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Politics and Christianity

I have a shameful confession to make. I used to be very heavily involved in politics.  I mean “election judge, precinct chairman, delegate to state, member of the executive board, secretary of the county convention, paid campaign worker,” kind of involvement.  I mean the, “elected officials called me at work and at home for input,” kind of involvement.

I’ve learned better and repented.

I learned a lot about both politics and Christ in the process, most of all I learned that the two don’t mix. 

Never take someone else’s negative words at face value – go to the source:
When I first got active in politics in my city, there was man running for Congress who seemed like a great guy, but at a political meeting we  were all told by a woman that everyone trusted dearly that the man was ripping down his opponents signs, busting out windows and spreading lies about people.  Person after person told me similar stories, and I was dumb enough to assume that if everyone said it, it must be true.

Despite the gossip. The man won the party nomination, and after he won the party asked me to work his campaign against the other party.  I refused. He could have just ignored me.  I was only one person, and then just a new person.  Instead he came to me and asked me why I refused to support him.  He was humble and polite and seemed to sincerely want to know what he had done to make me dislike him.  I gave him an honest answer, and he looked absolutely shocked and said, “I had no idea that was going on.  I know you can’t believe that, but I swear, if I had known I would have fired whoever it was and paid for any damages.  Please find out where and when this happened so I can act on it.”

So I tried.  I really tried.  No one seemed to remember whose sign or whose house or what yard or what sign.  Everyone had heard it from someone “reliable” who had heard it from someone “reliable,” but none of the people spreading it had any idea where the original source of it was.

I agreed to work with the man.  After all, if a man is as big a jerk as the rumors said, he couldn’t hide it forever. 

He turned out to be one of the finest human beings and Congressmen I’ve ever known. 

Some  Christians think “thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” doesn’t apply to politics:
When the local head of the Christian Coalition demanded that a man sign off on a specific platform before the coalition would support the man, the candidate and the coalition official met in my office and discussed why the candidate was hesitant to sign it, but the man did sign it.  A few days later an ad ran for the man’s opponent, paid for by the supppoters of the Coalition, saying the man had not signed it. Rumors were all over the county convention floor that the man had refused to sign it.   They said that they heard this from the head of the Coalition.

So I went to the head of the Christian Coalition and said, “You know, the 10 commandments? That one about not bearing false witness doesn’t have an “except for politics,” clause in it.  The man said, “Well, he might have signed it, but he isn’t a strong supporter of, ” (and mentioned the plank the man was hesitant on).  I said, “A lie is a lie. He signed off on it, saying he didn’t is a lie. If you’re going to throw rocks, you should at least be less obvious about breaking the numbered commandments.”

He hung his head in shame. 

You don’t need to be Christian to be part of the Christian Coaliton
My city is very divided politically.  We have “liberal Democrats” and “moderate Democrats”.  We have “Conservative Republicans” and “moderate Republicans.” In my area, if you didn’t stand up for the conservative element of the Republican party you were labeled “non-Christian,” and if you were active in that branch of the political system you were automatically assumed to be “a good Christian.”

So imagine my surprise when the woman who was famous in town for being able to motivate the Christians into action told me that she didn’t think it mattered if a person prayed to Christ or to Buddah or to Allah. 

Don’t confuse faith in Christ with opinions on issues
Remember the guy above who signed off on the platform, and they said he didn’t? He is a lay minister who is very active in the Church of Christ. Ask him for his testimony and he’ll talk for hours and hours about how he came to Christ, why he loves Christ and how he wants to help others find Christ.  He does a lot of charity work in the name of Christ. His reason for not wanting to sign off on the platform was because he felt the issue in question was one that would only be answered individually, and that the churches, not politicians, should address it.  This is the man the Christian coalition didn’t like.

One of the people running against him had the full support of the local Christian Coalition element of the party, but said something that indicated to me he couldn’t be a Christian.  Namely holding a status of honor with a non-christian faith. So, after a meeting I asked them how that worked, and they responded that they were not Christian, and then told me that their personal believe didn’t matter as long as they were willing to support Christian issues. 

How can a non-Christian know what a Christian issue is? How can a person who doesn’t even pretend to pray, know what God would want or make godly decisions? Or guide a group (community) in a Christian manner?  Would I rather have a sinful, but prayerful David as my leader? Or a worshipper of Baal, who was a pretty nice guy and agreed with me that stealing a man’s wife is bad? I’ll take King David.

Just because a man proclaims a cause doesn’t mean he believes in the cause
A very influential party member at not just the local level, but also at the state level, was adored by the pro-life groups.  On a door to door walk one day the man’s daughter told me that she found politics hilarious because her Dad didn’t really believe abortion was wrong.  I asked her to explain. She said, “I had one, and I had it because my Dad insisted I have it.”  She then went on to explain that she’d gotten pregnant as a teenager, her father didn’t want his family name stained, and he’d insisted she get rid of the baby. She had wanted to have it and keep it.  I said he must have changed his mind after that. She laughed and said absolutely not.

So, I asked someone close to the man about it, and he said, “That’s right. He isn’t really pro-life, and he is an atheist.”

I was flabbergasted, and I said, “But the Christian coalition and the conservatives all support him!”

His friend said, “He’s a great politician, and the party matters to him more than the issues. He figures issues will come and go.  So he doesn’t pick candidates who support his issue. He finds out what the issues are, and tells his candidate how to win over the people.”

Which, needless to say, didn’t improve my trust in the candidates he supported.

Everytime we brag that we are a Christian, and we spread a false rumor or attack someone who doesn’t deserve it, we anger Christ.
So when you get that email that enrages you, don’t forward it! Assume it is wrong until verified, and fact check it. If you can’t find substantial proof that it is accurate, don’t share it!

You see, Christ cares about a person’s soul, and when you spread false rumors, while proclaiming Christ, you run the risk of causing a heart to harden.
So just stop it.

Valuable lessons I learned from it all
If you hear a rumor, demand specifics that can be fact checked, don’t share them or spread them.  Spreading a rumor you don’t know to be true is bearing false witness and it is a sin.

If you want to know what a person feels about Christ or an issue, ask them.

Make sure your leaders really believe what they claim to believe. 

The more negative the comment, the more likely it is a flat out lie.

A man who is afraid to pray, is a man who won’t be listening to God.