Rev. Rob Schenck to Evangelicals: Stop Voting Based on Religion

Rev. Rob Schenck, the prominent evangelical leader and personal minister to politicians in Washington, D.C., has written a letter to Iowa Christians, urging them to reconsider religious beliefs as the most important reason to vote for a 2012 presidential candidate.

Although the reverend said he was “disillusioned with both parties” and a registered Independent when interviewed by The Christian Post, Schenck’s letter takes an even more neutral approach to Iowa voters. He encouraged them to abandon the staunch position they have traditionally taken- namely one of voting for whichever candidate seems the most aligned with their moral views.

“My answer is simple: We should pick our candidates for president in the same way we pick our doctors- on their skills, experience, reputation, and approach to our problems,” wrote Schenck.

Schenck goes on to point out that “Evangelical doctrine is not a litmus test” of whether a candidate will eventually turn out to become a great president. The 53-year-old reverend highlighted that George Bush won the evangelical vote by a large margin although he was of the United Methodist denomination. Other presidents winning the Evangelical vote without being Evangelical included Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan.

Although moral issues like the sanctity of life, marriage, and other family issues will never be ignored by Iowa voters or the caucus, Schenck believes that the economy is a more “immediate” need to be addressed.

The New Jersey native compared the political climate to a horrible accident: “When an EMT first gets to the scene… he has to treat those who are most hurt first,” said Schenck, likening the economy to the most badly injured victim.

Failing to do that and opting to vote based on moral qualms instead would be a mistake for the country, Schenck posits. He cites his contacts with pastors in all 50 states as proof: “People are hurting,” said the pastor, meaning that many voters are “blinded” by their financial woes. Tackling America’s economic issues first allows the space for voters to feel security, and return to addressing classical moral problems.

Though he advises evangelicals to reassess blindly voting for the seemingly most moral candidate, even Schenck has his misgivings about the moral failings of Newt Gingrich. During his time in Washington D.C., Schenck said he had personal contact with people who were “personally offended” with the way Gingrich treated them. This, in addition to his ethical violations, should cause Christians to “ask the tough questions” when considering the former Speaker of the House for president.

Rev. Schenck’s message to Iowa evangelicals and Christian voters at large can be summed up fairly concisely: choosing the next president should be done “prayerfully,” and “should not be taken lightly.”

Rev. Robert Schenck has been an evangelical minister for nearly 30 years, after converting to Christianity at 16. In addition to his duties to elected and appointed officials, he is the president of Faith and Action, a Christian outreach group, the president of the National Clergy Council, and participates in the Evangelical Church Alliance, one of the oldest Evangelical groups in the United States.