maybe we should consider those issues.
Question Your Assumptions
What I am interested in is people questioning their assumptions to seek the heart of God. It is so common in the evangelical world to think of the Republican Party as the Christian Party and the Democratic Party as something else. This is still true even in the age of Trump when the admonition in Micah 6:8 to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly is irreconcilable with the leadership of the Republican Party.
For me to claim that Republicans can’t be Christians is ridiculous! But, it is also ridiculous for Matt Walsh to say that Christians can’t be Democrats or for authors to write books with titles like Why Democrats Can’t Be Christians or Why Christians Don’t Vote for Democrats.
It is reasonable to argue that the platform of one party adheres better to Christain values than the other. Reasonable people can come to different conclusions on that. But, neither party is all good nor all bad. Neither party is Christian.
You can be a Christian and a Democrat. You can be a Christian and a Republican.
This essay is from our Anastasis Series where we resurrect articles from the past that are either still relevant today. This piece was first published on March 20, 2020, and has been lightly edited and updated.