Friday, October 22, 2004


It has been hard to ignore the tone of the current presidential campaign. In many ways, this is not surprising, since the mudslinging seems to escalate with the office. However, as the debates have made clear, both candidates claim to be Christians. Does the profession to be a Christian affect the manner in which a candidate should run a campaign? Of course the question much be answered in the affirmative.

For any conservative, evangelical Christian, the inconsistencies in Senator Kerry's profession are glaring. The most recent edition of John Armstrong's Weekly Messenger has outlined many serious concerns for any Christian based on the Senator's record or practices. What is surprising, is compared to the President, Senator Kerry himself has run a halfway decent campaign.

For evangelicals, President Bush is a breath of fresh air after the former President whose moral laspses were so obvious and public. The President's profession of faith is reasonable, which seems rare in a politician; and his positions and record are consistent with such a profession. It is no wonder that evangelicals seem to have given an such enthusiastic and almost univocal support to the President. However, while I do not intend to deny the President's profession, or to belittle the important issues where he upholds the Biblical precepts; I question how his Christian profession effects his campaigning. Several issues have stood out to me in observing the campaign and in watching the debates. The first, and more concerning to me is the issue of honesty. For a Christian, a lie is not only defined by saying something that is untrue, but any speech that is not forthright and deceptive. While it is the hallmark of politicians to speak half-truths, a Christian politician ought to hold himself to a higher, to the Biblical standard. It is wrong for the President to misrepresent the Senator's voting record; it is dishonest to take the Senator's statements out of context in order to use against him. Discuss the central issues, and leave aside the deceptive rhetoric. It is not lying to be incorrect, but it is dishonest to continue to hold and to state those errors once they have been pointed out. Both candidates have been guilty of this, from Kerry's statement that the cost of the war is 80 billion more than it actually is; to the President's consistent claim that Senator Kerry has voted to raise taxes 97 times, when the actual number of votes is far less. Shouldn't the Christian candidate hold himself to a higher standard when it comes to accuracy and the truth? Second, the President's tone during the debates, particularly the first two, and on the campaigning trail are infamous. It was hard to miss the conclusion reached by many that the President is arrogant and impatient. Shouldn't a Christian candidate method of speech be characteristically distinct, shouldn't the Biblical admonition "Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone?" Finally, it is concerning to see how blind the President and other Christian to some vital moral concerns. For too many Christians, the moral issue which matter for this election revolve solely around abortion and homosexual marriage. This is concerning because other issues which should also be of concern are ignored. One does not have to spend much time reading the Old Testament prophets to see God's concern for the widows, the poor, the oppressed, society's "disenfranchised." However, where is the Christian concern over these issues? Isn't James clear, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress." Are these concerns to "Democratic" to merit attention; or are we at times distressingly indifferent in our generally affluent suburban environments, blind to the dire needs of others in the inner city or poor rural areas? A Christian cannot ignore moral issues which are directly under attack such as the sanctity of life or the purity of marriage; but a Christian must never lose sight of other vital moral issues he is called to defend just as vigorously. If a Christian is concerned to vote on Biblical principles, issues of social justice must also be considered.

I do not believe that the Christian has a clear cut choice in November, both candidates have areas which comport with a Christian profession, and both have serious shortcoming. As is so often the case, if one is going to make a choice between the two, some aspect of his faith will suffer in his vote.

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