Christian Viewers Await President's State of the Union Address

As President Bush speaks on Tuesday night in the annual State of the Union Address, Christian observers will be watching to see what how the president’s priorities match up with their biblical viewpoints.

From hot button topics such as the ongoing war, terrorism, the economy, and “values,” the President will outline his vision for the nation in the coming year, conscious of upcoming elections for lawmakers and how he can best communicate his agenda.

"I'm going to remind people we're living in historic times, and that we have a chance to make decisions today that will help shape the direction of events for years to come," the president said last week at a news conference, which began with a preview of his upcoming State of the Union address.

"I'm going to continue to talk about an optimistic agenda that will keep – that will remind folks we've got a responsibility to lead."

During the 2004 elections, the “values voter” came to be known as representative of conservative Americans who valued morality and tradition. Among Christian conservatives, including evangelicals, the morality issue extended into opposition of abortion, same-sex marriage, and medical research involving human embryos.

The president and the elected lawmakers from the Republican Party have largely been in sync with conservative Christians on moral issues.

In addition, the president's vow last year to “do what it takes” to help disaster victims in the Gulf states due to Hurricane Katrina, and an increasingly visible fight by the administration against the AIDS epidemic in Africa have placed the president in the vicinity of the concerns of progressive Christians who hold social justice as one of their top “values.”

In his preview last Thursday, the president alluded to values as the key to combating some of those issues, including disease, disaster and the dignity of human life.

“I will talk about the values that are important for our country,” Bush said. “I'm going to remind people we show the character and compassion of America by taking focused action to confront disease and to help devastated areas of our country that have been ... devastated by natural disasters, and ensure that medical research is conducted in a manner that recognizes the dignity of every human life."

At a gathering of conservatives on Friday in a Washington event called the “Conservative State of the Union,” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins addressed the issues of traditional families, abortion and religious freedom and others as leading concerns in the coming legislative year.

“The Republican Party’s pledge to protect marriage, rein in activist judges, clean up the airwaves, protect young women and unborn children, and preserve our religious freedoms led a majority of Americans to entrust the GOP with the leadership of the Republic,” he said.

“That trust, however, is not unconditional; it is dependent upon the Republican majority and a small but growing bloc of courageous Democrats to fight to uphold the values that they campaigned so aggressively upon,” he added, urging legislation to address those areas.

Meanwhile, progressive Christians will be listening to the president on Tuesday to see if their moral views, which encompass relief to the poor families across the United States, are also addressed.

Jim Wallis, founder and editor of Sojourners magazine, has been actively campaigning to open up a biblical moral agenda among evangelicals that includes opposition to poverty, the death penalty, protection of the environment, and opposition to war in Iraq, which he said in one interview that most Christians around the world oppose.

“People of faith are crying out for a bold moral vision for our nation that embraces the biblical principles of economic and racial justice, healthy families and strong communities, a real consistent ethic of life, peace-making, and caring for God’s creation,” he declared in a released statement.

On Tuesday, night, Sojourners will be gathering in groups around their televisions in over 160 locations around the country, inviting their local media to listen to their reaction to the President’s speech.

Also that night at FRC’s offices in Washington, conservatives will be gathering, watching and waiting as the president delivers his message.