As you know, Louisiana will choose its next governor this Saturday, November 21st. Opinions run deep as to who should be elected. Many of my friends who originally supported either Scott Angelle or Jay Dardenne in the October 24th primary have told me they are leaning toward John Bel Edwards, while others have concluded that David Vitter is the right choice for Louisiana.
The earnest effort to evaluate each candidate’s fitness for office remains a stewardship responsibility (see Exodus 18:21). To that end, I have a few thoughts to share with you, but I want to make it clear that my comments here are my own as an individual citizen, and are not intended to represent the views of Louisiana Family Forum (LFF), and should not be construed as an endorsement of a candidate by LFF.
First, let’s be direct. The elephant in the room (no pun intended) is the Senator’s confession seven years ago of an undisclosed moral failure, which occurred fifteen years ago. This begs the question: how can faithful Christians support David Vitter?
For the record, that is a fair question.
As a leader in the Christian church, an ordained minister, a presbyter and an adviser to pastors across Louisiana, I have seen many broken lives, broken hearts, broken families, and broken homes. Unfortunately, brokenness is a far too common reality for many individuals andfamilies in Louisiana.
David Vitter’s family arrived at a place of brokenness as well. By his own admission and due solely to his personal actions, the risk of a broken marriage, family, and career were imminent, and would likely have occurred had David not sought reconciliation and restoration through personal repentance, prayer, and outside counsel. Brokenness would have remained had David not received forgiveness from his family.
Thankfully, David invited God into his crisis and asked his wife, children, and God to forgive and restore him. They extended grace when David needed it most! This is the same grace that God offers all sinners who approach His throne.
“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.” ~ Proverbs 28:13
Owning failure and asking God for liberty from sin and its effect is in fact the very business of our Savior’s reconciling work. It is also a core conservative principle: own your mistakes, learn life lessons from them, and, in humility, build a better character and future!
The result of David’s admission is that his family, his marriage, and his standing with the Lord were all restored many years ago. I have had the privilege of praying and walking with this brother through some of those tenuous moments. There is no doubt his repentance was authentic, and his intact faith and family is evidence of that. From brokenness to blessing, Gods’ redemptive work warrants respect and – in line with Proverbs 28:13 – instructs that we respond with mercy!
Second, in spite of the opinion of some, I do not pledge allegiance to any political party. I pledge my allegiance to Christ alone and to His Holy Word. His command compels me to bring these words and works of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:15)
However, I do pay careful attention to the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties – both at the national and at the state levels. Those respective platforms serve as the doctrinal guidance, the statement of faith, and overall mission of each party. When I study each party’s platform, I do notice very significant differences. These differences should be important to conscientious citizens and all people of faith.
Along with party platforms, it helps to compare and contrast the recorded political history of each candidate, as evidenced by their party affiliations and actual voting records. All of that information is important in providing a context for measuring the rancorous campaign rhetoric. Click here to see John Bel Edwards’ LFF lifetime voting records; click here to see David Vitter’s Lifetime FRC voting record.
When you look at each contender’s actual voting record, you can see that David Vitter has an indisputable record on life, liberty, and limited government issues. He is the only candidate who has the endorsement of National Right to Life, has authored numerous bills to advance the pro-life cause and has a 95% lifetime voting record with the Family Research Council Action. Along with the redemption and reconciliation that have become a hallmark in David’s life, his record suggests that he would continue the gradual conservative reforms that Louisiana began nearly two decades ago.
I have also worked closely with and respect John Bel Edwards, but we have not often agreed on matters of public policy. While he has voted correctly on pro-life issues, he has never authored a single pro-life bill, and he has on occasion advanced amendments that would weaken pro-life legislation. Louisiana Right to Life and LFF have had to oppose those Edwards amendments. We also strongly disagree on the issue of Planned Parenthood, since he has said on the record he would not be in favor of immediately defunding this abortion-minded organization.
John Bel’s votes on many other social issues have been just as non-traditional. His record shows he is comfortable with bigger government solutions to the problems facing our state, and – in some instances – he is opposed to parental choice in education. At the same time, he has supported comprehensive sex education in public schools, which includes conversations around contraceptive use and abortion information for teenagers.
John Bel has assured LGBT groups that – if elected Governor – he will sign an executive order that elevates sexual orientation to a newly protected class, which is consistent with how he has voted during his tenure in the Legislature.
LGBT advocate Mary Griggs cited John Bel Edwards’ in his own words:
This proposed executive order has been called “bad public policy” and an affront to religious liberty- for a number of important reasons, as explained here by Ryan Anderson, Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
In conclusion, for those who are struggling for discernment about this critical election, I believe that moral clarity is available. You can choose an admittedly flawed but redeemed conservative with a personal testimony and virtually unchallenged voting record on life, liberty and limited government, who identifies with a political party which values those same principles. Your other choice is a likable man that has admirable qualities and a 51% voting record on life, liberty, and limited government, but who identifies with a party that espouses values which are not in line with Louisiana’s traditional principles.
As for my family, the choice is quite clear. May God bless and guide you in your own decision, and may God bless the great state of Louisiana!
In His Service,
Rev. Gene Mills