Associated Baptist Press recently carried an opinion column by Baptist Ethicist David Gushee in which the past New Evangelical Partnership chairman shared his initial thoughts on Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech. I have had the opportunity to hear Gushee on occasion, including at last year’s anti-torture conference held at United Methodist Duke Divinity School. Gushee also helped organize the recent sexuality conference of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Gushee prefaces his commentary by explaining that it is “intended to be nonpartisan and to speak to the ethos and values presented.” I found it helpful to hear how someone from an Evangelical Left perspective heard the Republican candidate’s words.
This observation was interesting, because it was so at odds with what I heard:
“On Horatio Alger myths: It seemed very important for Rubio, Romney and everyone else in the Republican camp to proclaim loudly that they believe in America, which seemed largely to mean a place where rags-to-riches stories still happen. The “American Dream” is that anyone can come or grow up here and one day become very successful despite very modest backgrounds.
I wish Romney had noted that this dream of social mobility is actually today harder to achieve in America than in many other countries — and that government policies are among those factors which contribute to our declining social mobility. And Christians, of course, do have a few theological resources for raising questions about whether getting rich is the highest goal in life.”
Cut to Romney’s acceptance speech:
“Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get ahead a little more, put aside a little more for college, do more for their elderly mom who’s living alone now or give a little more to their church or charity.
Every small business wanted these to be their best years ever, when they could hire more, do more for those who had stuck with them through the hard times, open a new store or sponsor that Little League team.
Every new college graduate thought they’d have a good job by now, a place of their own, and that they could start paying back some of their loans and build for the future.”
To me, this doesn’t sound like “getting rich is the highest goal in life,” rather “money enables us to do some good things, and this economy has made doing those things more difficult.”
Towards the end of his column, Gushee addresses Romney’s appeal towards women:
“This is not Phyllis Schlafly’s Republican Party. It was good to be reminded that Mitt Romney’s mother actually ran for Senate herself. Clearly Romney was trying to communicate to women that he is concerned about them, too, but in a different way than the Democrats are: not in terms of reproductive choice, but in terms of political and economic opportunity. We will see how that flies in November.”
Did anyone find Gushee’s use of the term “reproductive choice” at the end of his analysis to be a bit jarring? It is a term used exclusively by the abortion lobby – you don’t see it used by the mainstream media (they use “abortion rights”) and you certainly don’t see it used by conservative Christians. I was surprised to see Gushee use the term, and am interested in seeing if it spreads into mainstream use.
You can read all of Gushee’s column here.