Mixing politics and religion – a question for the religious among you

Yes, I’m bringing up and mixing together the two most taboo subjects that are never to be spoken about in mixed company. The thing is, I have a question, an honest question, and I would like to hear honest responses from multiple viewpoints.

First, I’ll put my position right out in the open: I am not religious. I have many friends, close friends actually, who are. I love and respect them, but I do not share their religious beliefs.

So when it comes to politics, at least American politics and the upcoming election we have two weeks from today, the Facebook and Twitter posts have me thinking of something that seems to glaring.

The question I have is directed to the religious – mainly Christians, admittedly, as that is the dominant religion in my Facebook feed, but any other religious adherent reading this, or any atheist or agnostic that would like to respond, I’d love to hear your view as well.

How can you justify supporting a liar?

Now, I would like to go a bit deeper into that question, if you’ll allow.

We’ve had three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate in the final days of this election. I have seen many religious people posting things on Facebook such as “Obama just lied!” or “Romney told this many lies in 30 minutes!” And after each debate, fact-checkers come out and count up the lies on both sides.

So it seems to me that in either case, you, as a Christian, are choosing to support the candidate who tells 10 lies or the candidate who tells 30 lies.  But in the end, both have shown themselves to be dishonest.

What is striking to me, at least as an Alabama resident, is that periodically, our state legislature attempts to pass bills that would require the 10 Commandments to be posted on public property – schools, court houses, etc. And in this election, “10 Commandments Judge” Roy Moore is actually on the ballot, attempting to get back his job as Chief Justice after being removed for ethics violations – violating a federal judge’s order to remove a 10 Commandments monument.

Taking into account that one of those commandments says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor,” and we know “bearing false witness” to be lying, it leads me back to my original question: How can you justify supporting a liar?

(And I’ll go ahead and ask a follow-up question as I anticipate at least one person will bring up “voting for the lesser of two evils:” when did your Bible [or other holy books] ever justify voting for evil?)


37 thoughts on “Mixing politics and religion – a question for the religious among you

  1. That’s a really good point, Josh. I don’t really support either candidate, but I do have some similar viewpoints with both of them. However if you are going to vote for anyone in this election then you will be voting for a liar. Everyone lies. Are you suggesting not to vote?

    • I’m not advocating apathy. I think deciding whom to vote for is an important choice. I honestly wish more people would take the time to look at third party candidates as I feel the two-party system we’ve created (or “accepted” may be a better word) is not working. But at this point, I don’t think there are many people who are “undecided,” so trying to pick a candidate to endorse or deride is pretty pointless, but the aspect of lying, ethics and religion will still be an issue after Nov. 6.

  2. Josh you can look at it in one of two ways….1. Christians are hypocrites …which I hate to say in some areas we really are….or 2. Christians as God loves (supports) the sinner and not the sin. God knows that we are all sinners there are no perfect men yet He loves each sinner. God despises the sin in this case lying. So as a follower of God (Christ) we judge each person the same way…love the sinner and hate the sin….just my opinion….

    • I don’t see voting as a “love the sinner; hate the sin” scenario. I think voting is more of an endorsement, so in this case, it seems as if people are endorsing the sinner and the sin together.

  3. it’s long been my opinion that a thinking person would leave religion out of his or her political choices. would you choose a plummer based on the fact that he claims to share your faith? i myself would not, forgetting the fact that finding a pagan plumber in Alabama would be like…well, i’m sure there’s a proverb.

    • I’ve seen a local plumbing company that has a Christian fish symbol on their trucks, so I can only assume that some people do pick companies that way. However, while we don’t have a religious test for public office, would someone with a strong belief about Armageddon and the “End Times” get your vote to have a finger on the nuclear button? Would it be valid to ask such questions about their beliefs in such a case or is it all off-limits?

      • oddly, those trucks are exactly what inspired the comment. i meant that in the case of plumber or president, i am more persuaded by a record of positive performance. while i would agree that judging a plumbers performance is more empirical than that of a politician, a claim of faith doesn’t imply that one is qualified to do anything, in my opinion.

  4. This one is easy. A true Christian, following Jesus’s teachings to the letter, knows that it is not our place to decide who has lied, or sinned, as we are all equal in God’s eyes. Judgement is reserved for God alone. So, what they should really be looking at is who serves the god they prescribe to most faithfully. What troubles me is when they say things like “if we vote for ___________, God, won’t be able to bless our country. I hear this constantly. That candidate won’t stand up for Israel, and Israel is God’s nation, so God will turn against us. Ok, first, you’re already limiting an all powerful being to the whims of his creation. I don’t believe that’s Biblical. God stopped wiping out whole peoples in the Old Testament (of course when you consider God is an eternal being, it’s hard to justify his “genocidal phase”), and now thanks to Jesus, we have a new covenant, which essentially allows you to accept your sinful ways and live with them, as long as you feel really bad about it once a week.

  5. My problem is voting for a Mormon . I try to respect others beliefs , but Mormons ?? I have known a couple and they were all very pleasant people , but what they believe is a bit crazier than what the average Christian believes . To honestly believe that Joseph Smith read golden tablets out of his hat and that Jesus was in America is just a bit to much crazy for me . We won’t even talk about the racism of that religion when it started . Wow !

    You brought up both candidates being liars . I agree that is a sin that should not be over looked . Lets not overlook this
    Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

    How much money do these candidates make in a year ?

    • The Mormon church’s position on race didn’t change until the late 1970s, which means that Romney was an adult very active in his church at the time. Would questioning that be off limits in a political discussion because it’s based on religion?

  6. ok, someone has now said Mormon. this is a little bit off topic, but i have been somewhat taken aback by how accepting mainstream America has been of a Mormon candidate. from the point of view of someone who is neither Christian nor Mormon and therefore qualified to do a strict A B comparison, there are a few very notable differences. here is one of them. Mormons do not believe in the Holy Trinity, so in essence, they believe the 3 to be separate entities. beyond that, they believe that when the faithful pass into the celestial realm, they are then granted a planet to be the God of. this would lead me to postulate that Mormons believe in a potentially infinite number of Gods. is it just me, or this starting to sound like polytheism?

  7. There are many points of discussion at play here. The acceptance of 3rd (or 4th) party candidates will not refute the point raised by Jeremy that “everyone lies”.

    I also appreciate Billy’s point about reserving judgment (to God, karma, or whatever your belief system allows). Trustworthiness, no doubt, is a characteristic we need in elected officials. But is a lie alone enough to dissuade you from a candidate? Does it matter that a fact checker has said a statement was “pants on fire” vs. another that is “1 Pinocchio”? Is 1 lie the limit? 10? 100?

    Voting, like most things, should be the result of careful reflection of the totality of circumstances. For President, IMHO, a supporting vote should be predicated upon the candidate’s philosophy of government’s role in protecting of the general welfare of our citizens (that’s admittedly a broad category). For Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, it would stand to reason that a voter should be more concerned about the candidate’s adherence to the law than his Bible. Of course, it is important to understand what the role a particular office plays or duties it carries. (No, Twinkle, the President of the Public Service Commission does not create “jobs jobs jobs.”)

    Shouldn’t the larger question be: what role does religion have in politics, in general? Can we not point to religion as the source of impediment to progress here and abroad? Would we be a more peaceful nation if we depended on other sources for our beliefs/policies? Even if that source is simply the common ground most religions/dogmas/life philosophies uphold?

  8. If it’s a job where morality will play a part in decision making, I vote for the person I think has the strongest sense of morality. Morality has little to do with religion. I am very religious. I am not always very moral. Many who are anti-religious would argue that plenty of people who share my faith are immoral because of their views on sexuality, equality, etc. I know plenty of non-religious people who I think possess great morality. In the end, I want someone who can make hard decisions and stand by them.

    When I was younger (I’m 36) I voted for people who supported my viewpoint and only my viewpoint. I also vowed to never be a single-issue voter (i. e. abortion). Now I feel it’s more important to vote for someone who will make decisions for the good of the country. At heart I’m a libertarian but I do not believe that the person in the office is just a puppet of the people.

    (I’m voting for Gary Johnson, FWIW)

    • Thanks for the link. This paragraph stands out to me:

      “Third, a functional approach to voting does not mean we can ignore matters of character and morality in favor of candidates who promise to “git ‘er done.” If a candidate is corrupt or untrustworthy, if his moral compass is always spinning and his grasp of right and wrong is slippery, we should have little confidence in his ability to govern wisely or seek the common good.”

      I know it’s not your name as the author of the article, but would you consider a candidate to have a “moral compass always spinning” if he has been shown to hold both sides of multiple issues?

      • It really does depend on the issue and on the context. I think there is an acceptable amount of change on a given issue than can happen. I mean, I’ve changed my mind on political issues before, and I’m sure politicians can honestly do the same. Still, it’d have to be more specific than that. I think we also have to consider whether the alternative is consistently wrong on the issues.

  9. I don’t know if it was your intention, but this blog overlooks the 800lb Gorilla in the room.The questions should be “why do Americans allow politicians to lie with impunity?” and ” when the hell are we going to send a clear message that it will no longer be tolerated?”.
    Why would it be okay for anyone, Christian or otherwise, to vote for a liar? I am not religious, and I don’t need to be to know that lying is wrong. Everyone has an agenda and just about everyone turns a blind eye to anything that they perceive as being in the way of it.
    Christians are hating on gays, gays are hating on a chicken joint, whites hating blacks, and blacks hating whites, and everyone hates those job stealing Mexicans, right along with those suicide bombing Muslims .
    Americans have become so caught up in taking sides in social issues, that they have forgotten to mind the shop. Politicians, cunning fucks that they are, have not. Divide et impera is the strategy they use, and it works because all Americans allow it to, not just Christians.
    I don’t care how many lies the candidates tell. That is biz as usual from either camp. The question I ask myself is, if I have to get raped, do II want to be raped a little, or a lot. I will be going with the guy that hurts my wallet the least, because just like everyone else, I have an agenda.

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