It was November, 1976, and I was very excited by the election results. Our new president was a “born-again Christian”! Having become born-again myself at the age of 16 late in 1971, this was the first election where the religious beliefs of a candidate really caught my attention, and Jimmy Carter’s open Christian faith helped put the born-again term on the national map. Four years later, he was (quite literally) swept out of office by Ronald Reagan, the darling of the religious right.
Rev. Jerry Falwell, leader of the Moral Majority, which was founded in 1979, had famously declared, “We have a threefold primary responsibility. Number one, get people saved. Number two, get them baptized. Number three, get them registered to vote.” And although Reagan was not known as a deeply religious man, he was a strong conservative and a consistent opponent of abortion.
As one report observed, “For the Moral Majority, Ronald Reagan was a modern-day prophet whose rhetoric on family values, school choice, muscular patriotism and personal morality echoed their own view. Both Reagan and the Moral Majority saw American culture as a cesspool filled with sludge by ’60s-era hippies, immoral Hollywood directors, civil-rights radicals, abortion-loving feminists, the media and liberals.”
Eight years later, despite the many good intentions of the Moral Majority, despite the clear voice Reagan provided on a number of important moral issues (including abortion), and despite some of the very positive things Reagan accomplished (nationally and internationally), America was still stuck in a deep moral quagmire and the abortion industry continued almost unabated. In fact, according to the Alan Gutmacher Institute, there were at least 1.5 million abortions every year from 1980-1988, the years of the Reagan presidency, showing increase rather than decrease.
Of course, religious conservatives are not the only ones who have looked for a political savior. Need I mention our current president, he of the Greek pillars at the Democratic National Convention, treated like a rock star and hailed as “the one,” as if a quasi-Messianic figure? And need I mention the extreme hostility expressed towards President George W. Bush in the last years of his second term by those looking for “hope and change”? Now the Tea Party has risen up, angered over what they perceive is happening to America, grieved over what they claim is a systematic seizing of our liberties, and determined to see radical change come to our nation.
Not surprisingly, many Tea Party members, along with many other Republicans, are people of conservative Christian faith, and most of the Republican candidates campaigning for the presidency are known for their strong (and, it appears, genuine) faith. There is Rick Perry, who called for a prayer convocation attended by 30,000 before announcing his presidential bid. There is Michelle Bachman, who will now be joined on the campaign trail by her “personal pastor,” Mac Hammond. There is Herman Cain, who was recently quoted by the Christian Post as saying, “My faith plays a very big part in all the decisions that I make. . . . I’ve been involved with the church since I was young.” And always looming in the background is Sarah Palin, baptized in a lake in Alaska after getting saved at the age of 12. Perhaps one of these individuals will be our next political savior? Perhaps one of them will ascend to the presidency and bring about dramatic, national changes?
I would suggest we take a more pragmatic approach and not set ourselves up for disappointment yet again. First, the American political system is both complicated and convoluted, totally different than, say, ancient Israel where the right king could bring about national transformation, especially over the course of his lifelong reign. Here we have two major parties (at least), often at war with each other, often fighting for what is politically expedient rather than what is best for the country, sometimes internally divided as well. And then there is the ever-present “good old boy” syndrome, with its coalitions and deals and favors. We would be naïve to think that one charmed leader will be able to overcome all this in the short period of time he or she serves as president.
Second, America is a nation of more than 300 million people, and much of the change we need must be grassroots change, from the bottom up more than from the top down. In fact, it is hypocritical to criticize big government and its overreaching arm while at the same time looking to government to save us. Third, our presidents are not superheroes, and once we get past the political panegyric, we are reminded of their humanity.
We would do well, then, to remember the Paul’s exhortation to pray for our leaders (1 Tim 2:1-4), to vote or campaign for those we believe are best suited for the job (even with conviction and passion) without simplistically thinking that the next person we elect will somehow save our nation.
Can we hope for positive change? Absolutely. Can we expect national transformation? That will come from the nation (ultimately as people turn to the Lord) not just from the president.
Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com prior to the November election, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org.
The United States Congress was in a rare joint session. All 435 representatives and 100 senators were in attendance, and the C-SPAN-TV cameras were rolling. The members were gathered together to hear a speech by a descendant of George Washington. But what they thought would be a polite speech of patriotic historical reflections quickly turned into a televised tongue-lashing. With a wagging finger and stern looks, Washington’s seventh-generation grandson declared,
Woe to you, egotistical hypocrites! You are full of greed and self-indulgence. Everything you do is done for appearances: You make pompous speeches and grandstand before these TV cameras. You demand the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats wherever you go. You love to be greeted in your districts and have everyone call you “Senator” or “Congressman.” On the outside you appear to people as righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness! You say you want to clean up Washington, but as soon as you get here you become twice as much a son of hell as the one you replaced!
Woe to you, makers of the law, you hypocrites! You do not practice what you preach. You put heavy burdens on the citizens, but then opt out of your own laws!
Woe to you, federal fools! You take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but then you nullify the Constitution by confirming judges who make up their own laws.
Woe to you, blind hypocrites! You say that if you had lived in the days of the Founding Fathers, you never would have taken part with them in slavery. You say you never would have agreed that slaves were the property of their masters but would have insisted that they were human beings with unalienable rights. But you testify against yourselves because today you say that unborn children are the property of their mothers and have no rights at all! Upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed in this country. You snakes! You brood of vipers! You have left this great chamber desolate! How will you escape being condemned to hell!
Of course such an address never really took place. Who would be so blunt and rude to address the nation’s leaders that way? Certainly no one claiming to be a Christian. Are you sure?
Jesus said something very similar. What? Sweet and gentle Jesus? Absolutely. If you read the twenty-third chapter of Matthew you’ll see that much of my fictitious speech is adapted from the real speech Jesus made to the Pharisees. Contrary to the spineless Jesus invented today by those who want an excuse to be spineless themselves, the real Jesus taught with authority and did not tolerate error. When people were wrong, Jesus corrected them and sometimes he got in their faces to do so.
While Jesus was often more diplomatic, he knew that sometimes you need to be blunt with people. Sometimes you need to be direct instead of dancing around the issues. In fact, if you fail to be direct, you risk enabling people, allowing them to continue on their merry way, destroying themselves and the nation.
“Oh, but Jesus wouldn’t say that kind of thing to politicians,” you say. “He wouldn’t get involved in politics.”
Who were the Pharisees? They were not just the religious leaders but also the political leaders of Israel! You mean Jesus was involved in politics? Yes! Paul was too. He addressed the political leaders of his day and even used the privileges of his Roman citizenship to protect himself and advance the Gospel.
But didn’t Jesus say, “Give unto Caesar.” Yes. So what? We all ought to pay taxes. But that doesn’t mean we ought not get involved in politics. In our country, you can not only elect “Caesar,” you can be “Caesar!”
Jesus told us to be “salt” and “light,” and he didn’t say be salt and light in everything but politics. Christians are to be salt and light in everything they do, be it in their church, in their business, in their school, or in their government.
That doesn’t mean establishing a “Theocracy.” Christians should be great protectors of liberty, including freedom of (not from) religion. In fact, having Christians involved in government happens to be advantageous for even non-Christians. How so?
It is only the Christian worldview that secures the unalienable rights of the individual in God— rights that include the right to life, liberty, equal treatment, and religious freedom. Islam won’t do it. Islam means submission to Allah and Sharia law. It doesn’t protect individual rights. Neither will Hinduism (the Caste system) or outright secularism, which offers no means to ground rights in anything other than the whims of a dictator. Only Christianity grounds the rights of the individual in God, and also realizes that since God doesn’t force anyone to adhere to one set of religious beliefs, neither should the government.
I often hear Christians claiming that we ought to just “preach the Gospel” and not get involved in politics. This is not only a false dilemma; it’s stupid (how’s that for direct?). If you think “preaching the Gospel” is important like I do, then you ought to think that politics is important too. Why? Because politics and law affects your ability to preach the Gospel! If you don’t think so, go to some of the countries I’ve visited—Iran, Saudi Arabia, China. You can’t legally “preach the Gospel” in those countries—or practice other aspects of your religion freely—because politically they’ve ruled it out.
It’s already happening here. There are several examples where religious freedoms were usurped by homosexual orthodoxy. This summer a Christian student was removed from Eastern Michigan University’s (a public school) counseling program because, due to her religious convictions, she would not affirm homosexuality to potential clients. A Judge agreed (a similar case is pending in Georgia). In Massachusetts, Catholic charities closed their adoption agency rather than give children to homosexual couples as the state mandated. In Ohio, University of Toledo HR Director Crystal Dixon was fired for writing a letter to the editor in her local newspaper that disagreed with homosexual practice.
More violations of religious liberty are on the way from the people currently in charge. Lesbian activist Chai Feldbaum, who is a recess appointment by President Obama to the EEOC, recently said regarding the inevitable conflict between homosexuality and religious liberty, “I’m having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win.” So much for tolerance. The people who say they’re fighting for tolerance are the most intolerant, totalitarian people in politics.
Getting involved in politics is necessary if for no other reason to protect your religious liberty, and the liberties of us all. So if you’re a Christian, follow the example of Christ—call out hypocrites and fools, and vote them out on Tuesday!
Oh, I almost forgot. If you’re a pastor and you’re worried about your tax-exempt status, please remember two things: 1) you have more freedom than you think to speak on political and moral issues from the pulpit, and 2) more importantly, you’re called to be salt and light, not tax-exempt.
Police officers told an open-air preacher in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, it is a criminal offence to identify homosexuality as a sin. They said this to Andy Robertson, even though he had not mentioned homosexuality in his preaching.
He was recording his preaching because the local council had been making allegations about the content of his message. The conversation with police officers was caught on tape.
Editor’s Note: Originally published on TownHall.com, used with permission. Frank Turek is a speaker and author, and a leading Christian apologist. Learn more at his website www.CrossExamined.org
At least one lesbian is not happy with me for the case I made last week against same-sex marriage on our TV program. She wrote me this ALL CAPS e-mail with “VERY JUDGEMENTAL” in the subject line:
ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE ME AND I AM A CHRISTIAN LESBIAN AND HAVE BEEN FOR ALMOST 20 YEARS. STOP JUDGING AND MOVE ON!!! I AM SO TIRED OF ALL YOU UPTIGHT, DO RIGHT, SINNERS JUDGING PEOPLE.
I wrote her back asking her why she was judging me for judging. It seemed like a fair question. After all, if I am not to “judge” her, why is it OK for her to judge me? And if she’s a Christian, doesn’t she know that God has already judged homosexual behavior as immoral? I mean, I didn’t make the judgment that homosexual behavior was wrong. God is the standard of morality, not me.
But the main point is that my lesbian pen pal did what most liberals do when they are faced with arguments they don’t like—they misuse Jesus’ apparent command not to “judge” in order to shut you up. So if you oppose their behavior or their attempt to get the nation to endorse their immorality (i.e. same-sex marriage), you’re sure to hear “Thou shalt not judge!”
As with most slogans shouted by the left, the truth is exactly opposite to what they claim. Liberals take the judgment statements of Jesus out of context because they want to avoid any moral condemnation for their own actions, and they don’t want you to notice that they are making judgments too. Let’s take a look at what Jesus actually said:
Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Mt. 7:1-5)
Notice Jesus isn’t telling us not to judge—Jesus is telling us how to judge. He actually commands us to take the speck out of our brother’s eye—that involves making a judgment. But he also commands us to stop committing the bigger sins ourselves so we can better help our brother. In other words, when you judge, do so rightly not hypocritically.
Jesus expressed this same idea when he said “stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus would never tell us to stop judging– that would be suicide! Just think about how impossible life would be if you didn’t make judgments. You make hundreds, if not thousands, of judgments every day between good and evil, right and wrong, dangerous choices from safe ones. You’d be dead already if you didn’t make judgments.
What does this have to do with politics? Every law is a judgment about what’s best for society. Homosexual activists are making a judgment that same-sex marriage would be the best law for society. It’s a wrong judgment as I’ve argued in this column before (Gay Marriage: Even Liberals Know it’s Bad), but it’s a judgment nonetheless.
So in addition to being self-defeating, the belief that we “ought not judge” is completely impractical and even dangerous. Making judgments is unavoidable both personally and politically. If you want to meet a sudden and premature demise, just stop making judgments.
Unfortunately, liberals are propelling our society toward a premature demise by making the disastrous judgment that we ought not make judgments about their behavior. They, of course, can judge our behavior as immoral when we oppose same-sex marriage or the killing of the unborn. But we are not to judge their behavior. This is exactly the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus warned against. The passage they quote actually convicts them!
For folks so concerned about the “separation of church and state,” it’s amazing how fast liberals quote the Bible when they think it helps their case. Don’t let them get away with that. If they believe the Bible when they think it condemns judging (which it doesn’t), then ask them why they don’t believe the Bible when it certainly condemns homosexuality. If they want to use the Bible as their standard, then they will be judged by that same standard.