BY ANDREW WALKER
With the dust still settling nationally, this is clear in Kentucky: worldviews hostile to the beliefs of Kentucky Baptists suffered an astonishing defeat last Tuesday that cemented Kentucky’s reputation as a solidly conservative state. After last Tuesday, bluegrass progressivism is on the verge of political irrelevance.
Kentucky Baptists should be encouraged by the surge in Conservative lawmakers in Frankfurt, as Kentucky voters sent twelve new Republican lawmakers to the House of Representatives and two to the Senate. Kentucky legislature is now three-quarters Republican with majorities in both houses. Tuesday’s election more or less hinders Governor Andy Beshear’s legislative goals and ensures that all further action related to COVID-19 must be taken with greater Republican consensus.
Indeed, Governor Beshear must learn to work with Republicans and roll back progressivism in his own party if he is to have any political relevance apart from a flurry of executive orders. And while the Republican Party is by no means God’s appointed means to save the world or Frankfurt, it is indisputable that the Republican Party is far better positioned to promote the values of the Kentucky Baptist on matters of the sanctity of life, the protection of to advance the family and religious freedom as modern progressivism. Because of Tuesday, we can look forward to a term in which lawmakers will be even more encouraged to vote for life, religious freedom, and family integrity.
In recent years, Kentucky’s progressive coalition has become bolder and stricter in its progressive positions and at the same time smaller in post-election elections. It seems almost such a formulaic relationship that you’d think Democratic party officials on bluegrass would rethink their progressivism. However, the opposite appears to be the case. The old saying goes that the definition of insanity does the same thing and expects different results. If that’s true, then madness seems to be the strategy chosen for the Kentucky Democratic Party. I say this without feeling malicious or bipartisan, as it would be a smarter strategy for them to adopt a more moderate stance.
For example, imagine if the Kentucky Democrats led the way in welcoming pro-life votes. This could have national implications if the national party deviates from its worship of abortion. But to the extent that Kentucky Democrats have the reputation of being a national party lurching more towards socialism, preferential pronouns, culture cancellation, and late-term abortion, they are doomed to fail. I hope they reverse course for them and for normal decency.
Until the Democratic Party abandons its anti-biblical positions that thwart justice and undermine the common good, its influence will rightly be overridden. But it’s not about politics for politics’s sake. No, this is about which party promotes politics that honors God’s moral law of those who want to stamp on it. For us as Christians we have to adhere to what the famous Baptist theologian Carl FH Henry wrote as the basis of our political commitment: “For the Christian patriot, the nation reaches its highest peak of prestige when it recognizes God as a sovereign source, support and sanctioning of everything that is true and right, and makes its political institutions an instrument of public justice and order. “
This is an important reminder: God doesn’t care about party affiliation. He is concerned with whether we are connected with Him and whether justice is promoted for all people.
At the same time, just because there is an R after a person’s name does not earn them undisputed loyalty. This will be especially the case as the pressure for expanded gambling continues to find its way into the Republican legislature in Kentucky. For the sake of the poor and to love our neighbors, Kentucky Baptists must speak out against expanded gambling. So Kentucky Baptists, we must be ready to let God’s truth speak on a bipartisan matter: If Democrats are to promote policies that tear unborn lives apart through abortion, we must speak a prophetic word against such things. If Republicans are to promote policies that tear families apart through expanded gambling, we must speak against such things as well. Our calling as Christians means that we owe our highest allegiance to God’s moral demands, not to man’s political whims.
Tuesday’s election is a reminder that the voting is under real circumstances and politics has a tremendous impact on politics that help us love or harm our neighbor. For one, I am grateful that Kentucky’s election results indicate further steps in the right direction regarding values sacred to Kentucky Baptists.
Andrew T. Walker is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Public Affairs Advisor to the Kentucky Baptist Convention.