Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Evangelical Democrat Running for Govenor in Miss.

“I am a Democrat because I am a Christian.” – John Eaves

But of course, this simply begs the questions, "What does is mean to be a Democrat? What does it mean to be a Christian politician."

John Arthur Eaves Jr. "gave his life to Christ at age 8 and walked where Jesus did at age 9. Thirty-years later, he stood on the banks of the Jordan River as three of his own sons professed faith and were baptized. His wife's name is Angel. He is pro-life, pro-prayer, pro-Bible literacy and pro-guns. He's a Southern Baptist running for office." He also wants "to raise teacher salaries, reduce class sizes, and provide our schools with the resources they need... cut the tax on groceries...make sure every child in the state has healthcare...fight against the moneychangers of big oil."

Regardless of what I think of John Eaves and his platform, I am always pleased when peoples' expectations are shaken. Candidates like this make people re-examine their stereotypes and the labels they use to define themselves and the ideologies they support and oppose.

Quotations are from John Eaves campaign site: http://www.eaves2007.com/

An interesting article about the political fallout of his campaign can be found in the Washington Post


Heretic said...

"Candidates like this make people re-examine their stereotypes and the labels they use to define themselves and the ideologies they support and oppose."

How does John Eaves' campaign do this?

When I read his campaign website, it doesn't seem to do so for me. He casts himself as 'walking in the footsteps of Jesus at age 9' and is running on a campaign of 'throwing out the moneychangers.' I am always concerned when such overt relationships are made between faith and politics because it casts all opposition not as just opposing politics, but the faith itself. To me, this can have the effect of stifling dissent, which is important to see all sides of the issue, not just the ones we want to see.

He says he wants to throw out the 'moneychangers of big oil.' I think he takes a simplistic approach by placing all of the blame on the oil companies rather than on other geopolitical factors such as available supply from exporting nations, regional politics, increasing cost of extraction, and the natural hoarding behavior which exacerbates shortages. The price rose so severely during Katrina because the fear of being short of fuel caused people to stockpile it, which drained the supply at a faster than normal rate. The greater the fear of shortage, the greater the price increase caused by hoarding behavior. This is something that we do to ourselves, but it's far easier to blame others than to blame ourselves. Nowhere do I see anything about not pointing out the speck in another's eye when there is a log in our own. This is not as palatable to the electorate.

Where is talk about changing our lifestyle to reduce dependency on these companies? Where is talk of public transit: improving train and bus service between cities? Of minimizing oil consumption through promotion of local networks of crop production and consumption? Where is talk of reorganizing communities and neighborhoods relationships so that we are not so dependent on our oil-burning cars? Walkable neighborhoods are the simplest way to cut oil consumption. Where is the reality?

Unfortunately, as John Eaves has cast himself, I might be persecuted if he were to get elected as I might be questioning Jesus himself.

In my understanding, Jesus was angered at the moneychangers because they were profiting from the church and getting in the way of worship of God. They were using God for their own economic advantage. Is John Eaves' campaign any different? Is his campaign pointing out the speck in others' eye while failing to see the log in our own?

Ben Colahan said...

Howdy Heretic,
I very much agree with you that there is a grave danger in combining politics and faith for the reasons that you mention. I think you have made extremely observant point in comparing John Eaves's use of religion for his own gain and that of the moneychangers which Jesus berated.

The purpose of this post was not to endorse John Eaves, but instead ask how such a candidate makes people reconsider such labels as "Democrat," "Republican," and "evangelical politician." John Eaves opposes women having the right to choose an abortion and homosexuals having the right to get married. I know many people who consider these issue to be central to the Democratic party. So can John Eaves really call himself a Democrat, or is there something else that makes a politician a "Democrat?" At the same time, I know many "born again" Christians who feel that it is not the government's place to be responsible for charity, instead, they think that this is something that should be left to churches. However, John Eaves, a self proclaimed born again Christian, is running on a platform that calls for direct government intervention for raising teachers' salaries, and taking money from wealthy corporations and giving it to the poor. So is John Eaves really a "born again" Christian politician?

I very much appreciate the points you made in your comment; I just want to make clear that what I'm trying to do with this post is not to endorse John Eaves, but instead use him to interrogate the meaning we assign to labels.

Ben Colahan said...

Just out of curiosity, what makes you a "heretic?"

heretic said...

Regardless of his views, John Eaves is indeed a "born again Christian" because he seems to believe that faith is just a matter of people deciding to declare themselves Christians. It's hard to decide where he fits in the party scheme. I am reminded of Stephen Colbert's new book, I am America and so can you. Members of the Republican Party often point their fingers at the poor and say to themselves, look at these poor people who won't decide to help themselves. They think to themselves as they drive later model cars that it is the fault of the poor that they are so poor. I tend to think that a higher percentage of Democrats might look at the same group and ask themselves how they themselves could at least make the lives of the poor at least a little more bearable and vote against throwing away the social ladders out of poverty which the poor might be able to use at a later time.

The marks of the ideal Democratic party are compassion and a reality based on careful thought. There need not be an escalator for people at the bottom, but there should at least be a ladder.

I, too, wonder where John Eaves fits. Evangelical Christians do want to make a complete cut of the government-provided ladder, but does use of their religious ladder require belief in their God as they understand him? The advantage of the government-provided ladder is that regardless of its inherent weaknesses including nepotism and cronyism, at least one doesn't need to buy into a religion as the true cost of being offered a way out of poverty.

Incidentally, I am a heretic because if people such as John Eaves were allowed to run the government, any criticism of policy I made would be taken as being unacceptably critical of religion itself. When leaders believe that they are guided by God, they easily fall into a trap that anyone questioning them or their administration is not just questioning them, but God himself. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.