NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Republicans in the House of Representatives unveiled “A Pledge to America” legislative agenda Sept. 23, focusing on the issues of unemployment, taxes, health care and government spending, with little attention given to social issues other than abortion.
“‘A Pledge to America’ is a strong statement that can serve as a preamble to what a majority of Americans believe about the role the government should and should not play in the economic lives of families, communities and the nation,” said Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Land continued to point out the highlights of the document.
“Some have criticized the document for not being more specific about many of the issues that deeply concern social conservatives,” said Land. “However, when you compare this pledge with the 1994 ‘Contract with America,’ which was deafeningly silent on moral issues, one can see that social conservatives are clearly a more important part of any potential conservative governing coalition than they were in 1994. There could have been stronger language concerning the defense of traditional marriage, but the language affirming no government funding for abortion is welcomed.
“‘A Pledge to America’ is a document of its time and place. A significant majority of Americans, social conservatives and others, understand that we are in an economic crisis. And the oldest rule in American politics is: When the economy is bad, it takes up most of the oxygen in the room. ‘A Pledge to America’ is a pledge to put America’s financial house in order as quickly as possible. It should not be read as an abandonment of the social conservatives’ moral agenda.”
Land also explained the differences between social conservatives’ concern with congressional decisions and with judges’ rulings.
“It should also be noted that most of the social conservatives’ agenda is not legislative, but is concerned with keeping judges from altering the definitions and values in our society without the consent of the governed. It should always be remembered that the issues that most concern social conservatives are those that the judiciary or the executive branch, not the Congress, made political issues, such as abortion, same-sex marriage and reverse discrimination. For the last two generations, most social conservatives have been driven into the public policy arena in defense of values that were under assault not from their elected representatives but from an increasingly egomaniacal judiciary.
“The poster boy for such judicial meddling with the people’s will is Judge Vaughn Walker’s overturning of the will of the people of California concerning marriage. Judge Walker’s picture should be in the legal dictionary under the definition of ‘disgraceful and constitutionally dangerous judicial activism.’ The arrogance of Judge Walker’s opinion is a perfect example of what brought social conservatives into the public arena in defense of their constitutional right to have a government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’”
The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.2 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.