Why Kerry and Not Bush

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by Tony Campolo

I am not pleased with either candidate. Both wanted that dreadful war that neither Calvin nor Augustine would have labeled "just." I try to believe that this administration had good motives for indicting Iraq, but I still wonder whether we would have acted differently if Iraq's major export had been mushrooms instead of oil.

On family issues, both favor unions for gays but neither wants to call them marriages. Kerry is pro-choice, and that turns off most evangelicals. Bush is pro-life, but I'm not the only one who senses that he's less than enthusiastic about it. Furthermore, I believe that responsible Christians should take a more holistic view of what's at stake and not vote on the abortion issue alone.

There are other reasons why I will vote for Kerry. I think he will be better for the poor. The Bush tax cuts greatly help rich people, but they don't do much for the people at the bottom. Trickle-down supply-side economics sounds good, but, as we learned in the Reagan years, the benefits rarely trickle all the way down to the poorest Americans. Poor people need jobs, and this administration has presided over the greatest loss of jobs since the Great Depression. I think Kerry can do better!

Those faith-based initiatives, so loudly hailed by evangelicals as the best way to help the poor, have been politicized in Bush's White House by the likes of Karl Rove. They appear to be a way to gain support from some Hispanic and African-American churches, even while programs that people of color desperately need are being cut.

Bush is not environmentally concerned! He has abolished many safeguards against pollution, giving carte blanche to heavy industries and allowing Detroit to produce environmentally destructive gas-guzzlers. You don't have to buy into the over-the-top scenario of The Day After Tomorrow movie to believe that disaster is coming because of global warming. There's been a 10-percent change in Europe's temperature, a loss of salt marshes and wetland, the melting of permafrost, the bleaching of coral–yet Bush is still not convinced that there really is such a thing as the "greenhouse effect." In spite of its shortcomings, Bush should have signed the Kyoto Treaty. Romans 8:19 calls us to rescue the earth from progressive degradation, but Bush refuses to make this a priority.

This president's foreign policies have been a disaster. He has squandered the good will of the world following 9-11 by pursuing a course of action that reeked of arrogance. His policies in the Middle East may set back missionary work among Muslims a thousand years. He has discarded all semblance of even-handedness. It is one thing to support Israel's cry for safe and secure borders, but letting Israel steal land from Palestinians and then use it for illegal settlements is wrong. Allowing Sharon to destroy the homes of thousands of Palestinians to make room for those settlements is criminal. One-third of U.S. foreign aid goes to Israel. That makes us partners in what Israel does.

Most importantly, I would like to see America get rid of some of the key people in Bush's Cabinet. Donald Rumsfeld has admitted abuses by the military that have tarnished the reputation of our troops, many of whom are exemplary in their service and humanity. John Ashcroft's Patriot Act has obliterated the many protections once guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. And Dick Cheney has stonewalled disclosures of his secret negotiations with oil companies, giving the appearance of evil.

I know that I'll be very contrary to most of my evangelical friends, but, given an overview of the many issues we must face in this election year, I have to go for Kerry.

Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA, and the author of over 30 books. His most recent book is SPEAKING MY MIND: THE RADICAL EVANGELICAL PROPHET TACKLES THE TOUGH ISSUES CHRISTIANS ARE AFRAID TO FACE (W Publishing Group, 2004).

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