Many people have asked me who I endorse in the contest for President of the United States. I can understand the curiosity behind the question, but it’s way too early in the process to be able to tell who will be the best pro-family candidate out of all of the ones who are running.
In fact, the substance and spirit of Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas made clear to me that for those of us who support a pro-family agenda in 2016, the strength of the field dictates that it’s premature to coalesce behind a single candidate (as some Evangelical leaders have recently done). Unlike in some election cycles, there are several who clearly carry the “pro-family” banner.
The primary process is far from perfect, but it’s a healthy and necessary discussion. Our system is designed to be thoughtful and deliberative. Everyone is entitled to their perspective, but negotiating for a consensus candidate behind closed doors, given the depth of the current field, does a disservice to the broader faith community. We’re neither power brokers nor kingmakers. Wisdom suggests letting the process unfold and respecting the depth of the candidate’s respective convictions. Families across the country are watching as presidential candidates of both major political parties vie for their support. Every election is an important decision and this one represents a timely opportunity to re-examine the policies and direction of our nation. As Christians, we must approach this season of political discernment with a posture of humility.
I have already met with several of the presidential candidates and applaud their service and their devotion. As president of Focus on the Family, I will not endorse a candidate. Yet, Focus on the Family is uniquely positioned as a 501 (c)(3) organization to survey the coming election with a primary objective at the forefront: to assess what issues will most affect the family and what positions on those issues will bring both stability and opportunity to American households. I hope these considerations, in addition to ethical questions about character, leadership and commitment to moral ideals will shape the vote of every Christian who goes to the polls.
For us, decades of data underscore our biblical convictions that strong families are the backbone of the country. The heart of America is found in the family. Over the course of the last sixteen years, I have met with both President Barack Obama and President George W. Bush. Although both have fundamental ideological differences on a wide range of issues, both men told me that the single greatest problem facing this nation is the health and vitality of the family. As goes the family, so goes the United States. Sociologists are in agreement. Harvard professor Robert Putnam has famously declared that the American dream is in crisis because of the scourge of broken families. A weakening of the family structure through divorce, cohabitation and absent fathers is evidenced every day as we hear from and minister to hurting families. The next president must adopt policies that will strengthen, not weaken, this God-given institution.
We also believe that no nation can ultimately thrive unless it protects the most innocent and vulnerable. A deep and active respect for human life benefits families and the culture at large.
In addition, policies that promote one-man, one-woman marriage and the preservation of religious freedom for all are concerns that should be considered as we evaluate candidates.
In my opinion, many of this year’s candidates represent these policy positions well and have strong track records in implementing pro-family policies. Let’s welcome the primary process and allow it to unfold. In the end, we encourage all political parties and candidates to examine the impact of their policies and positions on all of society, but especially moms, dads and children.