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Did the Grace Brethren Elect George Bush?

Nov 5, 2004

Here’s an interesting thought.

Were Grace Brethren voters a major factor–perhaps THE deciding factor–in re-electing George Bush as president?

All the world is aware of how important Ohio was in this election. And it is well-recognized that evangelicals turned out, voted, and were the major factor in his return to office.

Grace Brethren are mainstream evangelicals. Where in the US is our greatest concentration? Well…the current FGBC directory lists 59 Grace Brethren churches in Ohio. We stretch from Cleveland to Toledo to Columbus to Dayton–to some extent the multiple Grace Brethren congregations in Ohio may make it one of the “most Christian states” in the same way that Grace Brethren missions work has made Central African Republic one of the most Christian nations on earth (see article in current FGBC World). And some of our largest and most influential congregations are in Ohio.

We don’t want to take credit we don’t deserve–but certainly Grace Brethren people should feel good about having gotten out the vote, and having voted their consciences.

Rightly or wrongly, I’m thinking that Grace Brethren people in Ohio may have had a significant influence on the entire world’s direction the next four years.

Here is an excerpt from a good interpretive post-election article from World Magazine. To read the full article (note last paragraph, in particular), click here:

Despite the hyperbole of some on the right—perhaps induced by euphoria mixed with lack of sleep—there was widespread consensus that Mr. Bush owed his reelection largely to his evangelical base. ” Christian evangelical votes made the difference in this election, there’s no doubt about it,” said Roberta Combs, executive director of the Christian Coalition. “Four years ago they didn’t really know President Bush, and they didn’t turn out as strongly as they might have. But I think Christian evangelicals got to know him and trust him. They know he’s a man of faith—he’s spoken about it and he’s practiced it.”

But Matthew Spalding, director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center at the Heritage Foundation, warns that focusing on evangelicals alone misses the full impact of what the president has accomplished in terms of coalition-building. “It’s not just the religious right—this is bigger. Bush got a significant portion of the Hispanic vote—42 percent. He got 11 percent of the black vote nationally and better than that in some states. He got the Catholic vote, the Protestant vote. It’s now accurate to say there’s a bloc—there’s a group out there that takes these moral issues seriously. They’re the cornerstone of the Bush coalition.”

Mr. Spalding points out that one in five voters on Nov. 2 cited “moral values” as the most important issue driving them to the polls. “No one saw that coming. They expected it to be all about jobs and terrorism.” Because of their religious blind spot, he says, the mainstream media “completely missed the larger movement in American politics—that is, that we are seeing a moral alignment of great magnitude for this country.”

That moral alignment, he says, is “about a whole basket of issues, not just abortion. . . . We know abortion is very important, and the pro-life vote went 70 percent plus for Bush.” But it was another moral issue—one that got very little attention during the campaign—that may have turned the entire election in the Republicans’ favor. “This was clearly a 9/11 election,” Mr. Spalding says. “I believe the post-9/11 threat was the single most important issue with most voters. But if there was a side issue that decided several states and gave Bush the presidency, it was the defense-of-marriage issue.”

Indeed, constitutional initiatives limiting marriage to one man and one woman swept the board on Tuesday, winning by margins of 60 percent to 80 percent in all 11 states where they appeared on the ballot. Though gay marriage was rarely mentioned during the campaign, Mr. Bush did come out early in favor of a Federal Marriage Amendment—a position opposed by Mr. Kerry. That seemed to work in the president’s favor: Of the 11 states voting on the measure, Mr. Bush carried nine of them. (Only Michigan and Oregon went to Mr. Kerry.)

But it was Ohio—the linchpin of the entire election—where the issue appeared to be most pivotal. All day, exit polls had predicted good news for the Democrats, and newscasters privy to the poll results could barely contain their glee. Then, when the polls closed in Ohio at 7:30 p.m., came the first hint that something might go seriously wrong with the Kerry momentum.

Within moments after voting ended in the Buckeye State—and more than 12 hours before Mr. Kerry was willing to admit defeat there—the networks predicted a big win for Ohio’s toughest-in-the-nation ban on gay marriages and civil unions. On NBC, Tom Brokaw let out a low whistle. The implications were obvious: A 2-to-1 winning margin for the marriage amendment (known in Ohio as Issue 1) suggested a bigger GOP turnout than anyone had anticipated.