“This meeting marks the end of the Christian Right,” Michael Farris, a national homeschooling pioneer and longtime figure of the Christian Right, wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday. He noted that he was present at the first gathering of the Moral Majority in 1980: “The premise of the meeting in 1980 was that only candidates that reflected a biblical worldview and good character would gain our support. … Today, a candidate whose worldview is greed and whose god is his appetites (Philippians 3) is being tacitly endorsed by this throng. … This is a day of mourning.” ~The Washington Post
When Michael Farris wrote those words concerning a recent gathering of top evangelical leaders, it struck a deep resonant chord within me. I knew on a gut level his words were absolutely true. To put things in perspective, I have been a Christian since high school, a former L’Abri student of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, an early volunteer organizer in the 1988 Pat Robertson Presidential bid and a supporter of his post bid formation of the Christian Coalition. I was a “Contract with America” Gingrich Republican who could appreciate the Blue Dog Democrats. Truth be told, I was an “I already miss Reagan” Republican.
However, as I continued in my Christian pilgrimage I learned things about Jesus, myself and my many Christian brothers and sisters. Life in the “real world” of ministry kept putting me at odds with the Republican Party and the evangelical base dominating it. Both were becoming more dishonest and manipulative, more authoritarian and exacting on social issues and less gracious in policy. Law was destroying grace.
Furthermore, increased government and taxation were hindering freedom and innovation. We are meant to be creative and enterprising, and yet I saw our creativity being stifled! The politics of war and NSA spying fostered fear and suspicion of “the other.” We are also meant to live in community and to associate freely with others, but that was becoming strained by the isolationism and fear-mongering that was running rampant. I began wondering if the Church was losing touch with its Gospel message. I felt I was becoming a man without a church, and a voter without a party.
For me, the final straw was Donald Trump and his incendiary behavior. Not simply Trump’s campaign persona but also how it revealed the impoverished state of Republican rank and file members of Congress. Furthermore, the absence of our political and spiritual leadership speaking out against Mr. Trump’s behavior and rhetoric was shocking to me. It astounds me that the evangelical heroes of my youth, like Wayne Grudem would end up endorsing him. I feel compelled to speak out. Think about this: If you or I—as a student or Professor at Wayne Grudem’s Phoenix Seminary or at Jerry Falwell, Jr.’s Liberty University, or on the airwaves of James Dobson’s Focus on the Family or as a staff member in a Ralph Reed or a Mike Huckabee church—were to speak or behave as Trump has, we’d be resoundingly disciplined. If I were in a staff position, I’d be removed from ministry. Fired.
In December of last year James Dobson endorsed Ted Cruz for President. Now, he has endorsed Donald Trump a man Ted Cruz refuses to endorse. America, and much of her spiritual leadership, is locked into a faulty understanding of the vote as a means of mere political power as opposed to the voice of an empowered conscience. By constantly choosing the lesser of two evils, America has been reduced to the bottom of the barrel. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are the end result. And we, the Evangelical Church, are in bed with this?
Where are our spiritual elders? Why are not more speaking out? This election has caused us, as a Nation, to re-evaluate who and what we are, and what we are about. But that’s a good thing. It certainly caused me to take a solid look at Governor Gary Johnson. When Governor Bill Weld became his running mate, I stopped looking back. I chose to look at what I can support in these Libertarian candidates and discovered there is much in this two-Governor ticket that I can rally behind.
1) “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.” ~ Proverbs 12:22
I don’t have to choose between the lesser of two evils. I can vote my conscience. Governor Johnson epitomizes integrity and honesty. “There is no self-righteous agenda in his campaign or in his resume.” (examiner.com) His book, Seven Principles of Good Government, belies a genuine humility. His “free market enterprise” approach to economics and innovation ardently denounces the corruption of today’s cronyism. Capitalism, with its self-empowering abilities, has become a distorted abomination supported by the Clintons and Trumps of the world. Johnson opposes both crony capitalism and the corrupt, compromising relationship of Congress to lobbyists. He is a consistent advocate for term limits and the reduction of political corruption they have engendered.
2) “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2Cor3:17
We as Christians are absolutely feeling the ever increasing pressure of the World around us. Thankfully, Governor Johnson is a genuine Constitutionalist and has a high respect and strong view of both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It’s that view which enables him to routinely re-examine himself while continuing to stand firm for things as important as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. New Mexico has a rich and diverse religious population. Native Pueblos, Roman Catholicism, Sikhs, Mainline Protestant Evangelicals, Buddhist etc. Nothing during his tenure as Governor indicates that he would appoint bad Justices or enact bad policy. Governor Johnson takes a solid stand for religious freedom. I take great encouragement that even when his positions are misunderstood he is honest and takes the high road. This was most recently demonstrated with what to me is one of the most astute balancing of Religious Freedom and Civil Liberties we have seen in decades: the ”Utah Compromise”. He also makes no apologies for the 2nd Amendment.
In other words, Johnson is a constitutionalist and a true civil libertarian. On the other hand, neither Trump nor Clinton can lay claim to such values and, as a result, Trump is promising favors to the Evangelical constituency—favors directed at us and at our politicking concerns. He misses the boat completely. For communities of faith, schools, think tanks, foundations, organizational clubs, charities and action committees across the country, the real solution lies in doing away with the IRS and the US Tax Code. Such an action would end the ability of the Government to profile and discriminate against a particular group applying for a particular tax status. It would also immediately put an end to the corrupt buying and selling of influence peddling.
The real issue before the Church is profound. The Evangelical Church rightfully fears coming restrictions that will jeopardize its tax exempt status. I know the Church is being scrutinized for the culture wars we’ve been waging all these years. Eliminating the IRS frees the American Evangelical Church from its dependence upon the Republican Party. The Church is finally being given the chance to choose between access to cheap political power, used to push a conservative cultural agenda, and the liberty to actually be the Church. To actually go out unfettered and by the free association that de Tocqueville wrote about, be that city on a hill. Remember, “Our [American] Founders, their rallying cry was Liberty—not social conservatism.” (Charismanews.com)
But Liberty over reliance upon the GOP requires asking what political favors are we willing to give up? Governor Gary Johnson is advocating for the abolishment of the IRS. He wants to implement an across-the board-consumption tax. Boom! Done! No more IRS, no more churches fearing the loss of their tax exempt status. To be sure, Johnson, as a Constitutionalist will appoint Supreme Court Justices in keeping with Original Constitutional intent and Jurisprudence. The Church can expect to be treated fairly, impartially. That means equal treatment under the law for all. In other words: no more political favors coming our way either.
4) “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe;” ~ Luke 11:21
Governors Johnson and Weld fully understand the need for a strong national defense as well as the threat of terrorism. They understand the distinction between Sharia, a political ideology incompatible with our Constitution, and being Muslim, which is protected by the Bill of Rights. Their determination to treat ISIS as an organized crime syndicate is intelligent, and Governor Weld has a successful track record shutting down such organizations.
“Something that no one in this presidential race is discussing is that Sharia law is politics. Everyone in this country supports freedom of religion, but Sharia law is politics. Sharia law is absolutely incompatible with the US Constitution — and that starts with women’s rights. We are clouding Sharia law with freedom of religion and we need to clearly separate the two. And we need to cut off funding to what is advancing Sharia.” (Governor Gary Johnson) I appreciate that the Governors also understand the concerns of Israel.
Furthermore, as a US Navy Veteran, I am glad that Governor Johnson understands the necessity of maintaining a fully funded, modern military for the defense of our Nation, our Interests and our Allies. Gov. Johnson stands firmly against Regime change and Nation building. He is a non-Isolationist, non-Interventionist. As such, I see him as the best candidate to keep members of our Armed Services ready at all times while limiting loss of life and limb. His is the Statesmanship and temperament I want to see in a Commander in Chief.
5) For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.
“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.” ~ Deut. 15:6-8
Governor Gary Johnson is the only candidate seriously attempting to address our $20 trillion dollar National debt. He recognizes this as a true threat to our National security. He takes this seriously and has an incredible fiscal track record to begin dealing with it. Johnson understands the economic importance of dismantling the IRS, of removing obstacles to small business, and of entrepreneurial economic growth through new industries like Hemp and Marijuana. He understands the significance of human creativity especially as we enter into a new era of goods and services being produced, delivered and driven via new platforms and technological innovation. Donald Trump does not.
Gov. Johnson is about recognizing the possibility of a sustainable energy market and a solvent economy. Trump is about shutting down the very things that drive the new transitions taking place in the technology sector. Gary Johnson is the Elon Musk, Tesla, Uber, Space-X and Blue Origin, high tech, high wage — future thinking, Silicon Valley, pro innovation candidate that the economy has been waiting for. Donald Trump is not.
My Christian ethos is not simply concerned that Donald Trump is a Crony Capitalist who has benefited greatly by loopholes and high powered relationships. As a border state governor, Gary Johnson understands, immigration issues and the importance of free trade and open borders. He reminds us of our human brotherhood with the Hispanic community and with the members of our own spiritual family. Many Hispanics are Catholic Christians and many are members of a variety of Protestant denominations too. Under a Trump presidency, families will be broken up and deported. Churches and communities will be torn apart. Aside from the inhumanity of such actions, this would have a significant economic impact across our country.
6) “For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” – Eccl. 7:12
Governor Johnson will move to abolish the Department of Education. It is failing our students and is a relative recent addition to the federal bureaucracy, going back to Jimmy Carter. Not back to Washington or even Lincoln. Governor Johnson has long been an advocate of school choice, school vouchers, home schooling and charter schools—in short, anything to stimulate educational competition and innovation. He is a charter school pioneer. His policies created merit based scholarship funding for New Mexico high school graduates to pursue college education. The scholarships are awarded based on high school grades, accomplishments and immediate enrollment in college following high school graduation. Scholarships are funded from state lottery revenues. Governor Johnson is fully aware of the problems public school children, private school kids, their families, home schooling parents and our educators are struggling with in their efforts to both educate and to exercise the free expression of their consciences while doing so.
7) Ecclesiastes 6:3-5/Exodus 21:22-25
Governor Johnson is not pro-life. But he is also not pro-death. Both Governors Johnson and Weld are pro-Choice but want a pro-life economy. This is another example of the many libertarian paradoxes. Or what I have come to know in my own experiences as the quest for the radical middle. It’s very clear that the two party narrative, and the binary choice of Right vs. Left can’t figure out the Libertarian paradox of being simultaneously Pro-Choice and Pro-Life. We often feel forced to live in an either/or world.This is not doublespeak. Pro-Birth is not the same as Pro-Life. Pro-Choice is not the same as Pro-Death. Gary Johnson has been consistent in his view of these issues for decades.
Governor Johnson is definitely not pro-death. He wants to end the criminalization of marijuana and end the catastrophic war on drugs. This war has devastated households and increased the desperation many women feel leading to increased Abortions. The human cost of the War on Drugs has far exceeded whatever gains it hoped to make. Governor Johnson has been a leader on this issue for decades. The war on drugs has become a culture war of death. It has ruined many lives across the entire social spectrum. A Grandmother 30 years ago fought for tough criminal sentencing on drug offenses never thinking it would lead to institutionalized racism. She also never thought that her grandchildren might lose their scholarships, jobs, their freedom and, in many cases, their lives as a result of our war on drugs. Governor Johnson has been a pioneer in changing how we think about marijuana and hemp. He fully grasps both the medical and industrial aspects of the marijuana and hemp industries. Governor Johnson is pro-living. pro-family and pro-child—from the parental consent laws he signed as Governor to the Salud! program he created as a safety net in New Mexico to ensure healthcare and human services for lower income families.
Why do I build a case for pro-life support of Governors Johnson and Weld? Because I know they’re not what the evangelical community has been conditioned to support. I know that this issue is so important to many in the Christian community that they simply will not vote for a pro-choice candidate. Johnson has taken some pro-life stances and I am taking the rest on faith. I will not make this a single issue presidency. I believe in the integrity and presence of character as found in both Governor Johnson and Governor Weld. I believe they will be better than either Clinton or Trump when it comes to both sides of this issue. I have met with both men. These are men we can respect. There is wisdom in their thoughts. Their human “energy” is clean. And, they are also better than Trump or Clinton when it comes to Planned Parenthood:
“I would prefer that the government not be in the healthcare care business. However, it is, and as much as 75% of the federal funding for Planned Parenthood comes in the form of providing services under Medicaid. Cutting off that funding from Planned Parenthood would simply result in it being directed elsewhere — to other providers of the same services, where available.
“Targeting Planned Parenthood for de-funding is a political ploy that yields the net effect of targeting a certain group of women by making it more difficult to access health care services—from cancer screening to prenatal care—for which they are otherwise eligible. As long as that is the case, I will not jump onto the de-funding political bandwagon. We can, and should, have a national discussion about the government’s role in funding health care. However, arbitrarily targeting Planned Parenthood without having the discussion and reforming Medicaid, along with other federal and state programs, is simply unfair and discriminatory. There would be no benefit to taxpayers, and only disruption of services to which women are today legally entitled.” (Gary Johnson, iSidewith.com)
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I think the best thing I can do is leave you with this: recent remarks by the governors at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington, DC. Give yourself an hour to sit thoughtfully and hear them speak. Talk to God as you watch it. I think you’ll hear that still small voice. There is a wisdom here. There is a maturity. There is truthfulness of character. That’s God. One thing I learned through the spiritual renewal poured out within our own recent memories and presumably still taking place in places like Bethel Church in Redding California: our experiences bore testimony to the truth that the presence of God was made known by the character of God.
Our experience in the Kingdom of God was based on God’s character. These men have godly characteristics of integrity, honesty, maturity and peaceful spirits. Gov. Gary Johnson can win. His character is already changing the nature of the race. Bill Weld’s too. These are mature men with a sense of humility and deep quiet strength. I want to inspire you: That is sufficient for me. God moves where his presence is and His presence is where His character is reflected.
There is a positive disruptive force working it way through this election. It is a genuine, viable, history making, anti-partisan choice. I am thankful for it. Whom do you wish to have our Nation align with in Federal headship? The spirit of Trump? Clinton? We do not have to vote the lesser of two evils this year. Remember the still small voice. It hasn’t been so easy for me to hear it lately with everybody in a continual uproar and state of agitation. As a chaplain volunteering with the campaign, I’m starting to hear it again. I encourage you to listen for it too. I’m not looking back. Just as in my spiritual race, I know I’ve got good reason to keep my eyes on the race set before me.
Good things are ahead of us!
In His grip,
Hood River. Oregon
Johnson/Weld Faith Coalition
This is NOT an official statement of the Johnson/Weld Campaign. This statement is my own Pastoral heart as a volunteer Chaplain. Find us on Facebook “Johnson/Weld Faith Coalition”. Help us in our efforts. Encourage others who feel trapped in a two party narrative that forces us to vote the lesser of two evils and not our consciences.