Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A Vision For Women and Politics

I was, at one time, a supporter of Vision Forum Ministries -- mostly in their early days. However, as the ministry's vision moved away from our own beliefs as a family, we decided it was time to support other vendors for our homeschool and family discipleship needs. Specific areas of major concern were their promotion of the writings of Robert Lewis Dabney without renouncing his belief that blacks were a morally inferior race, and their patriarchal beliefs derived from the Dominion Mandate. (You can listen to a podcast series on Patriarchy I recorded last fall with ThatMom, Karen Campbell, here.)

So it was with some interest that I read that a long time associate of Vision Forum and the Phillips family was running for public office. Matt Chancey and his wife, Jennie, have eight children and homeschool in Alabama. He is seeking to become president of the Public Service Commission and is in a run off for the Republican spot. It's not exactly a race that grabs my attention except for the fact that the published writings of Jennie, who is also affiliated with Vision Forum, appear to have become a campaign issue .

Jennie Chancey supports her husband's bid for public office, but from a biblical and historical perspective, she doesn't think she necessarily has the right to vote for him.

Instead of "one man, one vote," she believes in “one household, one vote."

Jennie Chancey does not believe in the divided household idea, whereby she and her husband could vote differently on an issue, thereby canceling each other's vote. Just as politicians are elected as representatives of the people, Chancey views her husband as the decision-maker in the household, but that doesn’t mean her views aren't heard.

More on Jennie Chancey's views on women and voting rights are at her site, Ladies Against Feminism.

The Chancey's may not support all the beliefs of Vision Forum, but the concern of some voters in Alabama is how much the Chancey's perspective on women will affect his ability to do his job if elected. Given that he's running for commissioner, their perspective on whether or not women should vote is not likely to be a major issue. But what about his ability to work with women, specifically those who have authority over him? Is Chancey open to women in the workplace?

He says yes, since he has worked under women, over them and beside them for years.
In fact, Matt Chancey met Jennie in the workplace. But their beliefs have since changed and the Chancey's now believe that the woman's sphere of dominion is strictly in the home, and that a woman who works outside that sphere is in sin and "blaspheming the word of God." Jennie wrote in an essay on working mothers published on the Vision Forum website,

"But a "sin" to leave it and work elsewhere? Them's hard words! People will get offended if we say a wife working outside of the home is a sin. Poor women who have to work will feel they are second-class Christians or looked down upon by their stay-at-home sisters in Christ. What about women whose husbands have abandoned them? But let's try to look at this without knee-jerking if we can. We are living under a cursed economy. We are not living under God's blessing. When the Church abandons "hard" teachings for soft words, the salt loses its savor and is trampled underfoot. When we follow pell-mell in the path of the "working world," straining after the "American Dream" income, we're going to fall into the same trap the rest of our culture is in: wives forced to work to make up a "shortfall," debt, divorce, children handed over to government schools, etcetera. And we're in it - knee-deep.

Where are the older women who are supposed to teach the younger ones how to be sober keepers at home? Oh, their children are all grown, and they have "nothing' to do, so they've gotten "real" jobs. What about the women who are to be "washing the feet of the saints" and "ministering to the poor."

Ummm... too busy earning that second income."

It's up to the voters in Alabama to decide if the Chancey's views are acceptable to them and if he will be able to separate his belief that women are in sin for working alongside him in the office (See Tenet #14). But Chancey seems to have political aspirations beyond the local level. He's campaigning as a "Ron Paul Republican" and was the Southest regional coordinator for Paul's bid for the Republican nomination. Chancey was also very active in Virginia politics. So a bid for the commissioners job in Alabama is probably a stepping stone to higher offices in the future.

I've taken some ribbing for bringing up Michelle Obama's public comments about her family life and how they might affect policy, but the more theocratic associations and views of the Chancey's are just as concerning to me; even if their actual decisions regarding family life are much closer to our own.

How much should a candidate's personal views on family life or those of their spouse be scrutinized and considered when evaluating them for office? Personally, how a candidate functions in his home tells me a great deal how he'll govern if elected. Given how much I've written here, I've probably killed any chances of my husband or I getting elected, but I'd still like to know what I'm up against if we do attempt it someday.

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