Posted in A to Z Blogging, Dave Handles the Tough Issues, Political, Writers

The Politics of Christianity

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Dave Handles the Tough Issues

The other day I overheard my wife Amy ask the following question:

“How come all the people I know who are protesting the stay at home order are Christians and the people I know who are defending the order are not?”

It is a great question, one that she’s going to ask our small group leader when we meet next. It got me thinking not only about that question but about some broader questions that her question made me ponder. One of these was: Is american evangelicalism becoming more about politics and less about following Christ?

Wikipeidia defines Evangelicalism as

Evangelicalism (/ˌiːvænˈdʒɛlɪkəlɪzəm, ˌɛvæn-, -ən/), evangelical Christianity, or evangelical Protestantism, is a worldwide, trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus’s atonement.] Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the conversion or “born again” experience in receiving salvation, in the authority of the Bible as God‘s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

Wikipedia

That simply is what I mean when I say that I am a Christian. I’ve been saved by God through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, I believe the Bible is the Word of God and I believe that I am called to share this good news to all. “Christian” may mean other things to other people, but this is what I mean by it. Also, since we are doing definitions, when I say “Church” I mean the world wide group of Christians per the above definition.

My concern is that evangelicalism at least in America seems to be adding to the Wikipedia definition. Which leads us back to Amy’s question. Why was all the support she was seeing for the stay at home order coming from those who believed differently than she does and everything she was seeing in opposition to the stay at home order coming from “like minded” believers.

Now it doesn’t surprise me that there is a political divide in this country about the response to the corona virus. There seems to be a political divide in this country about everything these days. We all seem to have been transported into a Seussian childrens’ book entitled “Red State, Blue State.” I get that. What I don’t get is that the evangelical church seems to have picked sides.

I remember 30 to 40 years ago when the republican party was courting the evangelical vote, but since then it seems like they’ve got engaged to it. Why is the church getting engaged to the republican party when we are supposed to be the Bride of Christ?

My political beliefs tend to originate from my Christian faith. A better way to say that is my faith informs my political preferences. I do vote republican much of the time, but there have been many instances where my faith has informed me the better candidate was not riding on the elephant. I have received much grief, even ridicule over the years for this practice. Some people it seems, have their political preference inform their faith. A few years ago a young man who had just moved to our near Chicago suburb from downstate Illinois visited our youth group. While introducing himself he said something to the effect of “Of course I’m a Christian I’m a Republican.”

Over the years I have seen a growing tendency to think the exact thing. This kind of thinking has had many evangelical leaders promote Republican dogma like it’s a tenet of the Christian faith. One of my heroes, the late Billy Graham, has 3 very instructive quotes regarding the mix of politics and religion.

…  it would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.

Billy Graham – Parade Magazine 1981


“I’m just going to preach the gospel and am not going to get off on all these hot-button issues. If I get on these other subjects, it divides the audience on an issue that is not the issue I’m promoting. I’m just promoting the gospel.”

Billy Graham 2005 – quoted in What Billy Graham taught us about a healthy relationship between religion and politics – Deseret News 2/21/2018

“I’m trying to stay out of it and just keep preaching the gospel, because there’s nothing coming out of Washington or any of those places that are going to save the world or transform men and women. It’s Christ,”

Billy Graham 1987 – quoted in What Billy Graham taught us about a healthy relationship between religion and politics – Deseret News 2/21/2018

I think that Graham’s quotes are even more instructive when you consider in his lifetime he met and prayed with every president from Truman to Obama.

Unfortunately not everyone agrees with Graham on this. I have been embarrassed and outraged by how unchristian much of the political rehtoric I see by fellow believers. Our President had his share of rants during the early days of his daily co-vid briefings. On at least 2 occasions he went off on journalists who were asking valid questions. In both cases, I saw on Facebook people I respected saying the reporters deserved those attacks and not one apology for our President’s behavior. One person referred to one rant as one of the best things he ever heard him say. The main gist of the commentary was that the left deserved everything the President was doling out.

As a Christian I believe that the only thing I deserve is a Christless eternity as a result of my own sins. I also beleieve that my salvation comes from God through Christ and is taught in the Bible. Nothing else is needed. When evangelicals defend unchristian behavior because they like the politics behind it they are not showing an understanding of Christ’s redemptive love to a watching world.

I am very passionate about political involvement. I have written many blog posts, letters to the editor and letters to my elected officials regarding my beliefs. I have had many politically charged conversations and firmly believe that I have a duty and a responibility to share my convictions with my representatives.

Another passion I have is my passion to shower the world with the love of Christ. If I had to choose between passions I hope I’d choose the passion mandated in the Bible. Jesus states this passion very succinctly in the book of John …

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:12-13

As I come to an end of my thoughts about Christianity and politics, I will try to circle back and answer my wife’s question. The Christian response to the Covid 19 situation, or any situation for that matter, should be the response that speaks in the economy of God rather than man. Man’s economy may be all about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. God’s economy is about experiencing Christ’s love, sharing that love and putting others needs ahead of your own.

Posted in Political, prolife

President Trump can only have it both ways when people let him

Before I get to the heart of my post, I want to clarify some of my positions on things from the outset. I am a conservative pro-life Christian who has predominantly voted for Republican candidates for 35 years. Also, I think that Donald Trump is by far the worse President this country has ever had.

There are many people who agree with my conservative beliefs and there are certainly many who agree with my estimation of our current President. However, the amount of people who meet in the center of that particular Venn Diagram is much much smaller than those in one end or the other,

For some reason this still surprises me. The reasons why I feel like I do about President Trump are too many to go into in one blog post. However all of them to me are very logical and in my mind should make sense to just about anyone. Almost all of my objections come down to his character and his seeming lack of any virtuous attributes.

In short, I have never been able to trust the man and anything he says or does is very easy for me to see the falsehood, hypocrisy or manipulative attempt in.

Last week John Dean , who was White House Counsel under Nixon, testified before Congress comparing The Mueller report to the Watergate hearings which eventually led to multiple criminal convictions including his own and Nixon’s resignation.

Trump’s “substantive” response when asked about Dean, while celebrating with the Indy 500 winner at the White House, was that “John Dean has been a loser for many years,” he then continued to say “he’s been a loser for a long time. He went to prison, he was disbarred but besides that he’s a great guy.”

He doesn’t even address the question, just dismisses Dean as a loser because he’s a disbarred felon.

I found it very easy to see inconsistencies in Trump’s comment. I immediately thought of Charles Colson, who like John Dean, was heavily involved in the Watergate scandal. Colson has long been one of my heroes. He had a conversion to Christianity in Prison. After his release from prison, he started an organization called Prison Fellowship that has had profound impact on prisons and society at large world wide. Colson died in 2012 and was revered in the evangelical community that has been so supportive of Trunp.

After I heard Trump’s Dean quote, I googled “Trump praises Colson” and found a transcript from the a speech Trump made at the National Day of Prayer earlier this spring. In the speech, Trump praises Colson and the work he did for Prison Fellowship.

So I was thinking, why didn’t Trump just say, “Colson was a loser for a long time, he went to prison, he was disbarred, but besides that he was a great guy?”

The answer is obvious, Dean gave an unfavoeable opinion of the President. Many of Colson’s followers support Trump , so there was no need to dismiss him. The truth is that Colson and Dean both went to prison and were both disbarred. If we take Trump at his word that Dean is a loser because he went to prison , then shouldn’t Colson be one as well? And for that matter shouldn’t Prison Fellowship just be called loser fellowship? Why would Trump support a group that only helps losers?

By characterizing Dean as a loser, Trump is able to dodge legitimate questions about what Dean said. We should not let him do that. Trump’s inconsistency cannot be ignored. He needs to be held accountable for his comments and his actions. As I used to say, if someone is off base, we need to tag them out. Trump has been hovering between first and second base since he announced his candidacy and very few seem willing to do anything about it.

But what can we do about it? First of all, we should always seek the truth in a matter. If someone says something , we should check it out. We need to develop discernment. We need to operate between the extremes of accepting and believing everything we hear and accepting and believing nothing we hear. We also need to be far less partisan about things. I often challenge Trump supporters who attempt to defend any of his undefendable behaviors by asking how they would feel about that behavior if it was done by a Democrat or if Trump himself was a Democrat. If I ever get a reasonable response I’ll let you know.

He’s doing better than Hilary would have is not a defense. The economy is good is not a defense. He’s putting in the right kind of Supreme Court Justices is not a defense. Neither Trump nor any politician should be given a free pass especially by his own party when being inconsistent in their responses. Most of us feel we deserve better representatives but I’m not sure that we expect better or do much to insure better. Holding our politicians responsible for what they say and do is a needed step in that direction.

Posted in Political, YBD

What Republicans need to know if they want my vote in November

Six Word Saturday

My Six:

I’ll never vote for Donald Trump.

Let me bullet point it for you.

  •  Back in August of last year I ranked the 17 republican candidates for president. the Donald came in 17th.  
  • The only reason why he comes in 6th now is that 11 of the candidates have since dropped out of the race.One of the 16 other candidates was a pro choice republican.  I am on the record of stating that I would never again vote for a pro-choice republican.  I would be hundreds of times more likely to vote for that candidate than Trump
  • I don’t hate Trump.  I just don’t trust him.
  • I don’t trust anyones whose go to answer is I’ll be great at it.
  • I don’t hate Trump.  I just don’t respect him.
  • I cant respect anyone whose answer to those who disagree with him is to deride them.
  • I get very upset when any of the other candidates when trying to frame the discussion back to Republican versus Democrat state that any republican candidate would be better than Obama, Sanders or Clinton.
  • It only takes watching 1 debate (and I have watched all but 1 of them) to see that Trump does not have the character to lead this country.
  • When he is booed which is often. He assumes  The people booing are wrong.
  • In the last debate he took a pot shot at Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina who had been out of the race for some time.  When booed he attributed it to donors who back Jeb Bush.  The truth is he was attacking Graham in a debate in South Carolina, a week before the primary there.  
  • I feel there are many people like me who will never vote for Trump.  
  • But I am afraid there are more people who are willing to go along with who ever secures the nomination.
  • I will not be among them.

For more six word saturday click here.

Also posted at HSD #YBD=HSD

Posted in Political, prolife, YBD

That Ship has sailed.

A month ago or so, I was listening to talk radio on the way home from work.  When I got home, I decided to call the host and discuss some issues.  We talked a few minutes about various topics of the day and then started discussing the abortion views of one the senators from Illinois, where we both live.  This particular senator is pro-choice.  While listening to the radio station that day, there had been a commercial about pro-life listeners contacting that Senator  and telling them how concerned they were about the environment.  It was kind if a strange commercial, as I asked the host, if pro lifers were going to contact the Senator wouldn’t they do so to ask him to change his pro choice views instead of asking about the environment?  The host wasn’t sure exactly about the wording of the commercial but about discussing the abortion issue with the senator, stated “That ship has sailed,” which I took to mean that the host had had numerous conversations with the Senator and that his pro choice views were rather ingrained.

I hadn’t thought about that exchange since the evening it occurred until earlier today.  When I did think of it the phrase “That ship has sailed” really stuck in my mind.  I believe that abortion ends a human life. .  When I speak out against abortion, sometimes people treat the issue as it was resolved by Roe vs. Wade.  That ship  has sailed, is what they are saying.  Laws can be changed.  The people who wanted legal abortions in the U.S. didn’t say that ship has sailed.  They kept fighting until they got their way.  People who agree with me that ending pregnancies prematurely should be stopped, need to continue to rally around the sanctity and dignity of the human life.  The ship may indeed have sailed, but a ship heading in the wrong direction should always be convinced to alter it’s course.

Love,

Dave.

Posted in Political, YBD

Possible Republican Vice Presidential Data

The 3rd republican debates are tonight.  There are still so many candidates that there are 2 debates.  There are 10 candidates in the main debate,  4 in the debate that precedes it and 1 candidate, Jim Gilmore who has not been in a debate since August.

I have been following these debates and the events leading up to them for some time now.  Last week the DesMoines register/Bloomberg poll  came out for Iowa.  I reviewed the data from the poll and am using that data to reflect if any of the 15 candidates currently running might appeal as possible VP contenders in 2016 if they do not get the nomination for the top spot.  Here’s what I think.

There were several questions on the poll regarding favor-ability issues such as who would you never support or name up to 3 candidates who you want to drop out of the race.  I have decided that anyone who was in the top 5 in any of those lists would probably not make an attractive VP option because if prospective voters want him or her out of the race now they won’t want that person to be just a heartbeat away from the presidency.

The 7 candidates with top marks at being unfavorable or unwanted are Lindsey Graham, George Pataki, Jim Gilmore, Chris Christie,  Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, and Donald Trump.  That list may be a little surprising since Trump came in 2nd in the poll for who people would choose as President with 19% and Bush and Paul picked up 5% of support each tying them for 5th.  The problem is that more people wanted those 7 to drop out than those picking them first.  Heres a quick snap shot

Candidate (% picked 1st/% wants to drop out)
Trump (19/25)
Bush  (5/22)
Paul (5/14)
Christie (1/19)
Gilmore (0/15)
Pataki (0/21)
Graham  (0/22)

The second thing I tried to do was to look at who people were willing to support as President even if they were not currently choosing them first or second.  This poll made it easy for me, as respondents were asked to mark if they could ever vote for candidate and were told not to choose anyone they had previously picked as their first or second choice.  The people who are doing best in this category are also the ones not getting a lot  of support for the top spot.  I think this is a great indicator of who people might be comfortable with on the bottom of a presidential ticket.  The top 5 candidates ever % are Mike Huckabee (60%),  Marco Rubio & Bobby Jindal (55%) and Rick Santorum and Carly Fiorina 53 %

If you take The Ever % and the subtract the never % and then add the undecided % to it the top 7 candidates are

Candidate (E-N+U%)
Rubio (40%)
Fiorina (36%)
Carson (34%)
Jindal (33%)
Huckabee (32%)
Cruz (27 %)
Santorum (20%)

So I believe the polling data can speak to who of the 15 candidates might be perceived as possible vp contenders next summer.  Of course it’s only October and the poll was only based on potential Iowa caucus voters.  I hope I hope to delve into future polls to see if my vp hunches are accurate.

Oh and if you added 7 and 7 and got 14 and could not figure out the one candidateof the 15 remaining that I did not mention,  it was Ohio Governor John  Kasich.  4% chose Kasich 1st or 2nd in the poll, 36 % stated they  would possibly (ever) vote for him and   45 % of respondents said they would never vote for Kasich.