Exclusive Interview: Rev. Joe Morecraft III On The Usefulness (Or Not) Of Political Parties To Rebuild Our Christian Country
By John Lofton, Editor
The Rev. Joe Morecraft III is Pastor of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, 302 Pilgrim Mill Road, Cumming, GA 30040. In a recent interview, I discussed with him the usefulness (or not) of political parties to rebuild the Christian foundations of our country.
Here is an edited version of that discussion featuring only his comments:
I think that political parties have a limited function. They, in my opinion, have as their purpose the gathering of people who share a common political platform in an attempt to elect people to office who believe that platform. If a political party tries to do anything else, it’s going to be a failure in my opinion as a political party. If it tries to act like a school and teach and instruct people, it’s not going to get people elected. If it tries to act like a church or a state, it usurps authority it wasn’t given.
And what I mean by all that is — I understand, and I’ve been involved in third party political parties for a long time — I understand the desire and the need to educate in order to get our people elected. But I don’t think political parties can do it effectively. I think we have to Christianize Christians and their political understanding of life both through the church and through the school. That is what I’ve spent my life trying to do, along with evangelism, of saving the lost, and Christianizing Christians and the latter is the hardest of the two in this culture.
So, I think — now if political parties, and I think that they have to instruct, but that’s what makes them weak, I think. My opinion, after thinking a lot about it, is that I think they can have an important and limited role in trying — combining our forces to try and get people elected who represent a Christian platform. Besides that, if they — I believe that the civil government requiring parties to register and all that is usurpation of authority.
But anyway — so, I think there has to be some kind of organization, [and I say this] after having run for Congress, is that there has to be some kind of local grassroots organization that does the footwork and all the various things that have to be done to elect the candidate. And if the focus is on a national election you still have to have some kind of local and national organization to be as effective as you can in putting it all this together to get your candidate as many votes as you can get him.
The only kind of political party I want to be involved in is one that has a distinctively Christian and Biblical platform. Because that’s the — the Bible is our standard — we [must] allow the Bible and submit to the Bible so that it will determine our perspective and commitment on every political issue. And that was [what I believed] when I ran for Congress in 1986. What so impressed me about the Bible [was] that no matter what the issue is the Bible has some direction to give, directly or indirectly…because It is the Word of God.
And I think that a party must be overtly Christian in its platform. I think the platform is everything, unlike the Republican Party. And why Christians try to get involved and write a platform for the Republican Party, I don’t know. Because the political candidates, and particularly the Presidential candidate will not support something that Christians write. The Christians are the ‘water boys.’ Whenever the Republicans need votes they say “pro- life, pro-life, pro-life” and all the little Christians will be in line and up and vote Republican.
And every time the Democrats need votes they say to the lower end of the economic scale “welfare, welfare, welfare” and they line up obediently and vote. I’m nobody’s water boy and that’s it. And I think leadership in this culture means Christians quit being water boys and take positions of leadership that we serve people and …we try to help people and we try to lead.
One of the traits of leadership is not following the consensus concerning what the basic issues and answers are, but defining the issue our selves [and asking] what are the most important issues? What does the Bible say about those issues?
I don’t think we care who votes for us. When I ran for Congress there was an atheist woman – I mean a confessed atheist – and she gave out my brochures and all that stuff and I asked her once – I said “Miss so and so – I’m a Christian, you’re an atheist – I believe you are going to hell – I appreciate your help, but why do you want me, a Christian in public office?” And she said, “Because the liberals are robbing me blind, and I know that you’ll preserve my wealth.”
So, we don’t care, we want anybody and everybody to vote for us, of course. But it is working for a particular platform and candidates who reflect that platform. Now, I don’t believe a platform is a confession of faith, or a doctrinal statement. I mean in a church you have a platform, a doctrinal statement, and you must dot all the “I’s” and cross all the “t’s.”
I, for instance, have been involved with the Constitution Party from its beginning and never agreed with its [views on] protectionism and international trade. There are some elements with which we can differ, but there are other elements that are so critically important in our culture that any disagreement with those is a destruction of everything we stand for.
For instance, abortion. If a Christian party has a platform with a weak view of abortion for rape, incest, fetal deformity etc., as far as I’m concerned it’s over. It’s not something that is Christian. I think a political platform should be so Christian and so Biblical that no Mormon would want to join that party.
From our church we have two men in the state legislature of Georgia. They ran in the Republican Party. There was no way, humanly speaking, they could get elected otherwise. And one of them particularly is very effective, so I think that it’s not sinful to vote Republican. I don’t think it’s sinful to be a member of the Republican Party. I don’t even know that it’s sinful to be a member of the Democratic Party [though] I am rather squeamish on that. But Larry McDonald, remember, was a Democrat.
I think the goal (of the two parties) is the same – get and keep power – whatever you have to do or say. I think “joining a political party” is an interesting phrase. I think participating in trying to reach the goals of the organization of the political party is a better way of looking at it.
Now, I don’t expect many people to get elected any time soon on a [Christian/Biblical] platform because most Americans – the overwhelming majority of Americans — do not want a Christian, political party or a political Christian candidate. They might want what they might call a conservative, but they don’t want a Christian candidate.
[Here locally we have a] talk show host, Neal Bortz, who’s a radical Libertarian. He told me one time “Joe, I’d rather have a communist dictator than you Christians in places of power.” So, I don’t expect many of our people to get elected – if they’re distinctively Christian in character and policy.
But I don’t despise the days of small beginnings. We’ve got to be pioneers, is the point. We’ve got to cut the trails, politically, show them how to do it, how not to do it, for future generations to build on what we’ve done.
I ran for Congress in 1986 as an overt Christian, obviously, self-consciously aware that I was a pioneer, praying that people would build on that. If we have political parties now that are overtly Christian it is a great training program for future days. And I think the other side of the coin is active involvement, you’ve got to have an organization – to get money, to give out brochures – to get – I mean there has to be that side too.
It’s interesting, you know, Alexander Hamilton — the Constitution doesn’t say anything about political parties. They started very quickly, when you had people like Hamilton started finding himself in opposition to the registration and regulation of the government. I mean he didn’t like the excise on whiskey, he didn’t like various other things and so he developed that [Christian Constitution Society] to get like-minded people together, to get somebody else in office, that didn’t hold those views.
And I think there’s another purpose for a political party, too, rather than running its own candidates, sort of like, you remember the old, [William] Buckley Conservative Party in New York, years ago? It was a restraint, for a while, on other political parties, and I think that if a Christian political party became strong enough – even though it couldn’t run a candidate, or elect a candidate in a certain area, it can began by being a clear restraint on candidates, who maybe wouldn’t run on their platform.