Daily Planet, 1/2015

This past Election Day, I was handing out sample ballots with Democratic candidates highlighted. One man refused my offer – but when he had passed me perhaps 15 feet, he turned around and raised one arm with forefinger pointing to the sky.

“God will judge you for what you’re doing,” he said.

I may have said something like, “Okaaay.”  He surprised me. After years of electioneering, this was my first condemnation for being a Democrat.

I don’t make light of this encounter. It was an isolated skirmish in a much bigger war – the civil war that’s raging today in North Carolina.

Ours is not a shooting war, like the big Civil War or the Patriot-Tory sub-war during the Revolution. Those were wars about pure politics: independence from England and independence from the United States.

Our civil war today is about righteousness.   Christian against Christian.

My Election Day finger-pointer belongs to those Christians who believe that homosexuality and abortion are the great sins of our time. They base that belief on the Ten Commandments, the Apostle Paul’s First Corinthians 6:10-11 and Leviticus 18 and 20. These Christians vote Republican. I’ll call them Red Christians.

On the other side, Blue Christians hold rallies called “Moral Mondays.” Their idea of morality is based in the many teachings of Jesus, such as Matthew 25:34-40, where we’re told to help and take care of the sick, the needy, even those in prison.

So why is this a civil war? Why isn’t it just a difference of opinion? After all, they share the same basic faith. Red pastors of course teach Jesus; Blue pastors teach Paul.

Why? Because the two sides don’t just have competing ideas of sin and righteousness.   They take their views over into politics, where the stakes are nothing less than the future of North Carolina.

The core political issue is where the power of the state should be exercised. Should the state intervene on behalf of the poor, children and the mentally ill? Or should the state’s power be used against homosexuals and abortionists?

We’re not in a time of friendly difference of opinion and problem-solving. One side wins, and one side loses.

Civil wars are like that. In the French Wars of Religion in the 16th century, Establishment Catholics and Protestant Huguenots gushed blood for 25 years.   In the end, a half-million Huguenots left France.

In North Carolina, the sides are competing for the power to make their view of righteousness the law.

If Blue Christians get power, they enact legislation that favors the poor and children’s education (which they did until they lost power in 2011). If Red Christians win – and they have won three times in a row – they move to effectively close abortion clinics (which they’ve done) and ban gay marriage (which they’ve done).

The First Corinthians passage mentioned above gives perspective: “Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Red Christians would see the man-with-man part and want the state to act against homosexuals. I, as a Blue Christian, see “the greedy” and do not want the state to favor the rich and powerful, who back Republicans to gain tax benefits.

In North Carolina, it’s clear who’s winning. The massive Red Christian vote has joined with secular Republicans who ideologically favor big business, and budgets slap down the poor.

Quite literally, and not a pun, it’s a war for the soul of North Carolina.