Political Questions for Christians

March 20th, 2012

I’ve not been watching the battle for the United States Republican presidential nomination as closely as I did in previous election cycles, but I’ve seen enough to draw the conclusion that, barring some cataclysmic event in the GOP, Mitt Romney will be the party’s nominee. Republicans, after all, tend to nominate the person who’s “next in line” or a party “brand name”.

The big question on my mind is just how much of a role religion will play in the general election if Romney becomes the nominee. If that happens, this will be the scenario: the incumbent will be from a theologically liberal Christian tradition and the challenger will be from a quasi-Christian church.

Some will consider the label “quasi-Christian” offensive, but the fact is most Christian denominations don’t recognize the LDS Church as a legitimate part of historical Christianity. And the Latter-day Saints actually make it a practice to proselytize active Catholics and Protestants. So really, the LDS Church itself is as responsible as anyone for its exclusion from mainstream Christianity. But since faith is ultimately a personal matter, membership in the Mormon church doesn’t necessarily disqualify an individual from being a Christian. And attending or belonging to a mainstream Christian church isn’t what makes someone a Christian.

Both Mitt Romney and President Obama have both openly confessed a personal faith in Jesus Christ—as did George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush the elder, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter... the list goes on. But anyone can say they’re a Christian, and considering how religious the United States electorate is (compared to other Western nations), declaring oneself not a Christian probably wouldn’t be considered too wise politically.

Whether you’re someone who takes President Obama and Governor Romney at their word or you doubt the Christian faith of one or both candidates, here are some questions and ideas to consider as 2012 moves along:

  • If given the choice between a Christian candidate and a nonchristian one, should Christians vote for the candidate closer to their own political views or for the one they feel is more likely to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
  • Is electing a president more similar to appointing or calling a pastor or to hiring the CEO of a company?
  • Is it better to elect someone who’s currently “wrong” on many of the issues but will bring God into their decision-making process or someone who seems to have the issues figured out but has no Christian faith?
  • How much more seriously would you evaluate candidates’ faith and character if there were no political parties?
  • Are you letting your faith shape your political views or is it the other way around?
  • Is it reasonable to expect Christian government officials not to let their faith play a role in how they approach their duties?
  • Can a serious Christian isolate their faith from their professional or political life? Would that even be desirable if they could?
  • Who are you more uncomfortable around (or suspicious of)—those who share your faith but not your political views or those who share your political views but not your faith? The answer to this question could be an indicator of how much your political ideology may have become an idol for you.
  • Both political parties share some common goals, but they often disagree on how to go about achieving those goals. Most people want better education, less sickness, and a higher standard of living for more people. And practically no one wants people in poverty. That’s important to remember in our polarized society where political orthodoxy unfortunately seems to trump religious orthodoxy, even among many Christians.

The best way to change your mindset and get above the political fray is to commit to praying for both President Obama and Governor Romney regularly between now and Election Day. Prayer not only shapes and changes history, it has a way of changing the attitudes of those who pray. When you’re praying for someone consistently, even your enemy, it becomes much more difficult to speak of them in an attacking or disrespectful way.

We’re told in Scripture to seek God’s kingdom first, but when it comes to bringing in God’s kingdom, politics only gets us so far. This will be an extremely important election but we should take heart. No matter who wins, God will still be God.

So exercise the freedom to get involved in the political process this year and vote your conscience, but don’t forget who you are. And don’t forget that you have Christian brothers and sisters in the other political party.

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