If a Mormon becomes a nominee for president, people who vote for him should not do so because he is a “Christian.” The Mormon “Jesus” is as different from the Jesus of the Bible as the Muslim Allah is different from the God of the Bible. If people vote for him, it should be on the basis of his qualifications for leadership. Now that I have your attention, let me make a point or two about faith and politics.
There are pastors in our community, some of them friends of mine, who believe they should use their pulpits to tell their people who to vote for. They seem to believe this is an effective way to get Christians elected to public office.
If it were 1976, I wonder if these activist pastors would line up behind born-again Jimmy Carter. I wonder if in 1992 they were endorsing Bill Clinton because he was a member of a Southern Baptist Church. I doubt if they’d support either of them today. Who would those Oklahoma pastors support for president if someday the choice were between a conservative Buddhist and liberal Baptist?
It’s a good thing for Christians, and for qualified people of other faiths, to run for office and to let their moral values influence their decisions. But believers should not be elected on the basis of their religious preferences alone. Nor should they serve in government to seek a favored position for one religion over another. They are in public service to work for justice for all citizens, whatever their religious beliefs.
If you and I want to project Christian influence into the political process, and we should, here are some ways to do it.
- Prayer. Pray daily for our president and his family. Pray for all the candidates. There is much to admire about these dedicated people who are willing to sacrifice so much for the country. Pray for God’s will to be done in the primaries and in the November elections.
- Humility. None of us has all the answers to the vexing problems facing America. From immigration to the limits of government, from education to economics, a fresh crisis is thrust at our leaders every day. How would you like to occupy the Oval Office?
- Service. It is a documented fact that faith-based and religiously-affiliated non-profits frequently accomplish far more with fewer resources than their government-sponsored counterparts. Spiritually-motivated volunteers are changing the world. Get involved in serving others in the name of Jesus.
- Civility. Make a promise to yourself that you will not slander or demonize people who disagree with you politically. Jesus’ words, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you. …Treat people exactly as you would like them to treat you,” have not been suspended during the current political campaign. The circular firing squad that is the primary election season has made me nostalgic for President Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment which applies to all public discourse.
- Thinking. Don’t let the TV talking heads shape your convictions. Their main job is to find an angle to keep you watching so they can sell advertising! Don’t let the pompous pundits on talk radio do your thinking for you. Instead read the candidates’ positions on the key issues and prayerfully make up your own mind.
- Voting. Don’t boycott the ballot box if you don’t find a candidate who matches up with your beliefs on everything. Vote for the candidate who will do what is best for America. As you seek the wisdom of God, be guided by your mind as well as your emotions.
As citizens who are motivated by Christian values, we need to remember the Lord’s Word to the Jewish exiles in Babylon: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). For the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity, the Jewish people were forced to live in a pagan society ruled by men whose religious beliefs differed from theirs in every way possible.
Yet the Lord took care of them, heard their prayers and blessed them in an alien culture. I believe the Lord will do the same for us as we seek the peace and prosperity of post-Christian America, whether the U.S. president is a Christian or not.