Update: Litzow Endorsement Withdrawn
Last night I received news that Pastor Joseph Fuiten had removed his endorsement of NARAL PAC committee member, Steve Litzow. I appreciate him doing so.
While we can be happy that the adamantly pro-choice Litzow no longer has the sanction of a pro-life pastor, this is not the time to let our guards down. Unfortunately, Pastor Fuiten’s withdrawal of this endorsement does not reflect a change in political philosophy, neither does it mean that his remaining endorsements necessarily reflect pro-life Christian values. Many of them do, but certainly not all. Steve Litzow was the most egregious offender, but he was not the only pro-choice candidate on this year’s Pastor’s Picks (And no, I’m not referring here to Dino Rossi.)
This past week has afforded the pro-life community with valuable insight into the world of political endorsements. I am grateful for Pastor Fuiten’s willingness to elaborate on the process, despite our adamant disagreement on the subject. On Friday, Fuiten released this statement (prior to withdrawing his endorsement):
A special message from Pastor Joe:
I have raised some eyebrows with my recommendation to vote for Steve Litzow over his Democratic rival in the race for State Senate in the 41st Legislative District. It might be a good time to remind friends about my process. When I make a voting recommendation, I have a series of filters:
FIRST, I look for a competent and conservative Christian. Lacking that I choose as conservative a person as possible.
LACKING THAT, I choose a Republican. In this case, all that gets him the nomination is that he is a Republican and the other guy is a Democrat.
Why does the party matter?
The majority party gets to choose committee chairs who in turn determine what bills get heard in a committee. A lot of bad things have happened since Republicans lost a working majority in the Senate. Litzow is on the board of NARAL. However, if Litzow gets elected, his might be the position that returns the Republicans to control of the Senate. Even though he is personally pro-abortion, it might put a pro-life Republican in charge of some committee that would give us the results we want.
Some in the pro-life community have made my endorsement an issue, but they really don’t understand the back story as to why I don’t want the Democrat elected. It isn’t a simple question of who is pro-life because neither one is. It is a question of which candidate’s election will actually advance the pro-life cause. In this case, it would be Litzow. I have actually had pro-lifers say they would rather have the Democrat than a pro-abortion Republican. But that might end up being very short-sighted and could actually hurt the pro-life cause.
That is the strange world of politics.
Maybe we won’t elect enough Republicans to make a difference, but I would be really unhappy if the naive attitudes of some left us one Republican vote short to control the Senate and therefore to keep the current bunch in power.
Though Fuiten has since removed this particular endorsement, he continues to operate under this same process. Unless this changes, he will continue to endorse pro-choice Republicans. I can understand the pragmatic reasons Fuiten uses this method–my opposition to his endorsement of Litzow was not based on a misunderstanding of his process.
I could write ad nauseum on the problems I have with this form of pragmatism, but I have a feeling most of you know what those reasons are, and have already come down on one side or the other.
The bottom line is this: We must not assume that when a pro-life, conservative, Christian pastor endorses a candidate, that the candidate shares pro-life, conservative, Christian values. This does not just go for Pastor’s Picks, but many other groups and individuals who issue endorsements. This is nothing new.
Too often Pro-Life leaders have been willing to accept cosmetic agreement by Republicans and ignore deep, real, political disagreements.
In our last US Senate Race, the Washington State Republican nominee merely said he was a Catholic and quote, “against abortion.” Those were, we’re told, his personal feelings. His political positions, however, were extremely pro-choice. He was a defender of a woman’s partially-regulated right to abortion. Trusted pro-life leaders endorsed this candidate, even when the candidate’s actual positions became known. He was a Republican.
On November 4, 2007, former Senator Fred Thompson, openly, on national TV, told NBC’s Tim Russert he believed that abortion is “a woman’s right,” and he would not vote to ban it in the first trimester at any level. Nine days later, on November 13, 2007, the National Right to Life Committee endorsed his candidacy for President of the United States. He was a Republican.
The eventual holder of the Republican nomination for President in 2008 was the recipient, for good reason, of the enthusiastic endorsement of Republicans for Choice. The National Right to Life also endorsed him. He was a Republican.
And so, in practice, applying to one’s chest the Republican logo has, to some degree, become a means of whitewashing pro-abortion views. We believe that for any Republican who understands the gravity of the legalized murder of innocent children, this is intolerable.
Voter vigilance is crucial. On the flip side, I would challenge those who issue endorsements to realize that many who trust them will assume that the candidates they endorse share their values. Ultimately, it is the individual voter’s responsibility to do their own research, but who can blame them for making such assumptions?
What would happen if the pro-life community no longer got behind candidates who blatantly turned their backs on the unborn? What if the Republican Party faced consequences, for running such pro-choice candidates? The brilliant abolitionist writer, Elizabeth Heyrick, wrote: “Truth and justice, make their best way in the world, when they appear in bold and simple majesty; their demands are most willingly conceded when they are most fearlessly claimed.” I think she’s right.
Sacrifice children on the altar of Republicanism? I won’t do it. The children aren’t expendable. The Republican party is.
… I’ll vote for someone who won’t sacrifice children on the altar of expedience, pragmatism, partisanship or economic philosophy. And I won’t consider it a wasted vote, because if the two options on a ballot so blatantly dishonor Christ and His values, then the real waste would be voting for one of them.
To some this is naïve and impractical. But if we acted according to principle and conscience, if we stopped selling out because of our premature analysis of “electability,” if we did it God’s way instead of ours, maybe we would be coming over to His side rather than expecting Him to come over to ours. Maybe then we would receive God’s approval. That’s what will matter in the last day. And that’s what should most matter to us now.
I can live with not being a Republican. I cannot live with ceasing to stand up for the little ones, of whom God says “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the cause of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-)
Let’s be grateful that Pastor Fuiten withdrew this endorsement, and continue to be vigilant in seeking and proclaiming truth and light.