Christians in Politics

I was working on my next post in the Reconsider Jesus book series, but I didn’t feel it was ready for prime time.

So, instead I wanted to ask you a question or series of questions about what you think about Christians in Politics.

It is something that I have been thinking about a lot today, and must admit my thinking is rather muddled.

Full disclosure: For the last few weeks I have been part of Canadian Facebook group which was created to help support Christian political leaders. I can’t say that I ever felt really comfortable in that group, and I stepped aside today.

Here are some of my thoughts for which I would like your response along with your own questions and thoughts.

1. Should we overtly support Christians running for political office because they are Christian?

2. Am I able to trust the agenda of someone who is Christian any more than someone who is not?

3. Should I support whomever aligns best with me on a wide range of issues, regardless of their personal religious beliefs?

4. Are there pet agendas of Christians that I would be uncomfortable with? (For example in our area their was a move at the local school board level to elect Christian trustees who would throw out a curriculum that I thought was quite fine.)

5. I think I am missing a question or two that I should be asking. Maybe some of your responses will help me with other questions of my own.

Let me know if you have had thoughts in this area. I am interested in a variety of opinions here. I would also be interested in passing on some of your comments to the leader of the Facebook Group.

121 thoughts on “Christians in Politics

  1. He also didn’t….uh….”support our troops”, a major no-no for evangelical Christians. In fact, he celebrated their deaths, since he said the U.S. military was full of gay folks and as a result hated by God.

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  2. Then Nietzsche was at least partly right when he called Christianity the religion of ressentiment, the religion of those who suppress their hatred and envy of others perceived to be more powerful (for instance, The Deep State and the Main Stream Media, the latter represented by journalists covering street protests) than them.

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  3. Just like a Jihadi suicide bomber, except we don’t get to eternally pork 72 virgins as a reward for our Obedience.

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  4. As I said in a previous comment (above) regarding “The Violence Within”, he gives his Base a sanction from On High to do what is normally Forbidden — indulge in their own “expressions of cruelty and sadism” (with His blessing) against their and His enemies, and the adrenalin/dopamine high from this is Very Exciting and So Delicious…..

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  5. And after all the fear of what an Obama would do in office (most of that from the excess of his base’s Fanboys), he turned out to be a fairly-average President. Did some things right, screwed up in some others, presented a dignified office.

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  6. I have a 40-year-old book on my shelves by a Swiss psychologist name Paul Tournier titled The VIolence Within. It begins with an example of a Fascist country (Italy – “SALUTO IL DUCE!”) going to war. The excitement of the young Italian soldiers and Blackshirts boarding the troop trains like they were going to some Exciting Event.

    Tournier said it was not “going forth to kill” so much as “Doing what is normally Forbidden, i.e. to be Violent”. With official sanction from the highest of places — Il Duce.

    Trump and the “hostile and divisive culture” of today follows the same pattern. Trump gives his base Sanction from On High to hate The Enemy, to be hostile, to be violent (mostly in words, sometimes in action). Their LORD and God says “It’s OK, it’s A Righteous Cause, MAGA” and He is dead set against the very same Enemies they they have. Now they can do what was Forbidden and the adrenalin/dopamine rush is So Delicious.

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  7. 2. Unfortunately even being a true Christian (not one in word only) doesn’t necessarily equal competence in governing or any other area.

    If anything, it encourages INCOMPETENCE through Holy Nincompoop Syndrome.

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  8. I have come to the conclusion that Fred Phelps’ REAL sin was being Too Direct instead of Using the Proper Indirect Code Words.

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  9. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a Christian.

    AOC also needs time to accumulate some experience and mellow out to where she doesn’t come across as an On-Fire-for-The-Cause political crazy. Because that turns off a lot of people — everyone except a fanatical Base. (Come to think of it, does that sound like a funhouse mirror of anyone else we know?)

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  10. I can still recall how I thought back when I was in that camp… “Our worldview, founded as it is on the truthful revelations of the eternal unchanging God, is *utterly correct*. It is our sole duty to confirm ourselves and our society to it, at whatever discomfort and suffering to ourselves or others. We are not called to be happy in this life; we are called to obey. Period.”

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  11. In my thinking the situation here in the US has gotten so out of hand that I believe it’s better to have a separation from anything political. “Christians” here act like Gollum to their precious politics, I sincerely hope that this does not happen in your country.

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  12. People who mind their own P(s) and Q(s) and don’t do the kinds of thing to others they wouldn’t want done to themselves, need no king.

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  13. Don’t know about you, but I’ve always been out-of-step with whatever subculture is around me.

    Comes from “growing up Martian” (actual term), like you’re some alien observer watching it all from the outside, never the inside.

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  14. That’s an old one, Ted.
    I remember hearing it on Rich Buhler’s “Talk from the Heart” in the Eighties.

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  15. Well, it looks like we will shortly have a Catholic Charismatic on the Supreme Court. We will see how this turns out.

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  16. They excitedly accepted it at first, it was after he had been elected and in office for a couple of years that they turned against him in droves. Not the first Christian leader to have this happen to him.

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  17. And they don’t drop the word Christianity as code or dog whistle…

    Or, as Johnathan Cahn did in his trailer for the Sept. 26 rally: “vote Biblical Values.” Other than that he tried to make it sound so non-partisan but I could see through it easy enough.

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  18. but never ‘kindness, patience, love, humility, etc. etc.

    only the hate rants a la Westboro so OF COURSE trump is their guy

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  19. those are REAL fundies . . . oh my goodness

    now I understand if the old folks want what’s familiar but there is a whole cadre that is to Rome what the KJV-Only folks are to the Baptists – stuck in time

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  20. Michael Z said:
    “So, the appeal of Trump to evangelicals is not the Christian identity – he obviously isn’t one – but the conservative identity.”

    That’s what won the evangelicals over to Ronald Reagan–when he said, “I know that you can’t endorse me, but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing.”

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  21. Overturn Roe v Wade,
    Prayer Back In Schools,
    Anti-HOMOSEXUAL Anything,
    “Merry CHRISTmas!!!” instead of “Happy Holidays”…

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  22. HUG, the joke was on you for buying a Christian car—the only model mentioned in the bible: Acts 2:1, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord…”

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  23. if you have ‘Catholics’ throwing the scriptures around like fundamentalists, chances are they are fundamentalists, not ‘Catholics’

    Fundys with Rosaries.
    And (usually) Tridentine Latin Mass.

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  24. Never in our lifetime have we had a president so openly cruel and sadistic; but beyond that, his base as represented by his campaign rallies cheer on his expressions of cruelty and sadism. The latter phenomenon is the more concerning.

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  25. Trump: During my campaign rally, I’ll revel in a reporter being shot by police with rubber bullets while he covered a peaceful street protest, and the crowd will laugh and cheer as I describe it! They’ll eat it up and want more! Especially when I tell them how he fell to the ground and yelled, “My knee! My knee!” Funny stuff!!!

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  26. Obama did it to an extent, and so have some other presidents, but Trump has taken it into the stratosphere. The DOJ has become his attack dog, for any purpose he sees fit. Enough of a quantitative change becomes a qualitative change at some point, and with regard to the weaponizing of the DOJ for Trump’s political purposes and vendettas, we moved far beyond that point some time ago.

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  27. “I kill my own mother and still they cheer me!”
    — Nero Caesar, in Paul Maier’s historical novel Flames of Rome

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  28. Burro has a Thing about Absolute Monarchy as GOD’s Perfect System.

    I think he’s EO. If so, remember the EO church history — bending the knee to and kissing the ring of the Caesars in Constantinople, then after Islam rolled up Constantinople their RO branch continued the practice with the Tsars in Moscow. Ask the Russian peasants and serfs how much of a Godly Paradise Holy Russia was.

    And that assumes you don’t get a Caligula on the Iron Throne of Divine Right.

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  29. When I read the title “Christians in Politics” I had the same response Gandhi had when a reporter asked him what he thought of Western Civilization-

    “I think it would be a good idea.”

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  30. My beef against unrepresentational authoritarian governance is that’s it’s unrepresentational, not to mention authoritarian.

    I prefer the democratic republican mess managed ineffectively by mediocrities any day of the week to your nostalgia for the fist.

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  31. Just because you’re a Christian, and your elected representative is a Christian, doesn’t mean you’re part of the same religion.

    I mean, if we compare many of the commenters here with the characters in HUGs pageant, do we see any real, tangible similarity? They may have a few shared theological concepts locked in the attic, but they rarely bring them out, rarely dust them down, rarely bring them into the actual lives. Even ‘a shared faith in Jesus’ doesn’t seem like a real connection, given how many different Jesus’, each in our own image, there are out there. Politics, the culture war, our tribe – these are things we believe in, that constitute our various ‘religions’.

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  32. We self-created ourselves all over the Indians and we’ve been self-creating ourselves all over each other ever since.

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  33. 1. No
    2. No
    3. Yes
    4. Yes

    I live in a red area with quite a number of overtly “christian” elected officials. In my experience, the elected officials who most overtly wear their “christian faith” on their sleeve and have the most overt support from like-minded folks consistently make the absolute worst decisions in their public roles. And most are obnoxious about it to boot.

    Real life examples:
    1. City council person who spent endless funds and energy getting “In God We Trust” signs on the walls of council chambers and many other public governance locations.
    2. School board member (a pastor!) who was the deciding vote in denying some employees healthcare when it would not have cost the school district anything (federal funding would have covered it all). His comment? “If they wanted health insurance they should have been better employees.”
    3. School board member who wanted to arm every teacher in the district where my wife teaches.
    4. Numerous elected officials who have rushed to send people and kids into dangerous gatherings and in-person school, work, etc. during this raging pandemic we are in.

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  34. In addition to policies, I’m also worried about the untold consequences that are unfolding simply from the hostile and divisive culture Trump has nurtured, which will also not end once he leaves office. It would be a mistake to underestimate the impact and influence of mere “words”. Just look around, Trump has brought out the worst in people, on both sides.

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  35. Let’s see…

    Trump: I know! I’ll fire off a Twitter blast calling so-and-so a big fat cow, and ya know what, there will be people who applaud me for it!

    Most of us: I’m horrified that our current POTUS does that regularly.

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  36. My bottom line: If I would have a problem with someone standing up and saying, “Vote for me, I’m Muslim,” then I think I should likewise have a problem with someone standing up and saying, “Vote for me, I’m Christian.”

    I don’t vote labels, at least I try not to. I look for leadership qualities, the ability to unite, people who seem to bear fruit of the spirit (Christian or not), people who don’t appear to bully, people who seem to have their egos in check, people who might not fire off Twitter blasts at anyone and everyone who says something counter to the hill on which they’ve planted the flag, people who hire good advisors and listen to them, who don’t fire their advisors every other week…

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  37. Just wanted to mess around with this question:

    3. Should I support whomever aligns best with me on a wide range of issues, regardless of their personal religious beliefs?

    I mean, sure, you should be allowed to support whomever you wish for whatever reasons tickle your fancy, but aren’t we presuming here that the “I” in the sentence has the “right” ideology: that the individual in this political situation is under no obligation to compromise, rethink, re-evaluate, change. Why don’t we feel obligated to change our worldview, especially if it negatively impacts someone else?

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  38. Unfortunately, here in the States they kind of are the cultural concensus for Christianity. I’ve pointed out in other discussions here that even the Catholics and Mainlines are very much influenced and molded by the evangelicals. Should that be? No, but it is. The “we” of the “we shouldn’t let them get away with it” are not a majority, would that we were.

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  39. It’s gonna be delightful to see if Sen Harris is capable of resisting that temptation.

    Is there a word for when you expect someone to be horrified by something you say, but they’re pleased instead?

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  40. My point is not that the distinction is not obvious when brought to mind, but that the attempt to erase the distinction is so prevalent that even those well aware of the distinction nevertheless seem to forget it until they specifically and consciously bring it to mind.
    They should’nt be allowed to get away with it.

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  41. no, I must disagree on this point:

    that Catholics are VERY comfortable with sacred Scripture, not from ‘Sunday School’ but from the liturgy used at mass that is a part of the services they have heard since babes in arms (children come to the mass with their parents from a very young age) . . . .

    we may not know actually ‘chapter’ and ‘verse’ but you better believe we’ve got a boat-load of verses in our memories from the praying of the liturgy and from the readings done out-loud at mass

    an advantage? not if you’re going to ‘throw scripture around’ and run around saying ‘the bible clearly says’, no

    but we know enough to RECOGNIZE the beatitudes, the ‘Word of the Lord’ for which we all stand up (the reading of the Holy Gospels) and – and – and

    did you know that there are parts of the New Testament that were prayed by the early Christians before they were ever ‘written down’ and put into ‘the canon’ ?

    if you have ‘Catholics’ throwing the scriptures around like fundamentalists, chances are they are fundamentalists, not ‘Catholics’ – ‘just because a mouse in in the cookie jar, doesn’t make him a mouse’

    And no Catholic will EVER say something like ‘the bible clearly says’

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  42. He has weaponized the DOJ against his political opponents. This will have major effects in the upcoming election, disastrous for our country.

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  43. Whitman was very much a narcissist, as is common among the human race, evangelicals and other Christians included. But he was a generous rather than a stingy narcissist, his narcissism was wide and inclusive of other people and animals and religions and objects and conditions of being, he didn’t have to squint out everything else, as is the habit of many of our coreligionists and perhaps even ourselves, to see himself in the wide world. He kept his eyes wide open.

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  44. Best quote on this is from my husband, as he was about to cast his ballot for Obama after years of voting Republican: “We’re not voting for the Pope here…”

    Decent human being + policy positions for me.

    Dana

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  45. Power does matter, but more than one person has it. The media has power to influence, Nancy Pelosi has power over the house of representatives. Governors have power over their states. The over reaction to Trump is doing more damage and causing more division than anything Trump himself is doing. Beyond his crassness and willingness to use personal petty insults against his opponents what has Trump done that is so beyond the pale compared to past presidents? Obama was a corrupt president. I was glad to see him gone, but I wasn’t going to burn down the country to make it happen.

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  46. > assert the people’s reaction to Trump poses a far greater threat
    > to our nation than Trump himself ever will

    Nope, I cannot even take this seriously. Only one person in this situation is PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. Power, bro, it matters. One person in this situation has it.

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  47. Another extension:

    Throw a party in the house with all the snakes invited, then start a fire when the crack pipe explodes. Herd everybody outside and start sniping at the neighbors.

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  48. Indeed.

    Much of the reaction to Trump reminds me a lot of the ‘cytokine storm’ immune system reaction that the COVID-19 virus provokes in some unfortunate individuals. The media coverage of his crackershines is especially suspect. I have the advantage of being able to consume media in Spanish and Portuguese, my son in Russian, and my daughter in Korean. What we read is light years away from the apocalyptic language used on CNN. The current president’s shortcomings are reported and discussed. They are not papered over, but neither are they treated as a divergence-from-type. So we have a shameless huckster in the White House. This is a universally recognized American type, as was the cool, smart black kid before him, the cowboy before him, and the Jaycee kid before him.

    As far as the questions:
    1. No
    2. No
    3. Yes
    4. Yes

    5. What is everybody’s beef against unrepresentational authoritarian governance? It has been our species’ default mode for 93% of human history, and it can work pretty well when the right person is in charge. The run of capable emperors from Trajan to Marcus Aurelius supports my argument, as do Henry VI, St. Alfred the Great, Pericles, Asoka, Qin Shi Huang

    Do we really do any better with our rotating pendejo system?

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  49. To extend the metaphor, like someone who wants to burn down the house because their spouse (whom they hate) told them they saw a snake and suggested it be removed.

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  50. The thing is, Jon, he provokes it every day. That’s his method, and it’s insidious.

    But that’s all I will say on this subject today. I don’t want to hijack the good post Mike put up.

    To that end, let me answer Mike’s questions, and then I’m out for the day:

    1. Should we overtly support Christians running for political office because they are Christian? No, not for that reason alone. Politics is about the common good and my belief in common grace teaches me that there is wisdom in all of us. After all, my hero in this realm is Abraham Lincoln.

    2. Am I able to trust the agenda of someone who is Christian any more than someone who is not? No, because there is always danger, as I said in other comments, that one may become too idealistic and try to impose particular religious teachings upon the broader community, when in a secular, democratic republic, politics is about ordering our common life together.

    3. Should I support whomever aligns best with me on a wide range of issues, regardless of their personal religious beliefs? Yes, if that person is committed to public service and the common good.

    4. Are there pet agendas of Christians that I would be uncomfortable with? (For example in our area their was a move at the local school board level to elect Christian trustees who would throw out a curriculum that I thought was quite fine.) Yes. See my comment under #2.

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  51. Too many Evangelicals refuse to recognize any Christianity but their own.

    Fundagelicals have also redefined “Christian” without any modifiers to mean Fundagelicalism and Fundagelicalism alone. For instance, where I am “Christian(TM)” means Calvary Chapel or Calvary Chapel Clone.

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  52. (anyone here thing the Orange One is Christian?)

    The Real True CHRISTIANS(TM) all do.
    It’s become yet another Litmus Test of Salvation.

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  53. The thing is, Biden/Harris/AOC et al don’t *specifically* identify themselves and their policies as “Christian”.

    While Trump Holds Up a BIBLE! A BIBLE! A BIBLE!

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  54. Would you hire someone for a job because they claimed to be “Christian”? Only if you did not care about getting that job done [well].

    And the more they stress how CHRISTIAN(TM) they are, the sooner and faster you should RUN.

    I think it was Jeff Dunn who once worked for a radio station, and reported there that Christians(TM) were always Cash In Advance, NO EXCEPTIONS. The station had gotten burned so many times that they’d extend credit to a crackhead before they would a Christian(TM).

    My own Christian business burn job experience was relatively minor and didn’t involve any money changing hands. In the late Eighties I was replacing my old Subaru and tried a Christian car lot that was recommended on a local fairly-reputable Christian radio station. Instead of helping me find a replacement car, the salesman immediately pulled out the Romans Road/Four Spiritual Laws tract and preached God’s Plan of Salvation. Couldn’t change his mind and wouldn’t change the subject. After that Bait & Switch, I walked out and went with another source – a used car broker who did get me a new car (the Accord with the wonky heater).

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  55. Don’t look at whether they say “Lord, lord” in public, but whether they give to the poor, help the helpless, comfort the sick and visit the prisoner even when no-one is looking.

    Or hold up a Bible in a photo op.
    “He Was Holding Up a Bible! A BIBLE!”

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  56. Bravo, TED,
    great response!

    it’s time for some serious talk of ‘authentic Christianity’ and how it is best expressed in our world as our American ‘political leaders’ are having a bit of difficulty lately, aren’t they, in upholding their own integrity with any grace at all as in ‘legends of the Falwell’ . . .

    about ‘authentic’ Christianity,
    I was thinking that, in the great ‘tradition’ of the Church that has unfolded in the millennia since Pentecost,
    we might be reassured that the Holy Spirit IS PRESENT AND AT WORK in all matters of the Church’s teaching, of the process of the formation of a Christian’s moral conscience, and of the collegial understanding of the sacred Scriptures.
    So I have come to suspect that in ‘going forth to love and serve the Lord’, the most powerful forces at an authentic Christian’s command are to found in the ‘fruit’ of the Holy Spirit and not in some contrived political sphere:

    ” “And I saw the river over which every soul must pass
    to reach the kingdom of heaven

    and the name of that river was suffering:

    and I saw a boat which carries souls across the river

    and the name of that boat was love.”

    (St. John of the Cross)

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  57. And I will continue to assert the people’s reaction to Trump poses a far greater threat to our nation than Trump himself ever will. They are like a person who wants to burn down their house because they found a snake in it.

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  58. Trump has strengthened my conviction about this too, Allen. As I’ve said before, I’ve never really paid too much attention to politics in the past. Sure, I’ve gotten upset about particular decisions or policies, but as long as I felt the people in position were decent people who valued public service, I was willing to put up with the ebb and flow of our government moving left and right and back again. It never became an existential concern for me until 2015-16. And that concern is all about one man. Never before have I felt as threatened or concerned for the survival of our democratic institutions as I have these past few years. It’s the only reason you hear much about it here at IM. DT has made a difference, and I long for the days when I might be able to relax again for one day and not be constantly on guard for the next cannon ball of chaos to be cast our way.

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  59. The ideal is real.

    But the appropriate political discussion is if a decision or policy takes us nearer or further from that.

    The conversions about ideals happen elsewhere and before that conversation. Those are more intra-party conversations, in the American context.

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  60. I guess I should also clarify my first comment by saying that my viewpoint is strictly about what politics are meant to achieve in our democratic republic. I don’t have a theory of politics beyond that.

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  61. I used to look at policies, now I only look at humanity. I look at the person’s life and ask myself “Are they a decent human being?”

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  62. This is why I constantly harp on the misuse of the word “Christian” to mean White Evangelical Protestant. Taking candidates for US President (since I don’t know enough to speak to Canadian politics), every major party candidate in at least the past half century has (glossing over the status of Mormonism) been at least nominally Christian. They have not all been Evangelical Protestants. Hillary Clinton is a lifelong Methodist, while Joe Biden is Roman Catholic. An interesting feature is that Republican candidates are more likely to be merely nominal Christians. Reagan was retroactively declared to be devout, but you wouldn’t have known it at the time. McCain was a non-observant cultural Episcopalian (old school, from when the Episcopal Church was the Republican Party at prayer).. At one point in the campaign he hilariously claimed that he thought he was probably a Baptist. And Trump is, well, Trump. This is one of many factors that matter a great deal to Republicans when it helps them, but turns out to be a matter of indifference when it does not. But the fact remains that every single one of them made at least a token gesture.

    Why does this matter? By letting the Evangelicals commandeer the word “Christian” we end up with the nonsensical, but rhetorically important, conclusion that Trump is the “Christian” candidate while Clinton or Biden is not.

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  63. What does it mean to be a Christian? Church membership? The use of Scripture to justify one’s worldview? The commitment to institutions that identify as Christian? The support of policy presumably affirmed by Scripture?

    Before we start labeling people or institutions as Christians, maybe we should define the term itself. Pretty sure we’ve been using it wrong for a few centuries or so.

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  64. Just to be clear, this is not to say that there are no ideals in politics. Abraham Lincoln and his opponents had a sustained argument before the Civil War about the nature of the first line of the Declaration of Independence as a founding ideal of our country. Did “all men are created equal” — the “self-evident truth” (a religious concept) — apply only to white Europeans or to all people?

    Our nation is still fighting over that one.

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  65. Agree

    > . In the political realm, that is not the question, nor should it be.

    +1,000,000

    If any political conversation is not about the Effect then it is the wrong conversation for politics.

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  66. I do believe what needs to happen – the only thing that might help – is for those Other Christians to get rowdy about being excluded. They need to invade Evangelical spaces and bully them into submission.

    I have no hope of that happening.

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  67. What a concept.

    I’ve always viewed politics as pragmatic. Politics are the means by which we order the common life of our society. Idealism in the political realm can run amok and end up being particular ideologies imposing their religious beliefs on others.

    As we talked about in our discussion recently on abortion, the question of “When does life begin?” is a good example. In the political realm, that is not the question, nor should it be. First of all, therein lies centuries of philosophical and religious disagreement, and not even scientists are of one mind. The proper political question (addressed by Roe v. Wade) is, “When does a living fetus become a viable person, with rights that our society is obligated to uphold and defend?” This kind of logic may rankle the faithful of whatever persuasion, but it is the logic of politics and the law.

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  68. We do seem to have a very serious problem of people not listening to PEOPLE; as in going for primary sources.

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  69. > AOC is fairly upfront about her faith

    You are correct. Again, anyone who hasn’t heard her mention her faith has not listened to her.

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  70. It depends. A Democrat who is effective at implementing their policies is preferable over one who isn’t. But the opposite holds true for Republicans. 🙂

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  71. Yes, we’re talking about the views of Evangelical Christians in the US, not “Christians” in general. Too many Evangelicals refuse to recognize any Christianity but their own.

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  72. I think that’s the case, yes. Their politics seem are more tribal than Christian, no matter how much they quote the Bible (actually, a lot of it is what their favorite preacher says that the Bible says, not the actual Bible, in any translation).

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  73. Indeed. Conservative Christians refused to accept the Christianity of Jimmy Carter, the most overtly Christian president in a very long time, because they disagreed with him on other issues. What chance does Joe Biden’s religion have against such blindness to any kind of Christianity but their own?

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  74. I had assumed that, given the audience here, that the distinctions you bring up were already obvious, and I didn’t need to overly dwell on them. Besides, on the face of it, there do seem to be a lot more of them than there are of us…

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  75. Not a USian so not following everything as closely, but I get the impression AOC is fairly upfront about her faith, too. But of course, if it isn’t right-wing, GOP supporting white fundangelicalism, it somehow simply doesn’t count.
    I wonder if the issue is that you only count as a “Christian” candidate if your “Christianity” is tribal loyalty label, rather than anything you actually believe. *Not* hating on non-Christians disqualified you as a “Christian” politician.

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  76. > If the candidate implements policies that actually *do*

    …. so you are saying we should hold public officials to a standard of efficacy rather than ideology? 🙂

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  77. Spot on, Ted. I would also quote Rachel Maddow: “Watch what they do, not what they say.” It’s good advice in all political situations.

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  78. > Biden is actually pretty outspoken about his faith

    Yep. If you don’t know Joe Biden is Catholic it is a strong indication you are not actually paying attention. It comes up All-The-Time.

    Also, Joe Biden can **accurately** quote lots of Scripture. He’d do well at one of those Sunday School contests.

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  79. > Biden is a Christian.
    > Kamala Harris is a Christian.
    > Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a Christian.

    +1,000,000

    Hillary Clinton is a Christian, notable for her church attendance.

    So, what’s going on here? We are not really talking about Christianity. We are talking about Evangelicalism, a degenerate – and very exclusionary – branch of Christianity. A != B.

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  80. Well that’s the issue – candidates playing on their purported Christianity for votes definitely can’t be trusted, because they are using it as a whitewash to hide the corruption and decidedly dodgy actual agenda underneath. Their banging on about how Christian they are is specifically intended to disguise the fact that those opposing them are frequently just as Christian as they are: indeed, in the case of many, far more influenced by their Christian faith than the Christian right themselves are (anyone here thing the Orange One is Christian?).
    That it works so well is demonstrated by you talking about “Christians in this country” when you actually meant specifically only the Christian dominionist right. This fundangelical con trick is insidious, dangerous, highly effective and a big, big factor in the slow implosion of Christianity in the US (and worldwide).

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  81. Biden is actually pretty outspoken about his faith. If you looked at how often he talks about faith as a justification for his policies, and how fluently and confidently he expresses that faith, it’s certainly far more than Trump does. If evangelicals purely supported the candidate who publicly presented themselves as Christian, they’d all be voting for Biden.

    So, the appeal of Trump to evangelicals is not the Christian identity – he obviously isn’t one – but the conservative identity.

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  82. “the other important thing is that we not let ourselves get confused about what is actually a Christian value and what is just the values we’ve absorbed from our particular sub-culture instead.”

    THIS.

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  83. The problem is that if I *believe* that Christianity is my primary identity, I will *assume* that all my values are Christian values. It might not occur to me that my primary identity may be a cultural one, and that most of my values might actually come from my culture.

    My rule of thumb is: be suspicious of any “Christian” values you hold that happen to be values that your particular subculture also holds. It doesn’t mean those values are wrong (after all, every culture gets some things right), but it does mean you have to inspect them closely to be sure.

    Corollary: if “growing in Christian discipleship” is not causing you to less fully resemble your subculture, you’re not actually growing in Christian discipleship.

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  84. Taking the US as an example: picture a Venn diagram of political positions with three circles labeled “Democrat,” “Republican,” and “Christian.” Ideally we should vote for the candidate whose positions contain the most things that are inside the “Christian” circle, and as few things as possible that are outside it.

    That’s actually completely independent of whether the candidate *identifies* as Christian or not. The important thing is what they *do*, not what they claim they are. If a candidate supports policies that benefit “the alien, the orphan, and the widow” – that’s a mark in their favor. If the candidate is a racist sex predator who panders to gun-worshipers – that’s several marks against them.

    If the candidate says we should try to reduce abortion, that’s a small mark in their favor. If the candidate implements policies that actually *do* reduce abortion – like access to contraception and comprehensive sex ed, and programs to support mothers and children – that’s a much larger mark in their favor. If the candidate supports policies that *increase* the abortion rate – like cutting government aid to NGOs that provide comprehensive women’s health services just because that includes abortion – that’s a mark *against* them, even if they claim that the purpose of those policies is to fight abortion. It’s the *effect* of the policy that matters.

    If the candidate identifies as a Christian and lives out their faith in a way that will draw others to Christ, that’s a mark in their favor. If the candidate identifies as Christian and behaves in such an un-Christian way that they’re driving people away from Christ, that’s a mark against them.

    And so on. The important thing is just that we weigh a candidate based on the effect their policies actually *have*, and not based on how well they “talk the talk.” And the other important thing is that we not let ourselves get confused about what is actually a Christian value and what is just the values we’ve absorbed from our particular sub-culture instead.

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  85. And they don’t drop the word Christianity as code or dog whistle for excluding people of other or no religion.

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  86. The thing is, Biden/Harris/AOC et al don’t *specifically* identify themselves and their policies as “Christian”. You can make the case that their policies and lives are influenced by their faith, but as Adam pointed out above, that’s not how they market themselves on the campaign trail. The ones that DO specifically identify as Christians have the problems that we both see and decry.

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  87. “Right now, I’d be hard pressed to find a political agenda from Christians in this country i *would* feel comfortable with. Far too much of it is tainted with dominionism and paranoia.”
    Biden is a Christian.
    Kamala Harris is a Christian.
    Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a Christian.
    The overwhelming majority of all US politicians on both sides of the political divide are Christians: non Christians are the exception.
    It is the genius of the GOP / fundangelical pact that they have created this bizarre cognitive block in great swathes of the US population which means they simply refuse to notice this fact and make broad statements about a “Christian political agenda” as if the only Christians that somehow count as Christians in the US are the ones who are right-wing fundangelical supporters of the GOP.

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  88. I wanted to ask you a question or series of questions about what you think about Christians in Politics.

    Over the last few year or so I’ve become convinced that most people and politicians who call themselves conservative Christians are really Christian conservatives.

    (adjective noun)

    The noun is their core value. The adjective is the influence the might apply to the noun at times.

    Which to me is just sad. As it is totally backwards to what I thought of as the Christian walk.

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  89. 1. Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is in fact a Christian. So just because they say they are a Christian doesn’t mean a whole lot, especially in politics.
    2. Unfortunately even being a true Christian (not one in word only) doesn’t necessarily equal competence in governing or any other area. Among equally qualified candidates, I would prefer the Christian, but competency and actual stances on issues comes first.
    3. Yes
    4. Which Christians? Not all Christian groups have the same agendas. So the answer depends on who it is.
    5. Are we depending to much on politics? That’s the question many Christians need to be asking themselves because the answer is Yes, we are.

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  90. “5. I think I am missing a question or two that I should be asking. Maybe some of your responses will help me with other questions of my own.”

    Gotta put this one down as single-issue voting/politics. Far too many Christians are captives (willing or no) to the far right because of it.

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  91. “1. Should we overtly support Christians running for political office because they are Christian?”

    No, hell to the. Just because one is a Christian is no guarantee of either character or political skill. And right now, the former is much more lacking. As Martin Luther supposedly said, I’d rather be ruled by a competent Muslim than an incompetent Christian.

    “2. Am I able to trust the agenda of someone who is Christian any more than someone who is not?”

    If there was any doubt about that question, the past several years have put it to rest. No agenda should get a free pass from scrutiny simply because of who holds it, even if they are technically “on your side”.

    “3. Should I support whomever aligns best with me on a wide range of issues, regardless of their personal religious beliefs?”

    A thousand times yes, with the proviso that it IS a wide range of issues. Single issue voting is the road to hell.

    “4. Are there pet agendas of Christians that I would be uncomfortable with? (For example in our area their was a move at the local school board level to elect Christian trustees who would throw out a curriculum that I thought was quite fine.)”

    Right now, I’d be hard pressed to find a political agenda from Christians in this country i *would* feel comfortable with. Far too much of it is tainted with dominionism and paranoia.

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  92. > “Christian” credentials would be to me instead a big red flag,

    Same. A candidate has very little time to communicate with any given voter, that time is precious, as a candidate that time is everything. So what do they use that time to say? If they choose to use that scarce resource to tell me what church they affiliate with – I’m out, they are not serious about the job.

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  93. > 1. Should we overtly support Christians running for political office
    > because they are Christian?

    No. An election is a hiring process, a campaign is a job interview. Would you hire someone for a job because they claimed to be “Christian”? Only if you did not care about getting that job done [well].

    > 2. Am I able to trust the agenda of someone who is Christian any more
    > than someone who is not?

    No. Ask plenty of women with “Christian” husbands or boyfriends.

    > 3. Should I support whomever aligns best with me on a wide range of
    > issues, regardless of their personal religious beliefs?

    Yes, probably. As religious beliefs do not correlate particularly well to public policy issues. What is the “Christian” policy answer to economic [in]equality, water rights, water pollution, land-use, housing affordability / housing availability, transportation, the cost of college tuition, if medical insurance should be required to include dental care?

    Also, beyond agreement, there is competence. Can the person in question DO the job effectively?

    If fiscal conservatism a something one believes in is putting an incompetent in charge of public money a sound choice? Wouldn’t you rather have a disciplined person you had some disagreements with in charge of the books?

    > 4. Are there pet agendas of Christians that I would be uncomfortable
    > with? (For example in our area their was a move at the local school
    > board level to elect Christian trustees who would throw out a
    > curriculum that I thought was quite fine.)

    Yes. And is that even a “Christian” agenda item, or merely a cultural one? Again JOB INTERVIEW. Is the role of a school board to select or reject a curriculum based on ideological grounds? What is a school board for? They are the board of a corporation, they are there to manage that corporation under the prerogatives of that corporations goals, not their own goals. Someone who sits on a board to pursue THEIR OWN GOALS is a bad board member.

    Appropriateness of a topic really matters. For example in a township nearby there are township commissioners who run for office [and win] principally on the grounds that they are Pro-Life. A township commissioner. Their beliefs on abortion are completely irrelevant; funding or not funding of health services, or really any health policy at all, is something managed by THE COUNTY in my state. Township commissioners are about principally about zoning, roads & sidewalks, fire departments, and property assessment. BTW, that township’s board is viewed as a joke by many people. How does that help the people of that township? And there is the bizarre things they spend public money on.

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  94. It would be nice to be able to answer 1 “yes”, on the grounds that a candidate calling themselves “Christian” ought to be identifiable as such by their love for their fellow men and concern for the poor and helpless, which is how Jesus said Christians ought to be identifiable. However, in the real world, this is obviously not the case. In the real world, a candidate pushing their “Christian” credentials would be to me instead a big red flag, and make me cautious of trusting them. This too, though, is Biblical: Jesus had harsh words about people who prayed in public places to be seen by people, and whose works of charity and piety were announced with trumpets to show how pious and religious they were.
    If you are looking for the ethos of a candidate, then I would say look not for overt Christian piety, but for covert Christian love (even in non Christians). Don’t look at whether they say “Lord, lord” in public, but whether they give to the poor, help the helpless, comfort the sick and visit the prisoner even when no-one is looking. Jesus talked of the two sons, one of which said he obeyed his father, but didn’t, and the other who said he wouldn’t, but did. I would say look for a candidate who behaves as Christians are supposed to, whether they are actually Christian or not.

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