Faith

Christian Candidates: Vote for Me, God’s on My Side!

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Are Christian candidates for political office doing the church a disservice by promoting their faith on the campaign trail?

With South Carolina’s primaries behind us, I’ve already seen political commercials from candidates that touted, among other things, their deep Christian faith.

One candidate ran a commercial about being an attorney (I think), who then “sacrificed” his career to go into ministry.

Every time I heard the commercial, I thought to myself, if he’s lamenting the loss of his career to answer a calling, was he what the Bible might call a “cheerful giver?”

Maybe he didn’t mean it that way, but when you try to sell me on your “sacrifice” rather than on the positives you received from having made the change, then I begin to get a bit suspicious.

Years ago, when I attended a Baptist church in Columbia, there was one Sunday just a few weeks before Election Day when the church had a special visitor: this man was presented to us as a longtime member of the church who just happened to be running for governor.

I’d been going to the church for nearly six months and I knew this man on sight: he hadn’t been there one time prior to being introduced on the pulpit that one Sunday. If that wasn’t bad enough — and it was — after the service, this man stood out front at the top of the church steps, right alongside the pastor, greeting the worshippers as they left.

That was the day I started looking for another church.

In the meantime, just as I expected, after that one appearance, I never saw that particular candidate set foot in there again after that one Sunday of campaigning.

The pastor should never have allowed such a show to happen. But the candidate shouldn’t have tried to use church as an opportunity to get elected, either.

If becoming a Christian made someone perfect and eliminated the ability for wrongdoing, I’d be a lot more impressed.

I’d love to be able to tell you that once you become a Christian, you are impervious to those foibles and pitfalls that most Christians might hope you’d think only affect non-believers.

But I’d be lying.

If anything, Christians might have an advantage in dealing with them as they come, and might have an advantage when it comes to dodging those challenges.

But Christians are just as capable of failing as non-Christians.

So what am I supposed to believe — pardon the expression — when a candidate assures me he’s a Christian?

That he’s perfect? Sorry.

That he has a corner of the market on morality? Not on your life.

That he and I will always agree because I’m a Christian, too? I can’t even give him that one. For every issue that you can think of, you’ll find a variety of viewpoints from the Christian community.

Look at how many Christian denominations there are: they’re all based on the same book, but look at how differently they believe and act out their faith.

And I hope it goes without saying that just because a candidate says he’s a Christian, I’m not about to just blindly accept that statement. Where’s the proof?

Don’t tell me what a great Christian you are: show me.

I should be clear on one major point: I’m not saying that I think there aren’t genuine Christians who choose to run for office, or that those who market themselves as Christians aren’t genuinely devoted to their faith.

It’s just that I don’t automatically side with the Christian candidate because he says he’s a Christian. I’d rather consider the whole picture and first decide whether his idea of being a Christian is close enough to mine that I’d feel I could anticipate how he’d handle issues that often have nothing to do with being a Christian.

You Tell Me:

Does a candidate marketing his faith make you more or less likely to want them in office?

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.