Evangelicals, Romney, and the vote: A matter of conscience

Election day is but a few weeks away now. Most of the chatter I’ve seen on the internet lately, of course, has been about the recent debates and how the Romney campaign has been surging in the polls over the last couple of weeks. As I write this, there is much anticipation for the final debate between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. But prior to all this, much of what I saw at social media sites and the like was something else: The Evangelical base of the Republican Party fighting a bit of a civil war over whether it should support Romney.

This isn’t simply a fight between conservatives in the base and the so called “RINOs” (the “Establishment” Republicans), although that dynamic is at play as well. This is something that goes much deeper than that. It goes to the religious convictions of the Evangelical Christians themselves.

There are many Evangelicals that are sufficiently horrified by the prospect of another four years of the Obama Administration that they are fully prepared to vote for Mitt Romney, and they haven’t seen any particular need to justify their position on the matter. There are others who are actively trying to dissuade Christians from voting for Romney. And there are many reasons given for why: His record as Governor of Massachusetts, his views on allowable exceptions for abortion, and the general lack of confidence that Romney really shares their values in his heart of hearts. There is another one as well, and that is Romney’s Mormonism.

There are quite a number of Christians that are suggesting that the right thing to do in this election is either to vote for someone other than Romney or Obama, or sit this election out altogether. My friend and fellow Caffeinated Thoughts contributor David Shedlock has actually written a book essentially advocating this position. And while I certainly respect those who choose to embrace this position, it seems to me it is hardly the duty of the Christian to do so.

The accusation of voting for “the lesser of two evils” is frequently made against those who vote for candidates who, for one reason or another, fail the test of political purity. Voting for a “lesser evil” is still evil, we are reminded. I would have far more regard for this accusation if I thought for a moment that those who ordinarily assert it had really thought through the issue.

As I have written in the past, for me this whole matter is primarily dependent upon the answer to two questions: First, what are the civil obligations of Christians in a pluralistic nation and society as opposed to a distinctively Christian nation and society? Secondly, what is the nature of a vote? Surprisingly, these questions rarely get asked.

We spend a lot of time debating whether the Unites States is (or was) a Christian nation. But I think a fair assessment of the situation would lead us to conclude that the consensus Christianity once had in our country is gone, and, officially or constitutionally, pluralism is what we’ve had all along. We need to be asking ourselves what our duty is in the situation we find ourselves in rather than what once perhaps was or what we hope will be. We may long for the days in which Christianity was pervasive in our culture, and the results were happily evident. We may have even entertained hopes that our nation would embrace Christianity as its established religion in a formal way through an amendment to our constitution. But the present reality is, in my opinion, that we live in a post-Christian culture and in a nation which has codified pluralism as its established religion. We are not Jerusalem with its temple and Torah. We are, rather, Babylon with its demigods and decadence.

This is an important point, because it cannot be assumed that the Christian’s duties in each situation are identical. Writing about the relation between church and state found in The Westminster Confession, Dr. William Young, Professor emeritus of Philosophy, University of Rhode Island, writes: “The modified form of the Confession adopted by several Presbyterian denominations in this country still maintains the fundamental principle of the right and duty of the civil magistrate in religious matters, and contemplates in fact a predominantly Evangelical Christian na­tion…I, for one, would insist that it would be a disaster if our government—federal, state or local—were under the present circumstances to exercise fully the rights that are allowed even by (this) modifica­tion of the Confession adopted by a number of Presbyterian churches in this country.”

It seems clear that Young sees instances where a situation may alter rights and duties that are ordinarily required. While Young’s comments are with regard to the rights and duties of “civil magistrates”, it nonetheless also seems clear to me that the rights and duties of the Christian citizens who elect these civil magistrates may be altered in these situations as well. It is entirely possible that Christians would be obligated to vote for singularly Christian candidates if a case could legitimately be made that we presently live in a Christian nation. As Supreme Court Justice John Jay wrote, “Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers.” But even if Jay, like others, was right in asserting that the United States was a Christian nation, it strikes me as a moot point as we consider the civil obligations of a Christian in today’s circumstances.

If it is true that a Christian’s civil duties always remain the same regardless of circumstance, what are we to think about Joseph? (Gen. 41:38-44) It’s hard for me to imagine that Joseph, the most powerful man in all of Egypt next to to Pharaoh himself,  never appointed a pagan Egyptian to a place or office of civil authority.

The second consideration I mentioned earlier is the question of the nature of a vote, and this question gets far less attention than the first. I was excited some time ago when I saw that R.C. Sproul had written an article entitled Principles for Voting and I was really excited when I saw he had written this: “As a Christian you have obligations opposed (sic?) upon your conscience that in some sense other people don’t have, although they should have. And the first thing is this: You have to understand what a vote is.” His assertion about the importance of understanding the nature of a vote got my attention, because it was something I had been saying for years. I was a bit disappointed, however, because other than telling the reader about the etymology of the word (“The word vote comes from the Latin votum, which means ‘will’ or choice”) he really didn’t develop an argument for a particular definition. There are a number of questions that Sproul doesn’t address. Here are just a few:

  • Is a vote always and absolutely a highly principled endorsement?
  • Is a vote a positive and objective act?
  • Are the criteria for voting distinct from appointment?
  • Is who one votes for a matter for the Christian’s conscience?
  • Must a Christian vote for only Christian candidates?

I cannot see how a vote can be construed as a highly principled endorsement. If that’s what it is, I don’t know that I’ve ever voted for anyone in my lifetime that met that bar with the possible–possible– exception of Jack Kemp back in 1988 and 1996. In the ordinary course of things, the voter assesses how close the candidate is to his own views on issues. Some issues will be more important than others. On those issues where there is disagreement, the voter decides whether or not he can “tolerate” the candidate’s position and still support him. I like how Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association put it in an essay he wrote on Facebook: “I have come to look at candidates in one of four ways: 1. Those who are very supportive of my views. 2. Those who will listen to my views. 3. Those who are indifferent to my views. 4. Those who are openly hostile to my views.” He goes on to say more or less that candidates in groups one and two he can support. A candidate that is in group three is a possibility. A four is out of the question.

But if a vote is a highly principled endorsement, depending on how far one takes this, what candidate could possibly pass muster? I think the consistent Christian would be forced to practice political dissent (which many have over the years) and simply not vote. Period.

A good friend of mine (who I profoundly respect) once told me in no uncertain terms that a vote was a positive, objective act. He went on to say that when one voted for a man he is saying “I will have this man rule over me”. I suggested that voting might be a subjective thing in which the “I will” is replaced by “I would rather”, where one is choosing who will do him the least amount of harm. He replied that the intent or motivation was irrelevant to the nature of the vote. It is a positive act that is immediate to the end. So, in other words, he was saying you can’t really vote against someone even if that is what may be motivating you the most. Nor can you cast a vote for a candidate you “would rather” see elected, given the choices on the ballot, as opposed to one you “will” to elect. I have two thoughts about my friend’s position: First, I simply don’t see how anyone can put something like a vote in such a rigid construction as this. It seems to me that the tally of a vote may well be an objective thing, but the act of voting itself cannot be. It is quite subjective as far as the intent of the voter is concerned. It may well be true that no one cares what the voter’s intent was when they count the votes, but the voter’s conscience obviously may care very much. Secondly, in my estimation a consistent application of this rigid construction necessitates the highly principled endorsement I mentioned earlier, and would necessarily end in disengaging from political activity.

I think that very few people would contend that the criteria for voting is identical to that required in making an appointment to an office. Unlike a vote, an appointment is an act immediate to its end, and is generally understood to carry much greater weight. However, David Shedlock, in his new book With Christ in the Voting Boothdoes urge Christians to vote “as if you were appointing the person to office”. Shedlock is rightly concerned with the Christian honoring Christ through his vote, and correctly observes that the Christian’s conscience will be clear when Christ is honored. But I think the notion of making no distinction between a vote and an appointment isn’t necessary to the honoring of Christ. To be fair, so far as I know, Shedlock doesn’t think so either, even though he advocates that approach. Shedlock’s work deserves a fair hearing. While I disagree with a number of his conclusions, he has done his best to reach them from principles derived from scripture. For that he is to be commended.

Who one votes for is indeed a matter of conscience. Despite all the incendiary remarks aimed at those Evangelical Christians who are Romney supporters, I know of no one who is going so far as to say that the vote is not a matter of conscience. And most of the criticism I hear about Romney is not about his Mormonism (Sproul makes no mention of it at all). It’s mostly about how he (Romney) looks at same sex marriage and abortion. But in any case, a vote for him, or anyone else for the matter of that, should be a private matter that is between one’s conscience and God.

There are certainly plenty of reasons not to vote for Romney. It’s completely appropriate for Evangelicals to “sit this one out” if that’s what their consciences dictate. But it’s not appropriate to accuse Evangelicals who support Romney of being faithless, unprincipled hacks for voting for him. Allow me to be clear: I remain unconvinced that a Christian must vote for a Christian (and only a Christian) in our present circumstances. I say this even though it is still my hope and desire that some day our nation would establish Christianity as the religion of the land (Psalm 2:10-12, 68:32). I think that a Christian may look at his vote as merely a civil instrument that he can use to attempt to slow down the progress of evil. His intention is to elect a candidate who he hopes will do the least amount of harm to him and the things he holds dear.

Once again, let’s consider the Israelites in Egypt (Ex 1:8, Acts 7:18-19): Would it have been appropriate for the Israelites to ask God in prayer for a Pharaoh who remembered Joseph and would treat them kindly?  Would it have been wrong for them to use any civil power (such as a vote) to bring about that end?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chas-Holman/1333779011 Chas Holman

    “It’s not appropriate to accuse Evangelicals who support Romney of being faithless, unprincipled hacks for voting for him. ”

    For my over 60 years of life, these folks have demanded that Mormons are cult member, and until the other day billy grahams own website said these cult members (his words) ‘worshiped the Devil’ .

    All the hatred and dividing and making people suspect of each other,. All the castigating, finger pointing and accusations IN GOD’S NAME.. all the bloomin people this hurt oh so very badlly, Families it ripped up even in some cases,.

    ——–

    My good lord.. it is just not acceptable that we are just now supposed to put this water under the bridge and quickly, like a thief in the night, so we can usher in the era of a new Caesar (leader) of man,.

    Sorry, the whole thing smells to high heaven,.. the paradox, it seems these people are going to be willing to do anything they can to get the ‘Christian guy’ out of office..

    Strange dark times.. the Bible warned us of such times.. look for the wolves in sheep clothing, and those who speak ‘his’ name for personal edification and gain.

    • Frankie Carpenter Kemp

      The election issue . . . what exactly is my responsibility as a follower of Christ? Jesus, Himself, exhorted us to obey the laws of the land and pay our taxes. We are subjects to our lawmakers. If we believe what the Bible says, we realize that it is the Sovereignty of God that establishes “kingdoms.” We don’t do it.

      I cannot–in good conscience–align myself with either man. I cannot say that I am voting Biblical principles if I vote for Mitt Romney–as much as I hate to say that, because for now, he definitely looks like the lesser of two evils–for now.

      I propose a question. Who are we kidding? Do we honestly think that Romney is going to somehow “return us” to a nation under God? How? He doesn’t even serve the Truth, but many of us are trying to water down truth to make him more acceptable. I would say that the very fact that we don’t have a clear choice ought to indicate to us just how desperate are the times we live in.

      Many–myself included–might desire to vote for Romney in hopes that we as a nation might rebuild some of what we have lost, but I challenge you to ask yourself a question. How? How are we going to do that? Americans . . .we worship our PROSPERITY. We worship our choices . . . we sacrifice innocents so that we can do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it–and then we try to put a stamp on it and call ourselves a “nation under God.” Sickening.

      I don’t want to offend anyone, but it’s the truth. I realize that in my life are MANY people who every day in large and small ways, through the Grace of God, rise above the collective attitude our “Americanism” has created in us. I am grateful to God alone for trumping man in that regard. There definitely still are people in America who love the Lord their God and love their neighbors as themselves, but I am no longer comfortable saying that that is true about our attitude as a nation. That is why I now cringe when I say the pledge of allegiance. We are a nation under a god–but it’s NOT the ONE TRUE GOD. We, as a nation, serve the god of our own bellies. We serve ourselves–even in our churches–and we send young men and women to sacrifice their lives and their futures, clinging to some desperate idea that America is somehow some special little island unto herself where God will bless us because we SAY that we are a nation under Him, but our hearts do not bow to His authority. What does the Bible say–what did Jesus say about hypocrites?

      So . . . I ask myself, what WOULD Jesus tell me to do if I could sit down and have a conversation with Him? I can . . .I can have a conversation with MY GOD because of Christ in Me, and when I humble myself and approach His Word with an attitude that acknowledges His Sovereignty over my life and all the schemes of man and the prince of this world, I can find Biblical answers.

      As a nation, we are reaping what we have sown–and the Church is included in that. That is why we are in the social, political, and economic mess we are in. We have taken our liberty and used it to serve ourselves and not THE GIVER of the only liberty that really matters. It is no wonder that our young people are disillusioned. Is there any hope for America as a nation? Only God can decide that, and we are foolish if we think that God waits around on us to get anything right before He decides to do exactly what He will do in order to redeem His own–not just Americans.

      What does Jesus tell me? The same thing He always said, “Love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and all they mind, and all thy soul, and love thy neighbor as thyself.” For me . . .for me . . . this means that I will open my mouth and tell the truth–ALL of it. I will not at this time, endorse either candidate with a vote based on Biblical principles. They both lie, and they both listen to lies. Read what Proverbs 29 has to say about that. I refuse to uphold one over the other. I tried to justify choosing Romney, but that just won’t work for me anymore.

      Does that make me a bad “American?” Probably–but I don’t care who calls me that or thinks that about me. I serve THE CREATOR of the cosmos. My Father owns the sheep on a thousand hills, and He will decide when He has heard enough of the lies of this world. He will decide at what point He will deliver us from the bondage of this life. He will decide when there has been enough innocent blood shed so that mankind can continue to worship themselves. He will decide when it’s time to reveal His Son to all of mankind.

      Until that day comes, I will pay my taxes and do the best I can with His help to do the best I can for His Glory in whatever circle He places me. I will speak the Truth as He enables me to speak it, and I will beg for His mercy on all the innocents of this world whose lives here will be forever affected by the corruption of this world. I will ask for mercy, even, for blind men and women–including myself–and pray that God’s people will not be afraid to tell the truth and that they will demonstrate the Love of Christ to their neighbors, no matter how bad the conditions here get. I will ask my God to help ME to genuinely love other people–not just use them to serve my own interests, whatever those interests may be. I will ask Him for eyes to see hurting people and for the ability to help them–not just help for a day but help for eternity.

      One day . . . one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord–the only solution for the depraved condition of mankind. It will not depend on anything man does to prove it. GOD WILL PROVE it–and nothing, nothing on this earth will stop it–no cries of mercy then will change anything. Oh, Lord, oh Lord . . .give us an abundance of mercy now. Mercy that will open blind eyes and deaf ears and soften hard hearts.

      In my own personal life, the ONLY THING that I have to rely on that enables me to bow to the authority of my Creator is the broken will that came to me when I encountered Jesus. The same is true for every individual and every nation. America’s will and America’s disobedience is strong and bent toward liberty to serve self. We stink to high heaven, and we are kidding ourselves if we think God will continue to allow us to use HIS NAME in vain one second longer than it suits His purposes for the redemption of individuals.

      So . . .that’s my soap box. No, I am not perfect. I am ABSOLUTELY GUILTY, myself, of serving and worshiping all the temporary things of this life. I’m no longer afraid to admit it, and I’m no longer afraid to say that the only reason I’m not afraid to admit my guilt is because I’ve been given a personal reprieve from it. No, not permission to keep on doing all the things that make me guilty. A WAY to overcome those things–and a pardon for my guilt. It’s ALL about God’s solution for man’s inability to stop worshiping himself: Jesus. It’s all about an encounter with Jesus . . .absolutely nothing I can or will ever do for myself.

      What’s really disconcerting is that the Christian “right” is spending all this time trying to control politics so that we can keep America from facing judgment, when Jesus, Himself, called us to go out into the highways and the hedges seeking those who would answer His call. How can we in good conscience do that? How can we see and know what Jesus told us to be watching for and shut our mouths to the gospel message? How can we choose the urgency over the politics of our country over the urgency of the message of the gospel to desperate men and women. True . . .Jesus will have all those who have been given to Him by the Father–but He told us. He told us to get out and share the gospel. Instead, we spend our energies arguing politics.

      The only source for Truth in this life is the JESUS who is the embodiment of the Word of God. It is to Him that I pledge my allegiance. Hold me to that pledge and provoke me to remember that He said, “whatsoever you have done to the least of these, you’ve done to me.” Oh, Lord! Give us ears to hear what all that means and courage to follow through in our actions. Help us to love like You and live like You in world full of lies. We are at your mercy. We are like Jonathan Edwards said all those years ago–we are all “sinners in the hands of an angry God.” He is sending Jesus to set the captives free and redeem His own. I am as sure of that as I am of anything. Oh, Lord, forgive us when we fail to remember why we’re really here, and forgive us when we fail each other. This world is FULL of the “least of these.” Oh, help us see them and not ourselves!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Myers/1024026834 Brian Myers

        Frankie, I respect your position…right up to the point where you make your conscience the barometer for everyone else’s on this issue (perhaps you aren’t going that far, but the implication in what you’ve written is pretty clear). And that’s where I have a real problem.

      • Frankie Carpenter Kemp

        I did not mean to imply that my conscience should be the barometer for everyone else’s. Absolutely not. I was simply seeking to convey why as of today, I am not voting in this year’s election.

        My conscience is a product only of the Holy Spirit working in me in the backdrop of my life’s position, experiences, circumstances, and my response to those things in relation to what I hear from Him in the Word of God and in my personal relationship with Him.

        I realize that what I mean to say and what someone else understands from what I mean to say aren’t always the same thing . . .the only implication that I wanted to make perfectly clear is that people who know the Truth of the message of Christ ought to be doing everything they can to play their part in delivering it. Not voting and voicing my reasons for not voting are part of my way to do that . . .

        Most often, I am incapable of judging whether or not any other person is doing what they “ought” to be doing . . .what individuals do with what they hear from the Lord is their cross to carry. However, I can look at what Believers are doing collectively to fulfill our collective mission. When I do that, I am pointed to my own guilt, but I’m also pointed to the guilt of us all. There’s no running from it–even when I want to justify it by saying we WANT God to be in charge of America and that is why we seek Godly leaders, but we are fooling ourselves if we think that it is our Christian duty to get the “right” leaders elected. We may play a part in getting someone elected, but it may not be the part we think we are playing. Ultimately, God is in charge of all of it.

        We are kidding ourselves if we think we can change His will and His purposes. Does that mean I think that the “times” are fulfilled. I DO NOT KNOW THAT. All I know is that Jesus told me to watch and wait and be prepared, and He told me what to watch for–and He told me to spread the gospel message. He WILL make that happen in His people or else the Bible is a lie, and hopefully, we all know it isn’t.

        You know, at first . . .I had a problem with Billy Graham endorsing Mitt Romney and removing references to mormonism as a cult from his website. But, when I bow to the Sovereignty of God, I have to realize that I don’t always know the bigger picture of everything. I can even say that because I trust the testimony of the life of Billy Graham and the evidence that that life has provided for me that he is a man committed to delivering the message of the gospel, I can trust to a point that he is obeying what God has shown him to do. I can’t tell anyone else what their part to play is in this life. I only know what mine is, and I’m supposed to say it.

        Sometimes our own decisions are provoked by the decisions of others–that doesn’t make ours better than the other person’s–they just make them MADE. I have decided that delivering the Love of Christ is my most important mission in life. I can’t tell other people what that should look like in them–I only know what it looks like in me.

      • GrannyLanny

        Thank you….I have been praying without ceasing for God’s direction. You have given voice to my deepest conflicts about casting my vote. I cannot vote..first time since in 42 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.clark1 Craig Clark

    I can think of one reason why God would like Romney to win. His presidency would be a daily reminder to pray for his, and his family’s salvation.
    You should remind your friend who thinks a vote is a statement that we want the person to rule over us – that in American the power rests with the people. Elected officials are our employees, not our masters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/bret.a.bartz Bret A. Bartz

      The way that the power rests with the people is through the voting process, so your logic seems circular. So then, the power which rests with the people is to elect those people who rule over us, right? What am I missing?

  • http://www.facebook.com/bret.a.bartz Bret A. Bartz

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that most of the fingers are being pointed at those evangelicals who plan to “sit this one out”, rather than those who still wish to go the “lesser of two evils” route. That’s been the experience in my case, anyway. Lot’s of condemnation for “throwing away my vote”.

  • Cal Beisner

    The Lord Jesus Christ Himself not being on any political ballot, we never have the option of voting for a perfect candidate. Consequently, we always vote for a mix of good and evil. Voting for the “lesser of two evils” therefore means the same thing as voting for the “greater of two goods.” In reality, when one votes for the lesser of two evils, he votes for the increment of good separating the chosen candidate from the rejected candidate.

    Of course, some will tell us that, facing three or more candidates, two of whom we understand to have a plausible chance of winning and the other(s) not, but it’s one of the others who is the least of all the evils (or the greatest of all the goods), we should in conscience vote for the least (greatest) despite the fact that he has no plausible chance of winning. When we respond that doing this amounts to voting against the lesser of the two evils (greater of the two goods) who actually have a plausible chance of winning, these folks will tell us that we’re faithless–that we should trust God to bring about the good result, since after all in His omnipotent providence He’s fully capable of that. Uh, right. That, I suggest, is an example of putting the Lord our God to the test, a violation of the command, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” But I’ll believe these folks REALLY believe this when they ignore all ballot listings and simply vote by write-in for the person they think best qualified of all citizens in the nation (or maybe everyone in the world) to hold the office. After all, God in His omnipotent providence could cause a plurality of all voters to write in that same person’s name.

    But these folks won’t go that far. No, they’ll assure us that if EVERYBODY voted on principle, the RIGHT guy would get elected, even though all the polls in advance show he has no plausible chance. THAT assumes that EVERYBODY has the same principles, and the same judgment of which candidate best matches those principles–or at least that a plurality of qualified voters does. But THAT is precisely what’s in question in a vote, and it begs the question to assume it before the test.

    I love Mormons. Having spent seven years in cult apologetics (the first four working under the late great cult apologist Walter R. Martin) and during that time studied Mormonism in great depth and witnessed to many Mormons (some of whom, by the grace of God, came to the true Christ), I hate MormonISM with a passion because it’s dragging so many people to hell. (Let’s be clear: Mormonism holds to a false god, denies the vicarious satisfaction of God’s wrath by the atoning death of Christ, denies the essential gospel doctrines of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and diverges from genuine Christianity in many, many other ways. It’s simply not Christianity.) But when I go to the voting booth, I’m not voting on how to get to heaven. I’m voting on who, among candidates with a plausible chance to win, is going to be the better person to hold a given office. Were the candidates with a plausible chance to win in my mind equal in all other respects in my mind but one were a Christian and the other(s) not, I would vote for the Christian. But that’s not the case in the upcoming election–if it’s ever been the case in American history.

    During the primaries, I argued for, promoted, and donated to two other Republican candidates over Romney. He certainly isn’t the best qualified, in my mind, of all the Republican primary candidates. He’s also not the best qualified, in my mind, of all the candidates who will be on November’s ballot. I’d rather have either the Constitution Part or the Libertarian Party candidate, if they were to be had. But neither of them has a plausible chance of winning, and a vote for either would be a vote (MY vote) taken OUT of the tally for the one candidate who has a plausible chance of defeating Obama. And despite all my problems with his pragmatism, with what I consider to be his serious lack of understanding of the federal Constitution (particularly regarding the enumerated powers and the Tenth Amendment), with his squishy stance on abortion, his squishy stance on same-sex “marriage,” with his views on publicly funded health care, I’m convinced that Romney is considerably less of an evil (more of a good) than Obama. Hence, I’m going to vote for Romney. And I shall do it with a completely clear conscience, because among those with a plausible chance to win, there is no better option.

    And yes, Craig Clark: Let us by all means be praying for Romney, for his family, and for all Mormons.

  • http://treeofmamre.wordpress.com/ John Scotus

    Sorry, I lost the link, but the latest polls show that evangelicals are overwhelmingly supporting Romney in this election, so there is no “evangelical civil war” over this issue–there are just a handful of evangelical leaders saying either that we shouldn’t vote for someone unless that person glorifies Christ, or that we shouldn’t vote at all.
    The key point with most evangelicals appears to be not that Romney is great for Christianity, but that Obama has been an unmitigated disaster for the church and social conservatism. I myself have exceedingly low expectations for Romney, but while he may not actively defend Christian values, he has given no indications that he is hostile to them or plans a war against them. However, Obama has been engaged in a war against Christian values and against the church. To refuse to take a position on the election and to tell others not to vote in the name of Christ is very much an abdication of responsibility on the part of one who would style himself a Christian leader.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brian-Myers/1024026834 Brian Myers

      Actually, John, there are more than a “handful of leaders” involved in this. It may well be a minority of Evangelicals, but I wouldn’t be dismissive of them. And in the circles some of us are in it can seem very much like what I described: “…a bit of a civil war…”

      • http://treeofmamre.wordpress.com/ John Scotus

        No, not a civil war. When Christian leaders start arguing over whether it is right to vote to begin with (which is essentially what this is about), rather than whether it is right to vote against someone who is trying to plunge the nation into the abyss, then they are just on a steep trajectory into irrelevancy. Most people with sense have better things to do than to put up with such nonsense.
        Flashback to the early 1930s in Germany. Surely, there was a good reason not to vote for or support any of the parties. However, there was even a better reason to vote against and go to war against one of the parties. Yet, the church in Germany dithered and wrung its hands, allowing its country to be drug off in chains.
        In America today, at a bare minimum, the abortion issue should be enough to get Christians off the pews and into the ballot box. Yet, a handful of people (yes, a handful) are squabbling over whether it is even right to be involved. Disgusting.

      • Guest

        This is an example of what you seem to be dismissive of: http://www.renewamerica.com/columns/stone/121015

  • mobyditch

    True evangelicals will not vote for any member of the Mormon cult much less for one running for President. What is lost with most people but not true evangelicals is that Romney owes his allegiance to the Mormon church FIRST and foremost before and above country. That is not acceptable for any candidate.

    • rebart

      Religions of American Presidents

      For those hate-mongering Evangelicals who don’t want to vote
      for Romney because of his religion, here is a list of Presidents whom they
      would not vote for based on their Evangelical beliefs:

      Four Presidents were Unitarians: John Adams, John Q. Adams,
      Millard Fillmore, William Howard Taft.

      Thomas Jefferson had no real religious affiliations, but was
      close to Unitarianism.

      JFK was Catholic

      Abraham Lincoln never expressed a belief in Jesus.
      Unafilliated.

      Obama spent 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United
      Church of Christ and its Black Theology.

  • SJ

    But it’s not appropriate to accuse Evangelicals who support Romney of being faithless, unprincipled hacks for voting for him.

    I would agree with that. But it’s not wrong to vigorously disagree with them or to question their discernment, as long as one can do so respectfully. There were a lot of well-meaning Christians who supported (and still do) Herman Cain, but I think they seriously lacked discernment in order to believe that all the allegations against him were just part of some nutty left-wing conspiracy. ;)

    One thing I find interesting is that many Christians seem to think it’s just so clear-cut that Romney is the “lesser” of two evils. The whole matter is debatable. In fact, many Christians believe that Romney would be worse for our country in the long run because not only is he similar to Obama in numerous ways, but he also seems to be much better at covering up his evil. As the saying goes, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Personally, I don’t know who would be “better” for our country for the next 4 years, but I do think it’s rather cavalier just to assume (as many Christians are doing) that a Romney victory is obviously God’s will. At this point, I would surmise that only God really knows what would be better for our country. So, each person should a) vote his conscience and b) pray that God’s will be done, and then leave the rest up to God.

    Concerning the whole philosophy of voting for the “lesser of two evils,” I personally think it’s a very lazy one, because it involves no inherent objective criteria whatever. In general, it doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to simply choose between two alternatives. It does require more thought, however, to look at various criteria and decide whether a candidate actually makes the grade. It also requires a person to draw a line in the sand. In addition, it takes a lot of strength and conviction to refuse to vote for a major-party candidate if neither meets one’s criteria, instead of just following the crowd like a lemming and voting out of fear. However, with the “lesser of two evils” philosophy, just about anything goes. So, what happens if the GOP nominates someone from GOProud in 2016? Or what if it turns out that a future GOP nominee will end up approving the killing of 3 fewer babies (among millions) than the Democratic nominee? Does one vote for the GOP nominee then? Where does the madness ever end? The thing is, it never has to–unless God intervenes. Ultimately, unless one uses objective criteria when voting, then there’s really no definitive answer to the question, “How low can you go???”

    • Frankie Carpenter Kemp

      People may really “hit” me on this one . . . but perhaps, if we all truly examine our hearts, we’ll understand the truth of what I’m saying . . .

      Our “patriotism,” itself, is a brand of idolatry. We could get by with it in our consciences as long as the prevailing attitude in America was to be in subject to the Word of God–that somehow justified for us our idolatrous ideology: liberty, democracy, freedom. Think about it . . .the idea of democracy itself rails against submission to the authority of God. THE PEOPLE should rule . . .That’s all well and good as long as “THE PEOPLE” are first all in submission to God. We set ourselves up to fail with our own ideas. Does that mean I am in favor of communism? No–not communism or socialism as defined and ruled by men who do not acknowledge the Sovereignty of God and who will selfishly serve themselves and whatever group happens to have the most power and are able to hide their selfish motives behind pleasing rhetoric.

      Examine the teachings of the early church. They came together and shared all their goods in common. If a community of believers were to do that today, they would be ridiculed and labeled all sorts of things . . .

      Am I advocating communism in America? Absolutely not. Democracy worked to suit God’s purposes–and it may continue to do so, but I am not so foolish as to believe that mankind is the one who controls the outcome of history. Yes, we have choices to make and we will have to live with the consequences of those we make and those made for us by the people in power over us.

      True democracy is an illusion, anyway–as is every form of government created by man. We would not need government if every human being would bow to the authority of God. They won’t, so we set up government. Do we not realize that the power we have over those who make the laws that govern us is very limited? They want us to believe that we have a voice, but they no longer bow to the voice of the constituency. No . . . they pander to us and manipulate us and tell us what we want to hear so that we will vote for them and be quieted, thinking we’ve somehow played a part. Have any leaders EVER truly done what the public wanted? Think about it . . .think about leadership in the smallest circles you experience and then expand it. Don’t leaders, by definition, adopt an attitude that their position somehow makes them privy to something the rest of us are not? Very, very few leaders tell the entire truth about all situations because they know that to do so would hinder “progress” on an issue because to allow the public to discuss it would be to invite pandemonium. Leaders decide what ideas they will allow and what ideas they will squash before they ever see the light of day. Truth is, most people WANT to be told what is right and they WANT to trust those in authority over them to make the tough decisions for us–they also want to be listened to when they have legitimate concerns. Politicians fool us all the time into believing they are trustworthy and capable of governing us because they know how to act like they are listening, but most of them have already made up their minds about what they will do. Maybe there are those out there who truly have the best interests of the people of America in mind. It’s really hard for me to tell.

      Am I advocating a revolt against our leadership? Absolutely not. Jesus commanded me to be in submission to the governments in authority over me–but He did not ever say to call them something that they are not. He did not tell me to pledge my allegiance to my country. Sorry . . . I’m sorry to say that. I apologize to all the men and women through the years who have died for the ideals America advocates. I do not mean to dishonor your sacrifice, and I am not ignorant of the rewards of the illusion of “democracy.” I know that the blood of American people has been spilled to protect my right to freely voice my ideas. I understand that, and I recognize that. I honor that–but not above my allegiance to the Truth. I also believe that God has used the prosperity of America to advance MANY, MANY, good things for people here and all over the world. I also still say that I wouldn’t want to live in any other country on this earth–but we are fooling ourselves if we trust what men say more than what God says. We have to get honest with ourselves about our own motivations for casting a vote.

      In the end . . .there is a much bigger conflict going on than most of us will acknowledge or are even capable of acknowledging. Believing people MUST seek the truth found in the Word of God, and they must be led by the Holy Spirit of the Living God and not their emotional responses to the word of man. Don’t even blindly accept ANYTHING I SAY. Seek the Truth. Always seek the Truth.

      As long as people cling to an ideal, instead of to the truth, they will be deceived and led around by rhetoric. Think about it . . . even what I am doing right now is spewing rhetoric. The government does not want us to think for ourselves–they distract us with all kinds of arguments and issues to HIDE the real issues and the real agendas. Some of our leaders are themselves led around by the nose and do not even know it–and we follow them because we like what they promise us. I can no longer put my trust in man. I will submit to the authority of my elected leaders–until that submission requires me to disobey my God’s authority over me, but I will not be willingly deceived any more. For me, casting a vote is like conceding to deception.

      Don’t blindly follow what I say, though–DON’T. Search for answers for yourself. Answers that God will give you in His Word. Challenge me if you see me in error–that is what we are supposed to do for each other. We are not supposed to blindly follow any man.

      • Frankie Carpenter Kemp

        In all the “rhetoric” I’ve just spewed, I have illustrated the dangers of our distraction. Believing people cannot and must not be content that arguing politics is our “Christian” duty. Our mission, as issued by Jesus Himself, is to go out into the world, making disciples of all men–teaching them to observe whatsoever He has commanded. We have to speak the Truth. We have to tell people that governments don’t save them and cannot help them in eternity. We cannot worship our religious freedom and not use it to tell people of the only liberty that matters to God. We are to LOVE people and love them enough to help meet their physical needs if it is in our power to do so, but we are also to tell them the Truth. We are to proclaim that there is only one way, JESUS, and that He is coming to judge the quick and the dead. We shrink back from that . . .Get honest. We do. We don’t want to be called lunatics or fanatics, and we don’t want our failings in the flesh to be judged by others, so we shut our mouths to the Truth and are satisfied instead by political arguments. We want to keep our lives the way they are–but if you read the Bible and ask God to help you understand what it is saying, you will see that we are NOT going to get to keep the ease of our lives–not in our flesh the way it is now.

        The work of the Bride of Christ is being purified even as we speak. I believe that. We will do what He has said we will do. We will be the salt of the earth–but it isn’t going to come easily and without struggle. We have to set aside the sin that doth so easily beset us from our true mission. Our sin is our worship of our way of life, instead of our commitment to HIS WAY.

        I’m simply trying to get Believing people to wake up . . . to wake up and start reaching out to other people with the gospel message. To live like Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” I need to do it myself–I need to practice what I preach. It’s hard to do when you are distracted by trying to save your way of life, instead of losing your desire to keep it.

    • David Shedlock

      You have said it better than I could ever do, SJ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Maury-Jones/757751167 Maury Jones

    In reading the article and reading the comments, it seems very strange to me that so many reject Romney as being Christian. He may not believe exactly as you do (which church does?) but he believes and studies the King James version of the Holy Bible and he prays daily to God in the name of Jesus Christ, as Jesus taught us to. He has accepted Jesus as his personal savior and he believes that “only in and through Jesus Christ” may we be saved. He attends a church EVERY SUNDAY which has the name of Jesus Christ on the building, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (often called the Mormon Church, although you won’t find that name on the building). Three major meetings are held in a three hour Sunday session; Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School, and Priesthood meeting for men or Relief Society for women. The main meeting is Sacrament Meeting which is worship service wherein the bread and water, emblems of the Lord’s atonement, are passed to members of the congregation and which has the purpose of renewing covenants made at baptism.
    Here is the Blessing on the Bread, which is prayed with exactness before passing to every member of the congregation.

    The above is a very accurate portrayal of what every Mormon, including Romney, believes.

    • David Shedlock

      You said you support your doctrines from the Bible. Where in the Bible does it teach that Jehovah has a father? and a mother?

  • phillipcsmith

    Refusing to vote for Romney is to in effect vote for Obama. The only ones who can stand in the way of Obama having a second term are those willing to vote for Romney. If one sits home rather than voting for Romney, they in effect are voting to re-elect Obama.

    • David Shedlock

      Uncle! Uncle! I give up. The principle you put forth is highly rational. I have decided not to vote for Obama. Now, that counts as a vote for Romney. Right? Right?

  • rebart

    Religions of American Presidents

    For those hate-mongering Evangelicals who don’t want to vote
    for Romney because of his religion, here is a list of Presidents whom they
    would not vote for based on their Evangelical beliefs:

    Four Presidents were Unitarians: John Adams, John Q. Adams,
    Millard Fillmore, William Howard Taft.

    Thomas Jefferson had no real religious affiliations, but was
    close to Unitarianism.

    JFK was Catholic

    Abraham Lincoln never expressed a belief in Jesus.
    Unafilliated.

    Obama spent 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United
    Church of Christ and its Black Theology.

  • Frankie Carpenter Kemp

    If you read my earlier posts, it may sound like I’m “back pedaling.” I’m not. I still believe everything I wrote earlier. But . . .maybe here’s my real problem: Is it wrong for me to choose to vote for someone because I prefer his economic, social, foreign, and moral policies over another candidate’s? Is it wrong for me, as someone who trusts and believes the Word of God to CARE about who my President is?

    For me . . .I think what has made it a problem for me is turning it into something I do for my real purpose on this earth (which is to live to honor and glorify Christ in me and spread the gospel). Voting in a Presidential election is just part of living here–much as is the style of clothing I choose and the way I wear my hair. If I want to equate a vote in an election with eternity–well, I can’t do it. Maybe that’s been my problem all along. Yes, all of my choices every day are shaped by WHO I AM, and I’ll end up voting the way I vote BECAUSE OF WHO I AM–but to turn a political vote into a religious compulsion–well, it’s just wrong. I’m pretty sure Jesus wouldn’t be wasting time worrying about politics. Maybe that’s why I’ve had such a problem . . .Maybe that’s why we should separate “religion” from politics. Don’t take that the wrong way–I’m not saying that who we are spiritually won’t be reflected in the way we vote or the way we govern–but maybe to continually make it a question of religion actually does more harm to the spread of the gospel than anything–because it inevitably leads to pointing our fingers at men, instead of Jesus.

    By definition, worrying about economic, social, foreign . . .all that stuff IS NOT a Christian value. Jesus told us not to worry about any of that stuff . . .so why do we want to call a vote a Christian value? Call it what it is–men’s way of controlling men. That’s all it is. We live here, and we know we can’t leave men to govern themselves . . .but let’s not equate a vote with our true mission in life. Maybe that’s been my problem all along–trying to make it a “religious” thing, when it’s not.

    We don’t need to be deceived by our leaders–absolutely not ever, and we shouldn’t be deceived about what we’re doing when we’re voting. So . . .I guess I’m back on the fence, waiting to hear what the Lord tells me about what I just said–seems like that’s the story of my life sometimes. :-)