Thoughts on the Upcoming Elections
By Dr. Timothy George,
Chairman of the Board, Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
Earlier this year, in the midst of the presidential primary season, I was asked to address a group of Southern Baptist pastors on the question of Christian faith and political engagement. Though no one knew for sure who the candidates would be at that time, the first question I was asked was, “How should an evangelical Christian decide who to support in this election?” That was a legitimate question, and has prompted me to think of some wider implications.
1) We should be grateful to live in a representative democracy where the right to vote and the rule of law are respected. Such has not always been the case, even in our own country, as the history of slavery, women’s suffrage, and the struggle for civil rights indicates. Freedom is ever under assault from without and within. Religious liberty and political responsibility are closely related: If we default on the latter, we may well forfeit the former. Vote!
2) The American republic was founded on a clear distinction between church and state, as the First Amendment shows, but this has never meant the separation of faith from public life. What we believe about ultimate matters has a direct bearing on how we deal with issues of everyday life. What is a human being? How do we foster a society where justice prevails? How do we construct “a more perfect union” for the common good? These are profoundly moral and spiritual questions, as well as political ones. While IRS regulations forbid pastors and religious leaders from endorsing particular candidates (a rule that should be reversed in the interest of free speech), there is no prohibition against addressing the great moral issues of our time, all of which have political implications. Michelle Obama was completely correct in her remark at the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s General Conference in June. She claimed that “there is no better place than church” to talk about political issues because they are ultimately moral issues. Distinguish!