Archive for May 22nd, 2007

Political watchdawggieAs the 4th-year “silly season” approaches, we can expect religion and politics to start inter-mingling yet again.  As a Christian and a voter, weighing ones civic responsibility with the give-and-take nature of politicians, 2008 sizes up to be a year of few clear choices.  To wit:

Democrats: For many Christians, the Democrats support of abortion rights is enough to eliminate any thoughts of voting for one (I never have in a general election – though where I live there are few Democrats who run for local positions, as ‘Democrat’ and ‘Communist’ are semi-synonymous.)  Besides this, the D stance on homosexual marriage, religion in the public square and economic issues rule many of their national candidates out for Christians.

In 2008, Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner, and as Jezebel reborn (remembering her tenure as First Lady), she’s one of the clear candidates that most church-going folks I know would rather eat broken glass than vote for.  Her stances on family issues, her hostility toward those serving in uniform (on a personal level), and her involvement in the vast corruptions of her husband’s administration make her unpalatable, to say the least.

Barak Obama, who has received some discussion here as a result of his speaking on AIDS at World AIDS Day at Saddleback, is currently in a distant second place (according to some polls). His stances on key issues, coupled with his relative inexperience make him a weak candidate.  His ‘newness’ (compared to the rest of the field) and more techno-savvy image have given him a boost to this point, but – looking beneath the surface – he’s not someone I’d ever consider voting for.

Republicans:  Despite suggestions to the contrary, God is not a Republican.  While a number of issues claimed by the GOP are much more compatible with a Christian worldview (conservative judicial philosophy, family-friendly policy, pro-life, emphasis on personal responsibility and private/local autonomy in caring for the poor), their record at actually carrying out laws and policies congruent with their stated values is, to be kind, wanting (at best).  In many ways, Christians have become to the Republican party what African Americans have become to the Democratic party – a crowd to which you have to pay lip service, but whose interests don’t need to be served.

In 2008, the front-runners appear to be John McCain (whose policy record is all over the map, and who has some stated antipathy toward Christians in the public square), Rudy Guiliani (who is anti-life, socially liberal and has a number of personal issues that can be paralleled with a certain ex-governor of Arkansas), a Mitt Romney (a Mormon with a mixed policy record).

Of the candidates running, or considering running, the only one I can even register a pulse of interest for is Fred Thompson, who – ironically – does not make his religion (Protestant Christian) a political issue, but whose voting record in much more in line with what I believe to be supportive of the interests of Christians.  He’s not declared himself a candidate yet, but appears to be likely to do so.  Regardless, though, he’s not a front-runner.

A Christian’s Response

I know that there are Christians who, for a number of reasons, do not participate in politics – whether at the voting booth or in office – and that is their choice.  I, however, believe that, as a Christian, we should participate as individuals, but that we should be VERY careful in trying to have the church take on the role of a political spokesman.  It does not behoove us to be linked to any one political party, because we serve Christ – not man or manmade organizations. 

I believe that Christians can and should run for public office, and should maintain a high level of integrity in such offices which they may obtain.  However, with the compromise required in office and the conflicting weighing and balancing of governing, it is dangerous to make assumptions that a Christian in a governing position will automatically be governing as Christ would.  Changing lives happens one person at a time, led by God in community with His people – not via political movements – which is something I think many American Christians have forgotten.

As an individual voter, I think that personal character and a demonstrated record of support and action on issues which most align with Christian principals.  The rub comes when there are trade-offs to make, which the 2008 race is sizing up to force us to make, more so than usual…

2008 will be an interesting year…

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