New York City election headlines have been dominated by the bizarre escapades of the lecherous Anthony Weiner or the suave front-running of Christine Quinn. Social conservatives in the Big Apple can easily feel depressed by the City’s self-satisfaction with libertinism. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 6 to 1, and Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota is hardly a social conservative.
Enter a new wave of economically liberal Christian pastors running as Democrats and taking a strong stand to uphold religious liberty, the sanctity of marriage, and the right to life. Largely Evangelical, these leaders from New York’s poorer and largely-minority neighborhoods are led by Fernando Cabrera and Rick del Rio. As Emily Belz reports, ten candidates for the City’s 51-seat council meet this description.
At a forum Tuesday evening hosted by Christian Union, Rev. Cabrera spoke of the Christian calling to politics in terms of taking up a cross to lead out of love for neighbor. He testified to the callousness of a dominant secularism incapable of seeing the impact of Christian faith on restoring dignity in marginalized communities, and the life-and-death consequences of a broken marriage culture made visible when young men turn to violence on the streets. Energized to enter politics after congregations across New York were banned from renting space in public schools in 2012—a decision that has since been reversed—Cabrera spoke with a profound love for his Bronx community and pointed out that far too few politicians have any familiarity or sympathy with the lives of the poor.
His remarks brought to mind R.R. Reno’s arguments from the August/September issue that the moral ideology reigning among elite liberals constitutes a “War on the Weak”:
Rigid, one-size-fits-all rules are eliminated and people are allowed to decide personal, private matters for themselves. But as the legal strictures and social consensus in favor of life are relaxed, those who are confused, depressed, and vulnerable receive less protection and find less support. Freedom for the strong—the option of suicide for the active man who doesn’t want to suffer the indignities of a terminal disease, for example—is bought at the expense of the weak.
Joe Lhota has at least taken an encouraging stance on charter schools that could bring educational opportunity to impoverished communities. But more is needed, which is why it is so heartening to see renewal coming from godly men discontented with the New York status quo.