Christian leaders around the United States continue to invest large amounts of time in the political process. I think it is safe to say that a large amount of disagreement exists over who to support, which platform is most aligned with a Christian message, and what role faith leaders should have (if any) in the political process.
A cursory look at the political process has shown prominent Southern Baptist pastors like Pastor Robert Jeffress (First Baptist Dallas) and Jerry Falwell Jr. (President of Liberty University) coming out in support of Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Lutheran pastors from the ELCA joined together on Monday, March 14th, in singing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in a peaceful protest at a Donald Trump Rally at Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, NC, before holding a Service of Healing at the school. Although many continue to support a Trump presidency amidst the wave of protests in Chicago and Tampa, NC ELCA Bishop Timothy Smith joined other pastors at the Lenoir-Rhyne protest in solidarity with refugees and other marginalized groups. His public Facebook post dated 3/11/16 at 4:30pm included the words:
“This is not who we are, America. This is not who we are, North Carolina. This is not who we are, Church.”
Looking at North Carolina’s voting record and current poll numbers, it remains to be seen what impact Christians (conservative, moderate, and liberal among others) will have on the primaries of both the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. I continue to remain concerned with the passion we as Christians are showing for politics, while not matching that passion in our love for our neighbor both locally and globally. Whether you find yourself reading an article by Pastor Max Lucado about decency and the presidency, wrestling with how to align your faith with the views of Secretary Hillary Clinton, or thinking through income inequality as a group of pastors in Philadelphia recently did, I think there are some questions we all need to ask as we think about this election, the role of Christians, and what a path forward looks like:
10 Questions All Christians Should Ask Before Speaking About Politics
1. Do those who know you see evidence that you care more about loving your neighbor and sharing the Gospel message than you do about winning a political argument?
2. When is the last time you stopped and prayed for the candidates and their teams on either side?
3. What impact does your faith have on how you vote? Or what impact will it have? (I’m not making an argument here for what impact your faith should have, but asking if you have honestly reflected on how your faith impacts or doesn’t impact your voting.)
4. Does your distaste for any certain presidential candidate exceed your distaste for your own sin?
5. How often do you actively listen to people with other political viewpoints without trying to “get your point across”?
6. What does it mean to love your neighbor during a political election year? At a political event? While meeting with your church? While at a family event?
7. What impact would the church have on the world in 4, 8, or 12 years if it lived out what Jesus, Paul, and others preached? What if it doesn’t?
8. How much time do you spend catching up on the latest political commentary and news? How does this compare to the time you spend reading the Bible, serving others, or in prayer?
9. How many close friends do you have that vote opposite of you? What’s driving this?
10. In what ways have you placed too much hope in a particular candidate, election, or current political office holder? What would it look like for you to place more hope in your Creator than a human politician?
As you look over these questions, my hope is that you will seriously consider not only the impact of faith on the political process, but also the impact of the political process on your faith. None of us has it all figured out and we will all need one another to grow and learn. Make sure that this year you think about the implications of your faith and political persuasions on your beliefs, your decisions, your work, and your family.
(Disclaimer: This post is not meant as an endorsement or critique of any particular candidate or political party. My intention is to reflect on the intersection of faith and politics by describing recent events and sharing some tough questions I’ve been asking myself throughout the election process.)