The Values Debate We’re Not Having

In his recent Washington Post op-ed article entitled “The Values Debate We’re Not Having,” Richard Cizik highlights the disconnect between an individualist market-first ideology and the Christian calling to love our neighbors. Cizik represented the National Association of Evangelicals in the corridors of power in Washington DC for 10 years. I think he’s raising some crucial questions for all people of faith, across the political spectrum.

Do our political parties really reflect our deepest values? And how do we respond when political movements (inevitably) fail to embody the principles of our faith? Finally, what would a genuine “values debate” look like?

Whether the Christian duty to love our neighbors is compatible with a political movement that embraces radical individualism and rejects the ethic of collective responsibility is a central question as the GOP attempts to cement the Tea Party and the religious right into a cohesive base. Tea Party activists and Republican leaders have consistently targeted for cutbacks vital government programs that protect the poor, the elderly, children and other vulnerable Americans. Yet calls for shared sacrifice and proposals to modestly raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans in order to fund investments and protections that promote the common good are derided as “class warfare.” This is what passes for family values?

This might be good politics, but it’s bad theology. Most “values voters” with even a minimal degree of biblical literacy recognize that the Hebrew prophets and Jesus warned the powerful not to afflict the poor and comfort the rich. These bedrock Judeo-Christian principles are flouted by conservatives who demand cuts to nutrition programs that help low-income women feed their children even as they defend tax loopholes for some of the world’s wealthiest ­people.

Click here to read more of Cizik’s editorial.

With one year before our next presidential election, it’s time for people of faith and voters to elevate the conversation beyond bumper-sticker slogans. What do you think? Comment below…

Chris Liu-Beers, Program Associate


  1. Marvin Maddox says

    Jesus often spoke about the dangers of being rich. Perhaps the question is really “how did you get your money?” (did you harm anyone in the process?) and “what are you doing with your money?” (are you giving much (most) of it to those less fortunate than yourself?) Perhaps we need Diogenes to walk through Wall Street with his lamp to find those who meet these two criteria? Would he find many?
    On a broader scope, we need a society which accepts these two criteria and establishes appropriate laws and tax codes to implement them. At the moment our tax code is sadly lacking.

  2. Pete Crow says

    We often decry Muslims who don’t speak out more strongly against Islamic terrorists who are trying to hijack Islam. Well, Christianity at least in the popular culture has likewise been hijacked by extremists. The missing debate of which Cizik writes will never occur until more Christian organizations become more actively and vocally involved in issues of the environment, health care, immigration and the like. And equally important, willing to engage in dialogue those on the right who in instances of tornadoes and other emergencies are often doing Christ’s work much more effectively than are those of us more to the left.

  3. Les Whitt says

    The Values Debate We’re Not Having,should include same sex marriage also. The Bible has something to say about it, but everyone seems to ignore it.

    I believe our nation need to have this debate, it’s crucial to our survival.

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