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  • Writer's pictureScott Colter

FIRST-PERSON: New GOP Platform highlights need for Christians to re-engage in bold defense of biblical values



July 9, 2024


By Scott Colter


This week, the platform committee of the Republican National Committee adopted an updated GOP platform set to be formally approved July 15 at the Republican National Convention.  Some are cheering the new, significantly shorter platform, and others are expressing disappointment in what they see as a watering down of several social issues—chief among them, the sanctity of life.  My social media timeline, emails, and text messages are full of questions from friends, family, colleagues, and a few strangers looking for some direction on where to move from here.  What happens next?  Some religious leaders are publicly signaling their support of this new platform, including a coterie of pro-life advocates, while others are announcing that they will now stay home during the November election. 

 

Several years ago, the sanctity of human life was the primary issue that initiated my participation into politics.  My commitment to this moral position—namely defending the most vulnerable among us and advocating for their protection—remains unchanged.  I believe that this evil practice, which has claimed the lives of nearly 70,000,000 babies, is the most-pressing challenge facing our nation. And yet, come November, America has a binary choice to make. So how will this platform shift affect the decisions that lie ahead?

 

Below are a few streams of thought to contribute to the growing river that is this conversation. 

 

A new platform

 

By all public reports, the new platform was adopted in a rushed and choreographed process that did not allow for adequate discussion, amendment, or questioning.  That is most unfortunate—especially from the party that espouses transparency, due diligence, and process integrity.  In reviewing the entire 16-page platform document—yes, it is a lot longer than the 20 bullet points floating around the internet—several things are worth noting.  The platform reads like a campaign agenda and not the long-standing positions of a political party.  It tracks along with the talking points of one of President Trump’s speeches delivered at a rally, and the frequent use of all caps, additional peppered capitalizations throughout, staccato sentences, and partisan colloquialisms makes a reader wonder if it was typed by Trump himself.  This document was dramatically shortened from the previous versions, written in popular English, and is clearly intended for quick and easy consumption by all Americans.  As the Trump campaign has effectively joined with the Republican National Committee, this document represents that merger and appears to be a campaign promotional piece instead of a historic political foundation. With a smattering of “Trumpisms” scattered throughout, such as “drill, baby, drill,” it is clear this document has a shorter than normal shelf life. There are noted pros and cons to the joining of the RNC to the candidate’s political campaign—and this new platform is certainly an outcome of that conflation. 

 

What the platform says…and what it doesn’t say…

 

Quite a bit was removed from the previous GOP platform to arrive at the current document—exactly 50 pages of content to be exact.  Pro-life advocates have correctly noted that included in that reduction was the previous commitment to a national ban on abortion.  Instead, the current platform states:

 

We proudly stand for families and Life. We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied Life or Liberty without Due Process, and that the States are, therefore, free to pass Laws protecting those Rights. After 51 years, because of us, that power has been given to the States and to a vote of the People. We will oppose Late Term Abortion, while supporting mothers and policies that advance Prenatal Care, access to Birth Control, and IVF (fertility treatments).

 

I certainly desire that statement to be stronger.  I also have a moral and ethical concern with many of the practices in the IVF process.  However, it is false to say that the new platform is devoid of any commitment to life.  It opens with a commitment to life and supplements that by connecting the issue to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.  Personally, I believe that the path forward for sanctity of life efforts will be a judicial route related to the consistent application of the 14th Amendment for the equal protection of all humans.  This platform certainly leaves that pathway open.  We must also remember that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was a seismic disruption to the abortive culture of America.  It dismantled the very foundation of the progressive movement.  It represents a landmark decision for the sanctity of life and allowed opportunity for states to pass individual laws chosen by the people.  President Trump has universally championed this position, which is again recognized in this document.  Up until the overturning of Roe v. Wade, this was the broadly accepted goal of all work to preserve the sanctity of life.  Legislators working to protect the unborn will not be inhibited by this statement and will still be voting in accord with it as they propose and support legislation toward the eradication of abortion in America. 

 

In addition to this statement, the platform takes a strong position on the defense of religious liberty.  Several organizations worked together to secure the inclusion of a statement on the preservation of religious liberty.  It reads:

 

We are the defenders of the First Amendment Right to Religious Liberty. It protects the Right not only to Worship according to the dictates of Conscience, but also to act in accordance with those Beliefs, not just in places of Worship, but in everyday life. Our ranks include men and women from every Faith and Tradition, and we respect the Right of every American to follow his or her deeply held Beliefs. To protect Religious Liberty, Republicans support a new Federal Task Force on Fighting Anti-Christian Bias that will investigate all forms of illegal discrimination, harassment, and persecution against Christians in America. 

 

The remainder of the platform includes strong statements about illegal immigration, which is the source of overwhelming sex slavery (almost always of minors), and drug trafficking.  It addresses the economy, government overreach, out-of-control spending, radical and un-American ideologies being forced on our children, strengthening our military, protecting women in sports, and protecting our children from inappropriate sexual content.  I support each of those elements.  Christians everywhere should as well.  While expressing concerns about what was omitted from the document is necessary and important, it is equally important to recognize the importance of what it does include. 

 

A moving party

 

As the Democratic party sprints to the left on almost every issue, a wide swath of disenchanted moderate voters are left essentially homeless.  Many of those in the historic middle are now finding their place in the Republican party, which has become the party of common sense and general American values.  As the GOP broadens to include these moderate individuals who now find themselves aligning with many of the group’s stated principles, we must be cautious to indeed expand but not to forsake the right side of the party and its historic principles on the sanctity of life, God’s design for gender and marriage, and religious liberty.  The inclination will be—as we are seeing here—to soften on those positions in an effort to draw in the middle, which is a dangerous trajectory.  Republicans are now finding themselves as strange bedfellows with independents and historically moderate Democrats in the line of JFK who have been abandoned by their own party.  Many of these newcomers are apathetic to causes related to life, but the decision must be to educate and bring those constituents around to consistently conservative positions instead of simply dropping those positions off the right edge. 

 

An impending election

 

In a few short months, America will choose her next president from a pool of two individuals.  Neither individual is perfect.  Often it is said that voters must choose the “least of two evils.”  While I understand that sentiment, I instead prefer to say that voters must simply choose the best option before them.  I respect every person who votes according to his conscience.  The vote is a sacred opportunity that must be stewarded well.  For Christians, it is our duty to vote and to vote according to biblical principles.  Indeed, the vote is for much more than a person—it is for a party, for policies, for decisions, for a platform, and for an entire administration and all that entails—and our faith must inform our vote. 

 

We invest our vote similarly to the servant in Scripture who invested his talents well and saw a return on that investment.  He did not squander his talent, but he used it to accomplish the most good.  We, too, must not squander our vote, but must seize the opportunity to use it to bring about the greatest good according to Scripture.

 

One candidate this election is responsible for placing numerous pro-life justices on federal courts across this nation, appointed three Supreme Court Justices who eventually overturned Roe v. Wade, and joined the March for Life as the first sitting president to do so in our nation’s history.  President Trump ran on this promise and fulfilled it.  Many of us voted for him because of that promise and were derided and disparaged widely for doing so by Baptist and evangelical leaders alike.  But the stewardship of those votes paid off and Roe now rests in the ashbin of history. 

 

The alternative candidate represents the party of extreme radicalism, complete abortion access and protection up until the point of birth and even beyond, open borders, the dangerous “transing” of our children, the death of the traditional family, and the acceleration of an economy that is in free fall. 

 

The path forward

 

The new GOP platform has quite a bit in it that is good, and what is missing is certainly concerning.  However, at the end of the day, we all must recognize the fact that the sanctity of life issue in this nation will not be solved by politicians.  Instead, it will be solved by committed and engaged people of faith who act according to their Christian duty and a biblically informed conscience.  Largely, America is in the condition that it is because Christians have sat on the sidelines, following the example of leaders who mocked and derided those who participated in the public processes of our nation.  In the absence of morality and virtue, immorality and evil will fill that void.  Now, Christians who took a seat comfortably on the bleachers and expected the president—any president—to champion the sanctity of life and carry this movement over the finish line are seeing first-hand the error of their ways.  While the life movement is a political matter—it is first and foremost a moral and a biblical issue.  It rests squarely in the realm of the Christian faith under the jurisdiction of pastors, Christian leaders, advocates, and laymen operating from a biblical worldview. 

 

For the entirety of my life, the goal was to see Roe v. Wade overturned.  The stated goal of the anti-abortion movement was for this issue to be returned to the states for adjudication.  The justices appointed by President Trump brought about that outcome.  That decision opened the door for the decisions now to be made by voters and legislators in state and federal bodies.  No person or platform can prevent pastors and faithful Christians from making the case for legislative action prohibiting abortion, and we must now recognize that the opportunity is ripe for Christian leaders to assume this mantle and begin a rigorous education and grassroots advocacy process.  That task is massive, and these current circumstances make it clear that the time is now to step up and lead out in establishing equal protection for every American—those born and those unborn. 

 

In November, I will cast my vote for the candidate who fulfilled the promises he made to those concerned about the sanctity of all life.  I will watch to ensure it is counted in the ballot machine, and then I will get in my car, return to my office, open my laptop, and go right back to work building a coalition that will defend and champion the sanctity of life among other things as we fight for our nation for the sake of our children.  The work is now ours.  We can either armchair quarterback and criticize politicians and platforms that will never solve this issue, or we can roll up our sleeves and get to work leading in this arena—educating, changing minds, mobilizing Christian voters, and advocating for our biblical values. 

 

Want to get involved?  Those of us at The Danbury Institute are working already and are ready to help you lean into these challenges.  We are here to stand with you.  Reach out to us and join this growing coalition for Life and Liberty



 

The Danbury Institute is an issues-based, non-partisan association of churches focused on educating and mobilizing around cultural and public policy issues from a Judeo-Christian perspective. The Danbury Institute does not endorse candidates for public office. The views expressed in first-person opinion pieces are those of the writer and not The Danbury Institute.

 

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