Evangelicals Mobilize Voters, But GOP Candidates Less Vocally Supportive
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And there is a Game 7-like urgency in many political campaigns around the country. Election Day is Tuesday. And often Republicans will get a late-inning boost from a group that turns out to vote with passion and energy - Evangelical Christians. That's certainly been the case at the 150-member Jubilee Family Church and Oskaloosa, Iowa. The pastor, Bill Tvedt, says all the adults in his congregation vote. He encourages it.
PASTOR BILL TVEDT: We just call people to civic responsibility. And those who have not been registered, we just say, if there's anything we can do for you, to help serve you to become part of the solution, we'll do that.
GREENE: Pastor Tvedt says he preaches for his parishioners to seek out candidates for who have what he calls a Biblical worldview. But this year's such candidates may be harder to find. Even though Evangelical voters remain a major part of the Republican base, Pastor Tvedt says their core issues have not been the focus of many stumps speeches.
It was not so long ago that Evangelicals played such an important role in the Republican Party, in George W. Bush and his election wins. What has changed since then?
TVEDT: I think the biggest thing is that the establishment Republicans have moved further away from those values that are held by the Christians. But I believe that there's a cultural thing that's happening, too, that even within the Evangelical community there's not a strong value system as there was back in those days. I think that's part of the problem. They still believe these things, but they aren't necessarily willing to fight maybe because they're somewhat disillusioned or they feel like their voice is not being heard.
GREENE: You know what, I remember covering politics a decade or so ago, and there was sort of a debate. I mean, there are some who believe that issues like abortion, same-sex marriage - very, very important. They were driving a lot of Evangelicals to the polls, very important to people. And some who believed that these were issues that just shouldn't play such an outsized role in politics. And I wonder if we're seeing in 2014 more people just sort of coming to that view - that these are not issues that should be that important in an election.
TVEDT: You know, the Evangelical will look to the scripture that says righteousness exalts a nation, not just an individual. And what is legislated on a national basis brings national blessing, our national judgment from God. You know, I think in general what has happened is the Republican Party has courted the Evangelicals and made promises that they didn't make good on. And I think that brings discouragement to those who hold those values. And then what happens as a result of disillusionment with the party, many times they've thought, well, it just doesn't pay to vote, and they give up. The partner they're dancing with hasn't always carried through on their issues maybe as strongly as they would've liked them to.
GREENE: And so what is your message to Republicans and the Party?
TVEDT: My message to the Republicans is that if the Evangelicals are a significant constituency in voting block then they really need to adopt their beliefs and really understand them to be a major part of their base.
GREENE: That sounds like a very politely - and I say very politely-worded threat.
TVEDT: Well, no, I don't think that there's any threat. I think that Christians are going to support the Republican Party. Evangelicals are - I think pretty strongly regardless. But some I know will be disgruntled and are disgruntled and probably will just give up. I guess it's a warning more than a threat that people get disillusioned.
GREENE: Bill Tvedt is pastor at the Jubilee Family Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Pastor Tvedt, thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it.
TVEDT: Thank you, sir. And you have a wonderful day.
GREENE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.