I understand that many people, especially in evangelical circles, have strong opinions one way or another about the answer to this question. For a variety of reasons, I am mostly staying away from political stuff on this blog during the election season. I do have one thing I feel very strongly about, though, that I decided to share. I reject simplistic answers to the question of who Jesus would vote for, and I’m not at all sure that it’s even a good question. I do believe, however, that Scripture gives ample guidance as to the attitude of Christians towards candidates for political office, whether we support those candidates or not.
Below is the text of an email I wrote several months ago. Lest this be (mis)interpreted as my endorsement of a particular candidate, I would like to point out that I wrote this email very early in the primaries when, between the two parties, about 10 candidates were in the race. I wrote it in response to a forward I received that was very defamatory towards Barack Obama and largely based on sensationalism, exaggerations, misinformation, and at least one outright lie. I reacted strongly to the forward.
Here’s my response:
Good political debate about the pros and cons of a particular presidential candidate is a healthy and important exercise. But we need to check things out for ourselves and debate issues based on facts, not propoganda that others are trying to get us to help spread. See this article on the previously forwarded email:
I understand that just because something is in the media does not mean it is a fact, but certain things can be verified, like whether Obama put his hand on the Koran when he was sworn into office, or if Obama refuses to salute the flag. Christians should be known above all others for being fair and truthful regarding all candidates, but I feel like sometimes we’re some of the worst. Defaming candidates with lies and half-truths is not a very good testimony…We need to be good about investigating things for ourselves, and not just taking someone else’s word.
I am not saying this as an endorsement of Obama; the truth is I have not yet decided who I will be voting for. But I think that as Christians we are called to fair treatment of the candidates. I have no problem with someone thinking it’s a bad (or good) idea to vote for Obama when there is reasonable, factual support for that opinion.
I’m getting this off my chest now, because if I don’t, all the email forwards that fly around are going to be driving me nuts by the time the elections roll around. Please understand that this isn’t an attack [on any individual]. I have been saying these same things in online forums and in a number of different conversations lately. I just want to encourage us to live to a higher standard this time around. This election season, let’s show an unbelieving world that Christ makes a difference in our lives.
In the political arena, I don’t think the biggest stumbling block for non-Christians is that Christians believe in God and (theoretically) want to see government run on His principles. I think the far bigger stumbling block is the distinctly un-Christian way we often conduct ourselves where politics is concerned. Let’s honor God with the way we act the rest of this election season. Remember, the way we treat people and the way we treat God can’t be divorced. He said, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40)