I love politics.
I grew up in Sacramento, CA running the halls of the State Capitol Building where my mother worked for various legislators for nearly 25 years. I still have aunts, uncles and friends who are heavily involved in politics and I have always believed that public service is honorable calling. The intricacies of the system, the importance of relationships, the development of strategies and the struggle to find common vision has always been inspiring and exciting to me. Sure, I lament the fact that distrust seems to be the default opinion of politicians and, yes, politics can be excruciatingly frustrating. But in the end, the beauty of our democratic system is that it holds in tension the great diversity of our country as we strive to peacefully move forward as one body.
So, as you can imagine, I also love Presidential election season.
And yes, I am a Christian.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon an intriguing article by a fellow Patheos writer, Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary. In his article, Why This Conservative Evangelical Counter-Cult Expert Will Vote for Romney, he addresses a question that I’ve wondered about since Mitt Romney, a Mormon, won the right to face President Barack Obama in the 2012 Presidential Election, “Who will Conservative Evangelical Christians vote for?”
Now I am not surprised that he comes down on the side of Romney. As he stipulates, Romney is a not a principled conservative and since I don’t think Obama has endeared himself to many Conservative Evangelicals over this first four years, there is prob not much of a chance that Obama will see an increase in the Conservative Evangelical vote. Still, Romney is a Mormon and there are many who think this is bad. As Groothuis says…
However, Mormonism as Mormonism is heretical. No one should be a Mormon. It is “another gospel” (see Gal. 1:6-11). I learned this in 1977, when, as a young Christian, I read Walter Martin’s modern classic, Kingdom of the Cults. Nothing since has convinced me to the contrary.
And clearly he sees President Obama much differently than I…
Safe to say that Professor Groothuis and I have probably never voted for the same presidential candidate. Still, there are some arguments in his article with which I deeply resonate. He challenges the strategy of opting out of the voting process as some kind of protest, he claims fundamental differences between the two two parties and he calls people to use their faith as a lens through which they exercise their political power. The part of the article, however, that really convicted me was his perspective on the office of President and the role of religion in government.
Obama, while not a Mormon, has no credible Christian testimony. Consider his twenty-year membership in Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s racist, ultra-liberal, Nation-of-Islam-supporting church. Ponder his stance on abortion and same-sex marriage . . . Obama is far more sympathetic to Islam than he is to Christianity. I did not say that Obama was a Muslim, but that he is deferent to Islam and seems oblivious (or indifferent) to the dangers of Sharia law (see Robert Spencer’s Stealth Jihad). This is urgent, since Sharia law is already being implemented on American soil.
If Romney is elected president, it would give Mormonism a platform it has never enjoyed before. That is bad, very bad. However, the president is neither Theologian-in-Chief nor Pastor-in-Chief. He is Commander-in-Chief. Moreover, Mormons have every right the Constitution affords our citizens, and conservative Christians can and should be co-belligerents with Mormons (and others) in political causes. Ecumenism religiously is another matter entirely.
So while I vehemently disagree with most, if not all, of his assertions about the nature of the Christian faith, the Democratic party and President Obama, I very much agree with his overall understanding of the relationship between personal faith and the political process: the United States is not a church and the President not a Pastor.
Church and State must be kept separate, but faith and politics must be held in tension.
So for those who disagree with folks like Professor Groothuis about where our country should head I would offer the same kind of arguments about why you should vote for President Obama:
- Voting is our civic duty;
- Opting out of the process is a waste;
- There is a difference between the core principles of the two parties;
- Obama is better than the alternative;
I close with one last quote from Professor Groothuis’ article.
But we should remember that politics is not the church. It is the art of the possible. Often we must choose the lesser of two evils, which is also the evil of two lessers. We reside in a fallen world. Get over it . . . You are not appointing a pastor but voting for a president. A vote is neither a letter of reference, nor an unqualified endorsement, nor an act of worship. A vote is the exercise of the franchise, one part you play in our Republican form of government. It is a right, a responsibility, and a privilege that should not be squandered.
On this I couldn’t agree more.