This past weekend you may have heard about the Faith and Freedom Coalition - a group seeking to get out more evangelical voters for the upcoming election. Apparently in the last presidential election, some 17 million evangelicals didn't vote (that according to Ralph Reed this past weekend. Remember the Christian Coalition founded by Pat Robertson for which Reed was the Executive Director?) The rally this weekend was hosted in preparation for tomorrow's primary election in Wisconsin. Romney, Ryan, Gingrich, and Santorum all shared the stage with Reed in a rally cry against President Obama, with Reed making it clear that the reason Obama is in office is because evangelicals didn't show up in the last election, and wanting to make sure that doesn't happen again. So, here's where the political cynic in me comes out. Is it really the case that evangelicals failed to have the political will or the financial capital to fight the good fight and win the top leadership position in the world? Is Obama really the enemy here? And what, actually, are we rallying for as evangelicals? Is it a Tea Party political platform or is it to rally behind a member of the financial elite who happens to be member of what evangelical Christians have always called an aberrant form of Christianity - or a heresy, or a cult? Is Obama the personal representation of a political evil that is contrary to the teachings of Jesus?
I'm having a hard time swallowing this pill. And here's my issue - and it has been my issue since I was a youth delegate to the 1992 Republican National Convention. (Yes, I was also a member of the college republicans, and part of a conservative coup d'etat on campus that overthrew the reigning elite at the time). In any case, since 1992, I have found that the teachings and sayings of Jesus and the Scriptures settle well with neither the left nor the right, and very rarely line up with the party platforms or policies of either party. The new neo-cons, tea-partiers, or more socialist leaning leftists give me no hope for a solid political future for evangelical Christians.
Here's my question: If we were to do a great job of getting 17 million evangelicals out to vote... for whom would they vote? Is the assumption that the Republican nominee (Romney) lines up with my faith and followership of Jesus, because if so, I'm having a really hard time seeing it.
Here's a second question: Why do evangelicals continue to make the same mistake that the early disciples made of thinking there is a political messiah who will lead us out of our captivity to Rome, or Babylon, or an American consumerist prosperity gospel? On this day after Palm Sunday in which Jesus the Christ who is the true Messiah rode into Jerusalem on a colt to symbolize his humility, and who spurned political involvement through a subversive campaign of death on the cross, why is it that we once again turn our eyes away from Him who leads us into true freedom and release from captivity?
I applaud the effort to involve evangelicals in thinking seriously about politics. I do think seriously about politics, economics, and social movements, and wish more evangelicals would be informed about what's happening not only in the US, but globally. However, I am under no illusion that there is a political messiah to be voted in nor a political anti-christ to be voted out, but a true messiah who works in hearts of people rather than through ivory towers of power.
I would prefer a call to prayer, a call to love, a call to gospel action, a call to live the beatitudes, a call to reach hearts and minds. I would prefer we spend these millions of dollars on the mission of Jesus to seek and save the lost, to bind up the broken hearted, to release the captives, and to give sight to the blind and to see the cripple run.
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