Elections have consequences, so the saying goes. The 2014 election is supposed to have major ramifications for America and right here in Oklahoma. We will vote on Oklahoma’s Governor and other statewide elected officials, numerous legislative races, as well as state questions and judicial races.
In modern elections, with the barrage of campaign marketing on TV and in print, and through fevered conversations on social media, it can be difficult to find out what a candidate truly believes on key issues.
That is why voter’s guides have become a valuable tool in offering a non-partisan look at all of the candidates. Each candidate—incumbent and challenger alike—is able to speak about the issues and answer the same questions.
In 2012, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Committee (ERLC), made up of pastors and lay people from across the state, created The Voter’s Guide for the Well-Informed Voter of Faith. In 2014, Oklahoma’s ERLC has done so again.
The ERLC worked with Equip Research, an independent research firm, to develop the wording of each question (see the insert). Each of the general election candidates were asked six questions on the key moral and ethical questions of the day, ranging from marriage to marijuana. After sending out the questionnaire in two mailings, one certified, and follow-up phone calls, 46 percent of officials responded.
While this election was home to an unusually high number of candidates who were unopposed and therefore chose not to respond, the participants’ responses were telling. Here are some interesting facts at a glance. Of those who responded:
• 19 percent were Democrats, 71 percent were Republicans and 9 percent were Independents.
• 93 percent agreed that individuals and businesses should be free to exercise their religious beliefs without government interference.
• 86 percent believe that marriage should be between one man and
• 89 percent believe in pro-life.
• 90 percent agree that the lottery has not had the desired positive effect promised to our education system.
• 88 percent believe that Oklahoma should not legalize marijuana.
• 92 percent of responders agree that the government needs to partner with churches and other nonprofit organizations to develop a more aggressive and comprehensive plan to combat human trafficking.
These results suggest that Oklahoma candidates—regardless of party affiliation or area of the state—share socially conservative viewpoints.
The one limitation on voter’s guides is the limited space. So in addition to responding to the Agree/Disagree/Unsure questions, candidates also were provided space to make additional comments, which are now published online at www.bgco.org/vote.
We trust this resource will be of value to Oklahoma Baptists and believers across the state. For the more we know about our elected officials, the better we can hold them accountable and also pray for them.