Cal  Thomas

The "values voters" supposedly made the difference in the re-election of George W. Bush and now want to see the administration deliver on their agenda. These same voters, known by different names when they contributed to Ronald Reagan's victory in 1980, also expected their political patron saint to deliver for them. On their premier issue - abortion - Reagan failed, handing the country Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, who have voted with their liberal colleagues to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Back then, conservatives were told they had to wait on their issues while the economy was repaired and Soviet Communism defeated. Prospects that President Bush will fulfill his promises to the values voters are better now, though economic and geopolitical issues compete for his attention.

While I hope that the president does nominate judges who respect the Constitution, instead of remaking it in their image - and that the Senate confirms them - I worry about the priorities of those values voters who regard themselves as Christian conservatives. Throughout history, the church has demonstrated the least power when it aligns itself with temporal government. It has exercised the most power (that is the power to change lives) when it aligns itself with its Leader and a kingdom "not of this world."

How morally compelling is an institution collectively known as the church when it preaches "traditional" marriage but practices something else in too many cases?

The pollster George Barna has surveyed the behavior and beliefs of Christians for many years and found them often inconsistent with the very Bible they claim to believe is infallible.

In a survey published Sept. 8, 2004, Barna discovered that born-again Christians are divorcing at the same rate as those who are not born again. Among married born-again Christians, writes Barna, 35 percent have experienced a divorce, the identical percentage for those who are not born again.

Worse, though Jesus regarded divorce as a sin (unless adultery was involved), a majority of the born-again group (52 percent) disagree that divorce without adultery is a sin. Among Catholic respondents, 69 percent disagree that divorce without adultery is a sin.

It becomes more difficult to expect secular government to impose a marital standard on culture when those who preach that standard too often do not practice it themselves. Furthermore, why is the church spending so much time and money trying to prop up culture when it has done a poor job of propping up its own families? Shouldn't repairs be made first in God's "house" before attention is paid to other people's houses? More people might listen.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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