During the 2012 presidential elections in the United States, there was moment during the Republican primary debates that struck me. Ron Paul paraphrased the Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Another way of stating it is, treat others as you would want to be treated. This statement is very important because it is the foundation of almost every moral system. It is something that is taught to most small children, in many cultures and by most religions and philosophies.
Most importantly, the Golden Rule was taught by Jesus. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus said, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets”, and in Luke 6:31 He said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Ron Paul paraphrased Jesus Christ in the 2012 Republican primary debate. He specifically cited this teaching in reference to war, as Congressman Paul has been pretty consistently against war. What happen to Paul is remarkable. The entire audience booed him! A US congressman and presidential candidate was booed for quoting Jesus, and this was in the Republican Party, which is supposed to be the party of Christian values. This incident can be viewed in several places online. I suggest watching it:
When I watched that on television as it happened, I was upset but not surprised. American politicians, party activists, and voters love to talk a lot about God. We invoke the name of God everywhere. It is even on the money in our pocket. However, we never take God seriously. We like to talk about God, but not worship or live like God asks of us.
Going back to the 2012 election for a moment – the Republican Party eventually nominated Mitt Romney as its candidate, and there was a coalition of Conservative Evangelicals, Roman Catholics, and other Christians who endorsed him, which has been the case for the Republican Party since the 1980s. Mitt Romney is a super-wealthy businessman and Mormon. Remember, the Bible often speaks against money, and Mormons are far from mainstream, orthodox Christians. The Republican Party booed the man who quoted Jesus and endorsed the man who goes against much of what Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics claim to stand for.
Then, just four years later, the Republican Party nominated Donald Trump. Like Romney, Trump seems to reflect everything that a conservative Christian would be against – greed, selfishness, sexual immorality, biblical illiteracy, and so on. The man has many moral failings and seems to know very little about Christianity or what the Bible teaches. I could go on to list many specific examples with scriptural citations to compare and contrast Trump and the Bible, but I honestly don’t think I have to (plus PCPJ already has a letter outlining our criticisms of Trump). I think it is something that is obviously known by anyone who takes their faith seriously and reads the Bible regularly. In fact, many pastors and theologians only cautiously endorsed Trump because they knew that his personal life did not reflect their values. They still endorsed him because of the fact that he is currently a Republican, however.
Meanwhile, many were shocked that the conservative wing of the American church would dare give such an endorsement for a man who clearly doesn’t share their values. I am not. I mentioned what happened to Ron Paul to show that some Christians have replaced the authority of God with the authority of the Republican party. They claim to worship Jesus, but they certainly do not follow Him. When God says to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, and they booed someone for quoting that portion of Scripture, you are not following the God of the Bible any longer. Likewise, you cannot claim to support the sanctity of marriage and endorse a man who has had several marriages and affairs, and was associated with sex traffickers.
So far I have spoken on the Republican Party, but if we are being honest, the Democratic Party is just as guilty of this behavior. For decades the Democratic Party has exploited liberal churches and social gospelers to win elections all while betraying the very message they claim to preach.
Take Barack Obama, for instance, who many liberal Christians consider to be a great president. Did you know that the Obama administration illegally bombed several countries (including American citizens), handed migrant children to human traffickers, and oversaw policies that overwhelmingly benefited the rich? It is worth remembering that Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden were involved in that administration. I think they may have booed Ron Paul as well. They certainly wouldn’t agree with what Jesus said.
I know many Christians who are honest voters, and they vote to the best of their ability – Republican, Democrat, and otherwise. I completely respect those who try to vote honestly while recognizing that neither major party truly reflects Jesus’ teachings. I don’t think any man-made political party will reflect Jesus’ teachings. It may claim to, but it never will.
However, there is a serious problem in the American church. Far too many Christians have replaced the Gospel for their party’s platform. I see many Christian leaders telling their communities to vote for Trump or Biden because their preferred candidate is the “Christian choice”. But how can that really be the case? How can either party reflect the fullness of the Gospel, the radicalness of the Gospel? How can either party faithfully reflect the Christian message?
And another question – how can the United States be a nation “under God” when our political system consistently betrays God? How can we be a “Christian nation” if we consistently disapprove of Jesus’ teachings? I don’t think the US is “under God” or blessed by God. Rather, the US is an empire, just like Rome, Greece, Babylon, or Egypt. It cares about power, influence, money, and many of the other byproducts of politics and economics. It does not care about the poor, meek, or marginalized like God does. There is something fundamentally broken about the American political system, and I think no matter who one votes for, you still get one Caesar or another.
I will be voting in the election this year as I often do, as I believe voting is a form of service towards others, but I also think we must acknowledge that neither candidate the political establishment gives us will be faithful to the Gospel. The American political system is designed for the maintenance of an empire, not the advancement of the Kingdom of God.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!