Not only am I interested in politics but unlike under the Tony Blair administration I do God and my Christian beliefs influence how I vote and engage politically. In my last post, I made the point: while I do believe politics is a legitimate activity in which Christians ought to be involved, and involved they should be if we are to improve our communities, I am now at a stage in life where I feel this is not something which I should take an active part other than bringing politicians to account for their actions and supporting them and anyone else come to that in order to improve our communities.
While I am no expert in American politics, it seems to me that faith, especially Christian faith, plays an important part which many, probably most, candidates for high office, in particular the presidency, use in order to woo voters. Because Christians don’t all sing from the same hymn sheet e.g. right wing fundamentalists tend to be more concerned about issues like religious freedom, homosexuality and abortion and left wing liberals tend to be more concerned about issues to do with social justice, equal rights and poverty, and besides if you delve deep it is a lot more complex than that including those who don’t care or have their own peculiar reasons for deciding who they are to vote for, it is easy to play one group off against the other and end up satisfying no-one. One of the recent attacks on politicians by disgruntled Christians was made by Franklin Graham (son of the legendary Billy Graham) on President Obama (Franklin Graham Accuses Obama of ‘Imposing Gay and Lesbian Agenda’ Abroad in Wake of Gay Rights Speech to Kenya) although some of Obama’s reforming agenda designed to help the poor has received accolade by other groups of Christians.
I am pretty sure over the next few months we will hear much from candidates wanting to stand for President of the United States and I have no doubt many will wave their Christian credentials. Before I go on, let me say for me personally, while faith may be an issue given I am a values voter and the Christian values I have painstakingly discussed on the past are something I hold as important, I will not vote for anyone simply because he/she purports to be more Christian that his/her opponents. This is evidenced in the election just gone. The guy that won it is a professing Christian and the two guys I preferred over him are not. Back to presidential story, one of the recent episodes concerns billionaire, business entrepreneur, Donald Trump, throwing his hat into the ring as a candidate. He made a much publicized statement aimed at Christians as to why they should vote for them and someone picked up on this, making the point that there are good reasons why Christians might vote for him. I shared this on my Facebook page. One of my friends, who shares many of my theological views, responded to the effect that if Trump were to be elected that would be a disaster. This is how I responded to him …
“Trump is not my cup of tea – he strikes me as being a self serving egoist, a trait which I find irritating. My theological position is also of the reformed variety and some of these guys besides being thoroughly biblically based theologically speaking were, more than most of their contemporaries, ofay with the issues of the day and how to resolve them, more than many today give them credit for. I am wary of the positions of both left (becoz it denies the gospel) and the right (becoz it is selective on its issues in a way the Bible ain’t). With the cultural shifts taking place Christians feel more and more squeezed and to the detriment of society as a whole as well as to the Christians (a theme I explored in my blog). Many of my Christian friends don’t get it and some of my non Christian friends need to hear what I have to say before dismissing my concerns and “my type” as fundamentalist, sanctimonious, homophobic bigots. Despite his faults, this is something Trump gets in a way which other supposedly more overt Christian politicians don’t. Agree or not, some of his moral certainties attracts many Christians.”
Christianity and politics is a big subject that has often divided Christians and to such an extent it has become in certain quarters a taboo subject, despite folk having strong opinions on who to support and why, based on what they see as important. Repeating much of what I have said before, these are some of my thoughts:
- Given nowhere in the Bible does it say who we should support vote wise politically, we should be humble in our pronouncements and prayerful, cognizant of the facts, when deciding. We should recognise there is much the Bible doesn’t say, including on the matter of politics, and here we must apply Christian principles.
- Unlike today, none of the governments in the Bible were democratic. Many were autocratic and despotic and in the case of the Jewish nation under God it was for a time theocratic.
- Advancing God’s kingdom trumps left and right ideology, neither of which takes into account the whole counsel of God; yet it might lead some to get involved in our community and politically.
- We are told to pray for our politicians. A major reason was so we can live a “quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty“.
- “Righteousness exalts a nation” and we must be advocates of righteousness in every way, whether calling for the killing of the unborn to stop, irradiating preventable disease such the newly born are able to live, looking after the poor and the oppressed, living godly lives, declaring God’s mind on these matters etc.
- While our citizenship is in heaven, we are still called to be good citizens down here on earth and to love our neighbor etc.
Update 30/07/15: It happened that when I was listening today in the car radio, there was a report on the Womens British Open Golf tournament presently going on. It also happens this is taking place on a golf course owned by Donald Trump and one of the competitors is a US lady, daughter of Mexican immigrants, who took umbrage at what she saw as derogatory remarks by Trump on immigrants. Moreover, when challenged on this, I found Trump’s remarks dismissive and arrogant, revealing serious flaws in his character. While I like people to say it as it is and to champion my concerns, as Trump has sometimes done, this is not one of them. I have made no bones about my criticism of Barrack Obama on many issues but the part he has played in regularizing the immigration status of long term illegal immigrants is one I support. Politics is a strange business and it is nigh impossible to discern what will be closest to the common good. No wonder good people, including from my own theological stable, see things differently.