Barack Obama and Donald Miller – Millers Reasons on Why He’s Voting for Barack Obama

This is a thought provoking interview with Donald Miller, especially, as we are, literally, days away from this election. It’s good to know why you’re casting the vote for your candidate and I think Donald Miller presents some great thoughts in this interview.

This interview was done through a blog that he founded called The Burnside Writers Blog. I’d love to hear your comments on what you read here. Do you think he brings some good things to the table in this interview? Does it make you look at the election any differently? What did you disagree with in this interview and WHY (back it up, don’t just disagree)?


READ AWAY and sound off-

Donald Miller is the best-selling author of Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts and To Own a Dragon. He is currently writing his fifth book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which explores the principles of story-telling in our lives. A feature film is in the works based on Blue Like Jazz, and Don is also in collaboration with the filmmakers behind Nooma for a film series titled Transitus. Don also founded The Mentoring Project (formerly The Belmont Foundation), a non-profit organization which is recruiting ten-thousand mentors through one-thousand church-based mentoring programs.

Don is currently touring with the Obama campaign’s “Faith, Family and Values Tour”, conducting forums in battleground states. On Tuesday, Don spoke in Colorado Springs. We wanted to give him a chance to explain why he made the controversial decision to campaign for Barack Obama.

(Full disclosure: Donald Miller is also the founder of the Burnside Writers Collective, and currently serves as an advisor for us when time allows. He is an invaluable friend and supporter. That said, thoughtful critics, both independent and conservative, have raised some good points in objection to Don’s decision to campaign for Obama. The following questions were drafted by Burnside editors Jordan Green and John Pattison.)

Burnside: Can you lay out your biggest reasons for supporting Barack Obama?

Donald Miller:
First off, I know this is an odd thing for somebody in my position to do, to support a candidate for President. But I do feel this candidate is unique. Barack is the only candidate willing to talk about his faith in Jesus. Other candidates are reluctant, but Obama is not. He is the only one who has consistently talked about the cross, about redemption, and about repentance. Many white evangelicals have a misconception about Barack…they believe that because he is a Democrat, he cannot be a Christian. But times have changed, culture has changed, and political parties change. So one of the reasons I support Barack is because he is my Christian brother, and other Christians are rejecting him.

But that has little to do with his candidacy. In short, there are a few issues I agree with Barack on.

Senator Obama is going to move us past the impasse in our cultural war, something I think of as a cultural Vietnam. On the issue of abortion, he is the only candidate who has a plan to reduce the number of abortions. John McCain’s only plan is the same old trick: say that you are pro life and offer no plan at all other than to criminalize abortion. I simply think that plan hasn’t worked, and we have to face that fact and look for other ways to make progress.

I realize this is controversial, that there are many who would rather vote for a pro-life candidate and keep the abortion rate the same, on principle. And like them I believe in the sanctity of life, I simply think we need to begin making progress, and Barack is offering progress. He is also standing up to his own party on the issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party. I also see this as progress. I do wish we could end abortion completely, but the Republicans have not spelled out a realistic plan to do so, and until they do, I won’t vote for a candidate who simply throws us a pro-life line and no plan. It seems insincere.

But let me add this: I do wish Obama were pro-life. His plan to reduce the rate of abortion is a great step for the party, but I also wish he would defend the unborn to a greater degree.

However, at this point, in this election, with these two candidates, I think progress will be made with Barack. Not enough progress, but some progress, especially within the Democratic party, who may soften their stand on the sanctity of life.

A personal connection with me regarding Obama involves the initiative he is taking with responsible fatherhood. He has already drawn up legislation to change the welfare state to stop rewarding families whose fathers leave, and is working to change the economic structure so fathers who stay with their families are given tax relief. This has been an age-old problem that was written about in George Gilder‘s book Sexual Suicide. (Gilder’s) book is a Conservative’s economic manifesto, but Barack sees a lot of value in Gilder’s ideas. But because Barack is a Democrat, Conservatives are unable to even consider his ideas.

BWC: A lot of folks view overturning Roe v. Wade as a pipe dream. But electing John McCain could very likely tip the scales of the Supreme Court toward the conservative side, and Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Do you think the impact of Barack Obama’s plans on abortion would outweigh an outright reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision?

Don: If McCain cared about the issue of abortion enough, he would move forward on the issue. He might draft a constitutional amendment that would make abortion specifically unconstitutional, the way George W. Bush talked of doing with gay marriage. George W. Bush could have done something like this when he had majority votes in both houses of Congress.

But I feel like they didn’t touch the issue because it would have cost them politically. I simply do not see McCain’s stand on abortion being as strong as conservatives think it is. He changed his mind on the issue only a few years ago, in fact. I think it’s a ploy to get votes. If McCain were strong on the issue, he would call it murder, saying abortion should be criminalized, and perhaps Cindy McCain would talk about the issue. Sara Palin would talk about how abortion should be criminalized.

Instead, they throw the pro-life line at us and go on doing nothing. It should make conservatives furious, but it doesn’t. It’s like the argument has become a game about racking up rhetorical points, rather than saving lives. I see this as hypocritcal, and I support Obama’s plan to make actual headway on this issue. The future may change this for me, but at this point, I see some hope on the horizon.

BWC: Is there something to be learned from the failures of the Religious Right? For 30 years, they’ve aligned themselves with the Republican party with very little to show…are you concerned your decision to campaign is just a pendulum swing to the Left?

Don: I don’t know that there is little to show. Religious leaders are very powerful, and Republicans cater to them and cannot win without the religious vote. That said, Republicans have pitched us two issues and reduced the Christian worldview to Gay Marriage and Abortion.

They had to do that because their economic policies are Biblically debatable. And occasionally there are battles won on the two fronts they’ve given the white church, but if you are asking if it was worth it to sell the church to the Republican Party, I would say no. Abortion is still legal, and many Democrats oppose gay marriage. So I don’t see the use in staying in this impasse any longer.

BWC: Some church leaders advocate an “Endorse no one, advise everyone” policy. Do you see yourself breaking from this mindset?

Don: I suppose so. I intend to vote for Obama, so I would consider that an endorsement. I feel free to talk about that. I don’t have a cynicism about elected leaders. I think they are human, that The Fall happened to them just like it happened to me. I recently went to Uganda with a diplomat who, because of his rank and power, could start the court system up in the north, and get kids out of prison who should have gotten off with time served. There is so much good that only diplomats can do.

I think it is very fashionable to remain independent right now, but I don’t see the use. I am willing to look uncool to help the first African-American become President, and to have a strong, Christian leader in the White House. Besides, if I were not willing to work alongside somebody, I doubt they’d be calling to ask for my advice. I see this as a historical race, and I want to be willing to take some heat as an early adapter. And there are many early adapters.

Most evangelicals polled will vote for Barack. It is only the very conservative, mostly white suburban churched who are leaning toward McCain. Today on the news I heard a pastor say you could not possibly be a Christian and vote for Barack Obama. I cringed when I heard it, because yesterday in Colorado I met with about thirty African-American pastors who love Jesus and know Jesus, who will be voting for Barack. I wondered what they might think when they hear something like that, an angry white man telling them they do not know Jesus, and that they are going to hell. When we pick up a bullhorn and speak from within our insular communities, without so much as talking to people who come from another perspective, we do a great deal of damage. I don’t want to be a part of that. But I don’t think my endorsement of Barack is quite like that. I am not saying to the church that they do not know Jesus unless they vote for Barack, or that they are going to go to hell or anything. I am simply saying I am voting for Barack, and explaining why.

BWC: Do you see a difference between voting for a candidate and campaigning for a candidate?

Don: I see a difference socially. We consider it patriotic to vote, but unfashionable to campaign. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. I want to be on the right side of history on this one. Ethically, I do not believe it is wrong to campaign. Biblically, I don’t think it’s wrong either. It just doesn’t look cool, that’s all.

Twenty years from now, when my children asked what I did during this historical campaign, I want to tell them that I went out and worked, made calls, went door to door, and was able to stump for Barack. There are many in my parents generation who regret not being able to say that they worked hard during the civil rights movement, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.

BWC: You’ve mentioned the goal of ending the violent rhetoric of the “Culture War”. While the division of America has been perpetuated by both sides, a statement like “Stop The Culture War” seems more directed at conservatives, and could be viewed as rhetoric in and of itself. How, practically, do we bring about an end to that sort of language? Do you think the values on either side of the culture war are truly in conflict?

Don: I don’t intend that statement toward conservatives alone. I think both sides feel like the other side is the enemy. But I know both sides. And both sides have very good people working hard to do what they feel is right. I think we have to make it clear that because we support one candidate doesn’t mean we hate the other. I don’t hate John McCain. I like him, in fact. But when I do the math, Obama is my candidate.

I hate the negative advertisements just like everybody else. But those advertisements work on the ignorant, and it gets simple thinkers heated up. We just have to have the discipline to be civil. Many of my friends will vote for McCain, and members of my family too. But it doesn’t matter to me. Family comes first, and so do friends. When I’m on my deathbed, Barack Obama and John McCain won’t be there, but my friends and family will. So they come first, and they are more important. I just won’t let myself get too heated about this stuff. It’s not worth it.

BWC: Are Christians participating in the electoral process are being forced to choose “the lesser of two evils”? I don’t mean to say Barack Obama or John McCain are evil, but supporting either side seems to demand a compromise of our beliefs on some level. Maybe our anti-abortion stance supersedes our beliefs on war, and vice versa.

Don: I think this is basically true, but I’m not drawn to the negative tone of that popular phrase. I don’t think John McCain or Barack Obama are evil. I think they are both good men. But the fall happened, and so things here on earth are messy and no leader is going to be perfect until Christ comes back. Until then, we educate ourselves on the issues, do some careful math, and vote for a candidate that we think will govern the best.

19 responses to “Barack Obama and Donald Miller – Millers Reasons on Why He’s Voting for Barack Obama

  1. I went to see Don speak in Chapel Hill, NC on this little tour for Barack. It was very insightful, and he very humbly spelled out the same things outlined in the interview. As an undecided voter – he gave me a lot to think about. I blogged about it back when I saw him, plus I got to meet Don and get a picture with him, so that was cool.

  2. Interesting.

  3. great interview… thanks for posting this Wurzell.

  4. Pingback: Democrat On Best Political Blogs » Blog Archive » Barack Obama and Donald Miller - Millers Reasons on Why He’s Voting for Barack Obama

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  6. Personally, I despise the two party system we have in America today, and I evaluate a candidate based on their alignment with the values that I hold which I base on the Bible.

    With that said, I don’t agree with Miller. While many people can call themselves a Christian, there should be some ‘fruit’/evidence of it. Hearing Obama’s comments on Biblical interpretation as well as seeing him at the Saddleback forum, I’d have to say his answers don’t sound like those of one who is a follower of Jesus. And Wilson’s point about Obama’s plan to reduce abortions lacks evidence to support it. Obama’s own voting record shows he has rejected every attempt to limit abortion in any way.

    I think Randy Alcorn gives a much more meaningful argument in his article at http://randyalcorn.blogspot.com/2008/10/im-not-voting-for-man-im-voting-for.html and for me this issue does totally disqualify Obama.

    I don’t understand how any follower of Christ can vote for a candidate who is not opposed to this legalized murder of innocent babies (i.e. God is life). If we as Christians are to make important to us what is important to God, I think this would be unequivocal.

  7. We live in a very cynical world. On one hand we want the president to be a perfect human being and stand for everything we believe Christians should stand for. And yet we associate with non-Christians every day and some of them are our best friends, our family members and sometimes our spouse.

    What I believe is dangerous is voting on one or two issues for president. I know people that voted for Bush because they just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for someone like Kerry that didn’t oppose same sex marriage. Look where we are today. California has gay marriage and Bush hasn’t done anything to repudiate the states’ actions.

    You can disagree with Obama and you should. While I plan to vote for him I don’t agree with him 100% and I shouldn’t. Even Peter questioned Jesus.

    Some people won’t vote for Obama because he agrees with abortion on some level. That’s an argument we could have forever without ever agreeing but to not vote for him on a single issue, no matter how convicted you be about it, is just a dangerous as not voting at all. I think an issue like abortion is still a very personal matter. The Republican party would rather NO ONE have an abortion. That sounds great on paper but in reality we’re not all Christians and we still need to be respectful of a personal a choice as abortion.

    I don’t mean to preach politics but if McCain wants to lessen the impact of government it’s not going to happen by passing a mandate on abortions as it’s basically the government taking over a part of our lives and the choices we make with our own bodies. That’s a slippery slope because if they can do that then what’s to stop them from taking over other parts of our personal lives?

    My point is that we’re never going to agree with each other and we shouldn’t but we can disagree with respect and see the person as more than one or two specific issues and still back them up. You can love a gay uncle, an alcoholic father and a promiscuous sibling or friend and pray that your voice will be heard and that they’re hear the voice of God and change their ways.

    Right now more than ever we need to pray for the future of our country. Regardless of who makes it into office we must pray that our country makes a turn for the better.

    God Bless.

    - L

  8. Mark,

    Thanks for the response. I appreciate the respectful dialog.

    I disagree with your premise though. I think it is absolutely appropriate to disqualify a candidate on a single issue when that single issue is a moral issue (which is the point of the Alcorn blog by the way). While non-moral issues leave a lot of room for opinion and conflicting view points, moral issues should not – at least for those of a common faith.

    Let me use an extreme example to illustrate my point. If you were to agree with all the policies of a candidate except his support of the legalized murder of everyone of a certain race, would that one position disqualify him?

    I’m thankful you shared your views on abortion, but am saddened to see them. I can never view abortion as a personal matter or a personal choice because of when I believe life begins. The Bible teaches that life begins at conception, something that I’m glad to see even the Catholic church starting to be more vocal about. Therefore, abortion is the murder of another human being. How can that be a personal choice? And the slippery slope we’re headed down is expanding murder to other situations where it is inconvenient to care for that life.

    The question comes down to – is the embryo/fetus a living human being? If so, how could abortion be right? If it’s not, why even work to limit it? Why limit it at all if it’s not a life? But if it is a life, the government should absolutely protect that life, and punish breakers of the law. That’s one of the responsibilities God has placed on government (Rom 13).

    By the way, these aren’t rhetorical questions. If you do believe an embryo/fetus is a living human being, I’m very interested in how you can view the murder or protection of the life as being a personal choice.

    I once had a well-meaning Christian friend say to me ‘you can’t legislate morality’. While that sounds good on the surface, when you think about the statement it makes no sense. That’s exactly what laws do. We have laws against lying, stealing, rape, murder, and other areas of morality. Just because not everyone in the country is a Christian doesn’t mean we should have no ‘moral laws’ and rely simply on people changing their ways after meeting Jesus. I agree that we should love people and show them Jesus, but there are some moral actions that are and should be illegal.

    As a side note, I also find it interesting that many well intentioned Christians advocate strong social programs for government when God placed the responsibility for these areas on the church and not on the government (Matt 25). We as Christians need to be feeding the hungry, housing and clothing the poor, caring for the sick and imprisoned, and taking care of widows and orphans. We see this division between responsibilities of the government and responsibilities of the church reflected in the writings of the founding fathers and why they structured the constitution and the government in the way that they did.

    Robert

  9. It sounds like some of you guys have drunk the “Kool-Aid”. Brian I love you but, Donald Miller’s letter on why he’s supporting Obama is filled with deception. However, I believe it’s because he shares Obama’s philosophy/theology (which I believe is wrong/false). What is Obama’s plan to reduce abortion? I went to his own website and found nothing but the fact that he is vehement in his support for a “woman’s right to choose” and is against any attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade. In fact he wants to expand woman’s ability to receive an abortion and wants to have federal funds pay for these “medical procedures”. We know from his voting record that he is more than “pro-choice” he is “pro-abortion”. He voted 3 times as a Illinois state senator to not require healthcare professionals to give aid and assistance to a born child who survived a botched abortion. He is one of the few Democrats that has voted, every time, against every bills that would ban partial birth abortions. How does that “elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party”, as Miller says? Miller said that the Republicans have done nothing but under the Bush presidency and the increase of abstinence training, statistically, abortions have gone down across the nation (look it up).

    “But let me add this: I do wish Obama were pro-life. His plan to reduce the rate of abortion is a great step for the party, but I also wish he would defend the unborn to a greater degree”
    How can Miller say this and continue to believe that he is being faithful to God’s calling for us, as believers, to protect and preserve human life????

    I believe Miller has been seduced by Liberation Theology (important to research this theology) and there is a sense of it in “Blue Like Jazz”. Obama has spent the last 20 years in a church that preaches Black Liberation Theology and it is revealed in all his social and economic programs. Economies can not and never have grown from “the bottom up” which is what Obama has declared he would institute as president. He is promoting a socialistic type of society consistent with BLT.

    Miller says that Obama is “willing to talk about his faith… the cross redemption and repentance.” We’ve all heard and seen the tapes of Rev. Wright but have we heard about the Cross??? Black Liberation Theology is very committed to “redemption”, redemption of the poor who is repressed by the rich, and “repentance”, but only by the rich who are the “evil” in our society today (I’m oversimplifying the theology because of the lack of time/space look up what Wright believes!). It is foolish to say that Obama is a Muslim, but just as we doubt Romney’s Christianity as a Mormon, we should doubt Obama’s as a “Black Liberation Christian”.

    I know Miller believes in the Matt. 25 way of living and Obama has referenced that too. Jesus told us not to judge hearts, but to examine people’s “fruit.” Look at Obama’s tax returns. In ’06 the Obama’s gave 6% of their gross income to charity, in ’05 they gave 4% and each year prior they gave less than 1%. He has a half brother, that he speaks fondly of in his book, living in Kenya on $12 a year ($24 would double his income – $100 a year is the poverty level in that country) and he has never sent him a dime. He has an aunt that lives in public housing in Boston who received housing even though she is in the U.S. illegally.

    Don’t just believe Donald Miller. Jesus said: Matt. 24:23 “Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t pay any attention. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform great miraculous signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. 25 See, I have warned you.

    I have more but if this is too long you all won’t read it!

    Pastor David Wells (dedub@integrity.com)

  10. Please see the following website:
    http://www.matthew25.org/paf/index.htm

    It deals extensively with some of your concerns.

  11. So are you (whoever this is (12:41 post)) saying that Obama is “pro-life?” And will pursue pro-life issues? And appoint pro-life judges?

    This “matthew 25.org” is publishing Obama’s public comments and prove that he is a great politician. Just like his answer at the Saddleback forum when he said it was “above my pay-grade” and avoided answering the question.

    Look at Obama’s website and see if you can see even a flavor of the “matthew25.org” in it?!

  12. I read more of the “matthew25.org” website and all these quotes were in front of abortion sensitive audiences. When he was talking to a not so sensitive audience he said that if one of his daughters got pregnant he would want them to live with a “mistake”.

  13. Sorry I missed the “not”

    I read more of the “matthew25.org” website and all these quotes were in front of abortion sensitive audiences. When he was talking to a not so sensitive audience he said that if one of his daughters got pregnant he would not want them to live with a “mistake”.

  14. I have to strongly disagree with Miller, and agree with the comments left by David Wells above who said that Donald Miller’s letter about why he is supporting Obama is filled with deception. I also agree with Ronald’s comments above. In addition to everything David Wells & Robert said above in the comment section, Obama has mentioned that he also wants to pass some sort of Hate Crimes law, which would essentially ban all scripture being read and taught in church that says that homosexuality is a sin. He also wants to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine which would prevent people like James Dobson or other talk radio people from discussing scripture or even just plain conservative views. It would require that they bring on people with opposing views so let’s say that James Dobson wants to talk about creation and how God made the earth, an atheist who has differing views would have to come on and say why he disagrees and share his point of view, which many say will shut talk radio down.

  15. Sorry, I forgot something…it’s too late now as far as voting is concerned, but David Freddoso wrote an excellent, factual book about Obama, his character and his voting record. His voting record in the senate clearly proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is NOT pro values, life, & family. Also, Obama is a Christian but sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 yrs listening to hate filled, racial, anti-America comments. My personal decision to not vote for Obama goes far beyond just a single issue like abortion or gay marriage.

  16. Freedom Of Choice Act

    Obama says, the first thing he plans to do as president is sign the Freedom Of Choice Act, which lifts all bans and restrictions on all abortions, including partial birth abortions & parental notifications. The website listed, matthew25.org has FALSE info about Obama and his stance on abortion. I posted one youtube video where you can hear in his own words where he is planning on doing this, but in addition to this one there are many more youtube videos where he proudly proclaims his goal to allow every woman the freedom of choice to have an abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

  17. I would like to hear Donald Miller’s comments on how Obama is going to reduce abortions because of his work in the communities when he (Obama) takes the lead in signing an ex order to allow abortions in foreign countries funded by American tax dollars?

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/first100days/2009/01/21/obama-lift-ban-funding-groups-providing-abortions-overseas/

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