Written by Don Byrd

I am 100% in favor of efforts to encourage people of faith to vote. And to use the principles important to their faith to inform their views on public policy, including electoral decisions. Religious communities often lead the way in conversations about the issues of the day, and there is nothing wrong with calling on religious folks to participate in the political process.

However, I strongly reject the idea that being a person of faith requires a particular political view, or support for or against a particular candidate or political party. There are good, devout, people of faith all along the spectrum of political views. Someone needs to tell Franklin Graham.

In a new piece profiling Graham’s electoral activism, the NYTimes passes along this appalling quote from the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham: “Progressive?…That’s just another word for godless.” 

He couldn’t be more wrong. Progressive politics are no more or less religious than conservative politics. To suggest otherwise is offensive to our basic rights of free conscience and religious liberty. It is especially galling from a traditional Baptist perspective, which values the liberty of each person to enact their faith as their individual conscience dictates. That is the promise of soul freedom.

So, if your faith calls on you to speak out on the issues of the day, and encourage others to follow your lead, have at it! It is your right as an American and, for many, your duty as a Christian. Explain how your faith informs your decision. Make your case where all can hear you!  But don’t paint those who disagree with you as any less godly than you. Regardless of the issue, some devout followers of Christ will no doubt have reached a different conclusion than you. The resulting conversation is important to both our religious and our civic development. It is a beautiful sign of our freedom of conscience, and an indication that religious liberty is alive and robust.