Evangelicals and the Election, Part 1 of 3
Today, I will list the legitimate and illegitimate reasons why Evangelical Christians can vote for John McCain. Next, I’ll list the same for Barack Obama. With the third post, I will make the case that, no matter who is voted into office on November 4, Christians must unite behind our new president and prayerfully move forward as we deal with the major issues and crises that currently face our nation.
In spite of what many Bible-believing Christians think (see James Dobson a year ago when he said, “I would not vote for John McCain under any circumstances” and the rhetoric of many “progressives” in the evangelical camp), the election of John McCain will not be the worst possible result of this election. There are several legitimate reasons why evangelicals could or even should vote for John McCain:
1. Consistently Pro-Life.
In the 2000 campaign, I stopped supporting National Right to Life because they were sending me information saying that the only pro-life candidate to vote for was George Bush. The truth was that they were not supporting McCain because of his campaign finance reform agenda that would have put them out of business. McCain has consistently voted as a senator for pro-life bills.
2. Supreme Court.
The next president will most likely appoint one, and perhaps even two, justices to the Supreme Court. Even though McCain says that he will not have a litmus test for justices, everyone believes that his appointments would be pro-life, and that this would mean that Roe v. Wade would be overturned.
3. Limited Government.
A Christian concept of government states that it must be limited. McCain is correct that government is not supposed to be the central aspect of public life. There are other authorities, such as churches, parents, associations, businesses, organizations, and individuals, that have an authority that is not derived from government, and therefore cannot be replaced by governmental fiat. As Paul Marshall writes, "The authority of the government ends where the authorities of others begin…We can say that the governing authority is justly to interrelate the authorities—the areas of responsibility—of others. It is not to supplant other authorities in their roles." In society, there are diverse offices with diverse responsibilities that possess their own authority. And government must not encroach upon those areas of responsibility.
4. McCain has opposed Bush on several issues.
While McCain is aligned with Bush on two key issues in this election (taxes and the war in Iraq), he has taken stands contrary to the Bush administration. He has been a vocal critic of how Bush has actually conducted the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very importantly, McCain has been a major critic of the Bush administration’s use of torture. Also, McCain differs with Bush about climate change, saying “We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great.”
If you are going to cast your vote for McCain based on some of these reasons, then I think that it is a legitimately thoughtful Christian vote. However, there are a number of illegitimate reasons I’ve heard evangelicals use for why we should vote for McCain. Here are reasons that SHOULD NOT be used to vote for McCain:
1. Obama is a secret Muslim.
Our church just had Missions week, with missionaries sharing their stories in adult Sunday classes. In our class, we had four missionaries that specialized in reaching Muslims. In the midst of a good question and answer session, one guy asked a question that made me fume. “In your opinion, is Barack Obama a Christian or a Muslim?” My wife grabbed my hand and said, “Robert… Settle down.” I later raised my hand and asked, “In your opinion, is John McCain a Christian or an adulterer who divorced his wife for a wealthy beer distributor?” It was a joke. And yes, people laughed (while some looked at me strangely). It is strange that McCain’s credentials as a believer are never questioned even though he does not make his faith a major part of his identity, while Obama’s Christian faith is held in great incredulity because he is a democrat. I find it remarkable that in spite of Obama’s eloquent statements of his faith at a ground-breaking speech in 2006 and in his answers to Rick Warren at the Saddleback Forum (where he said, “Jesus Christ died for my sins...I am redeemed through Him”), evangelicals simply will not accept him as a true believer.
2. Obama pals around with terrorists.
He does not. He has not. Citing a New York Times article on Bill Ayers and his acquaintance with Barack Obama, Sarah Palin said, “Our opponents see America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists who would bomb their own country.” In fact, the very newspaper article that Palin cited made it clear that Sen. Obama is not close to Bill Ayers, much less “pals.” The Times article says, “The two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers, whom he has called ‘somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8.’” The intention of this campaign tactic is the paint Obama as a covert radical. Notice that Palin said "terroristS" (plural), and that the campaign has been asking, “Who is the real Barack Obama?” Christians must not be snookered by emails they receive claiming that Obama is some detestable threat to the country. He is not. McCain himself has recently refuted those at his rallies that are “scared” of Obama.
3. McCain picked a Christian as his running mate.
The fact that Palin has confessed faith in Jesus Christ does not mean that she would be a good Vice President or President. George Bush was very vocal about his Christian faith, and his presidency was a disaster in many ways, including misleading the American public by manipulating the intelligence to drum up support for the war in Iraq and then, astonishingly, the most despicable and immoral of things – endorsing the use of torture. Just because a person says he or she is a Christian does not necessarily mean that he or she will be a good leader. I’ve even known pastors that have been bad leaders, and even scoundrels (and so have you).
Yes, there are good reasons to vote for John McCain. If you are in the McCain camp, good. However, know that there are also good reasons to vote for Barack Obama. That is next.
Read all three part of this series:
Part 1: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for MCCAIN
Part 2: Reasons Why Evangelicals Should Vote for OBAMA
Part 3: McCain or Obama ? - A Plea for Unity