Professors discuss, debate Christianity and the election at forum

Students, faculty and staff gathered in McInnis Auditorium to hear six professors discuss the presidential election and the reasons behind their votes. Approximately 150 people attended the forum.

At the October 28 forum, the Republican and Democratic parties were represented, as well as voters who were undecided.

Drs. David Tyson and Walt Huddell supported President Bush, while Drs. Kathy Lee and Ken Maahs supported Senator Kerry. Drs. Julia Aguilar-Stewart and Robert Price were undecided.

Tyson spoke first and gave a theological justification for conservatism.

“The power of government must be limited,” he said. He talked about the holiness and sovereignty of God, as well as the sinfulness of human nature, to support his position.

“Secular liberalism is quite Christo-phobic,” he added.

“If you put a gun to my head, I’d describe myself as a conservative who believes in social programs,” Huddell said at the beginning of his three-minute speech. He said he supports Bush’s emphasis on a strong military and his funding for AIDS in Africa. He also said that he likes Bush’s integrity.

On the other hand, he said that he dislikes Bush’s environmental policy, his “lack of the view of us as citizens of the world,” the gun lobby, and the use of force in Iraq.

“I wish Saddam’s removal from power had been done differently,” Huddell said.

Maahs introduced himself as a “lifelong Republican” who had decided that he could not support the president in this election.

“[In Iraq] we were not the peacemakers that Jesus spoke of,” he said. “[Bush] is a person who lacks sensitivity. We don’t need Rambo in the big chair.”

Lee began by speaking about “the notion of shalom: the presence of good things, well-being, integrity, the absence of deceit and the presence of justice.” We do not have that under the Bush administration, she said.

“When I think about shalom, I am compelled to vote for John Kerry,” Lee said.

Aguilar-Stewart spoke about being a citizen of the kingdom of God and how her view of that citizenship was reinforced by her time spent abroad in France, Latin America and Mexico.

“I am dismayed that we have such a military response” to the world’s situations, she said, referring especially to Latin America, which was “ravished” because the United States supported dictatorships.

On the other hand, she said that she is pro-life, which complicated her decision.

“My conscience goes back and forth,” Aguilar-Stewart said.

Price said that his background was that of a good Democrat.

“I appreciated what the Democrats were doing about social issues-minorities, the poor, immigrants,” he said, “but I am disturbed by the ‘woman’s right to choose.'”

Although the Democrats are not his ideal political party, Price said that the Republicans have their share of problems too.

“The Republicans have not spread themselves out in any degree to minorities and the poor,” he said.

After the professors spoke, the audience was given time to ask them questions. One audience member asked about Bush’s use of the term “crusade” in the war on terror.

Tyson answered that the terrorists called it a jihad, so it is only appropriate that we use the language of crusade.

Lee responded for the other side.

“In a nation full of human sinfulness, to have the hubris to presume that we are virtuous is appalling,” she said.

Dr. Betsy Morgan, the moderator, asked the panelists what the key issue would be for them when they voted.

Lee responded by saying that the war against Iraq would be uppermost in her mind.

“We have squandered the tears that the world shed for us” on September 11, she said.

The key issue would be his concern that the United States has provoked the clash of civilizations, Maahs said.

“How many lives will have been squandered?” he said.

For Price, the situation overseas is of concern, but the country’s moral climate is also a key issue.

America must be “a place where standards and morality are alive and well,” he said.

Aguilar-Stewart said that she is not sure and wondered out loud about casting lots on Election Day.

“That’s biblical, isn’t it?” she joked.

Huddell said that he will go into the voting booth with “fear and trembling,” and that abortion will be first in his mind.

“Despite my mistakes, my God is sovereign,” he said.

Tyson agreed with Price that the moral climate of the United States and its “unbiblical moral standards” is a key issue for him.

After the forum, students milled around, asking the professors questions and expressing their opinions.

No Bush supporters wished to comment; however, junior Rachel Perry, a Kerry supporter, expressed her opinion.

“Bush claims to believe in the sanctity of human life, but how do you deal with the glaring inconsistencies in his pro-life stance-the war, the death penalty?” she said.

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