I check out the Huffington Post pretty frequently so that my tens of readers don’t have to dirty themselves doing so. Ocassionally while immersing myself in the latest liberal “wisdom” I find a post that I just screams “blog me”. Tonight’s winner is a post by Rev. Ron Stief. Stief is a ordained minister in the United Church of Christ and California Director for People for the American Way.

He contends that their shouldn’t be a religious litmus test for running for public office. He highlights the problem that Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) is facing by being a member of Trinity United Church of Christ which is a member of the liberal United Church of Christ (which after looking at the website at a cursory glance looks more conservative than most UCC churches). He also highlights Gov. Mitt Romney who is a Mormon which has people wondering how he will connect with evangelicals.

I actually agree with Rev. Stief, at least initially. I’m not voting for a “theologian-in-chief”, but a commander-in-chief. I am looking for the person whom I feel will best govern our nation and who also has the same values as I do. That person may be an evangelical Christian or may not be. While it isn’t a litmus test for me, it is something that I do look at. My concern with Gov. Romney has more to do with his inconsistent past on abortion and same-sex marriage than the fact he is Mormon. The fact that Sen. Barak Obama belongs to a UCC church is not so much of a concern for me than is his voting record in the U.S. Senate and his stance on various issues.

The benefit of looking at a candidate’s religion is helpful when determining whether or not they share some of the same social values that we have. It isn’t always helpful (i.e. President Clinton being a Southern Baptist), but usually is. For me this process of looking at candidates is a prayerful one. I pray that whomever is in office that person would stand for righteousness. God is in control regardless of who is office. The results at the ballot box do not surprise Him. As Tony Evans, the pastor of Oakcliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Tx. and president of the Urban Alternative has said, “God doesn’t favor donkeys or elephants…when Jesus returns He hasn’t come to take sides, but to take over.”

Where Rev. Stief lost me is when he said:

Recent history suggests there may be more religious intolerance on the way. The same ultraconservative Christian leaders who claim that their religious liberty is threatened in America will claim that Obama and Americans who share his generally progressive views cannot be good Christians based on their political positions. We’ve seen it before – with televangelists telling voters it would be sinful to vote for Bill Clinton and with several Catholic bishops joining the chorus of radical right voices attacking John Kerry’s faith in the 2004 election for supporting a woman’s constitutionally-guaranteed right to choose.

I won’t even start that our definitions of tolerance is probably light years apart. He is confusing a religious litmus test with a value litmus test. I have already said that when looking at a candidate I am looking for who best reflects my values and one whom I believe will govern well. I do not believe that someone who will not seek to protect life will govern well. Unrelated to the main topic, but I can’t leave it alone – Rev. Stief mentions “a woman’s constiutionally-guaranteed right to choose”. Umm… where is that found in the U.S. Constitution?

I want to encourage all believers to practice good citizenship, it’s part of being the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). Be involved. Don’t be apathetic. We got a glimpse of what apathy will lead to not only with the Iowa General Assembly, but U.S. Congress as well. I’m excited about 2008. A lot of candidates to look at and get to know. I’m deciding whether or not to do a public endorsement yet. I’m still praying about that. Since we have some late arrivals I’ll definitely hold off on that, and I haven’t decided yet. More to come.

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