Vote with convictions, not pocketbook, Jack Graham says

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--America is in a cultural battle and Christians must begin voting with their convictions and not their pocketbooks, Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham said Feb. 16.

Speaking to SBC Executive Committee members, Graham said the 2004 election "apparently" will present voters with a "very clear choice" as to "what kind of values" will represent the country.

"I'm not talking about Republicans or Democrats -- I'm talking about conservative Christian values as compared to either no values or the liberal values," he said. "And this political war will be about the cultural war."

Graham said he supports a new initiative by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to begin a voter registration drive to register evangelicals. He said that rather than "voting pocketbooks" or political parties, Christian should vote with their convictions.

He noted that recently his Dallas-area congregation, Prestonwood Baptist Church, registered 500 people over two weekends. The registration drive coincided with a conference for young people.

"[T]here are a number of people in our churches, who, rather than voting family values and voting faith values, they vote political values, and we need to train and nurture and help our people understand what the issues are and how to respond in the voting booth," he said. "That's not telling people how to vote, that's helping them understand and frame the election in terms not of politics but of principle."

Graham said America today is witnessing a spiritual war, cultural war, political war, ecclesiastical war and domestic war. The domestic war, he said, involves the definition of and disintegration of the family. One of the biggest issues is same-sex "marriage," he said.

"I personally support a marriage amendment that would say to the nation that a man and a woman married [and] committed to each other is God's intention, the foundation of our society, of our culture, of this nation," he said to applause. "And anything else is a perversion of that truth and a potential devastation to our nation."

On other issues:

-- Graham said he has viewed the movie "The Passion of The Christ" and was moved by it. The movie is rated R for violence.

"I believe the greater impact is going to be in the hearts and lives of believers," he said. "You can't watch this move and walk away the same."

-- Graham said he believes the now-infamous Janet Jackson-Super Bowl controversy will alert people to the filth that has long been on television.

"I think it was a wakeup call for many parents and grandparents, because the MTV generation -- they're watching this stuff two, three, four hours a day," he said.

The controversy should remind Christians to connect with the young people who are drawn to such lewd entertainment, Graham said.

"We have an entire generation of young people who are wounded, and the soldiers of the cross need to bring them in," he said. "They're not the enemy -- they're kids for whom Jesus died."

Regarding ecclesiastical battles, Graham touched on the controversy in the Episcopal Church, where an openly homosexual bishop was elected last year. Such churches have "lost their sense of moral direction," he said.

But the Christian church must be the focal point of battles - whether they be spiritual or cultural -- Graham said.

"It has to begin with the church itself," he said. "That's where we must determine to fight this good fight of faith, and to be passionate in our commitment to do it."


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