By: Joe Murray, The Bulletin
Humility has always been the cornerstone of the Christian faith, and Jesus its model. Those who seek to walk in the footsteps of Christ have guarded their values from the temptations of the world, but have also opened their hearts to those walking along side them. Christianity, thus, is a faith where “God resisteth the proud, and giveth his grace to the humble.” (James 4:6).
“(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father,” proclaimed Jesus in Matthew 6:1.
Jesus continued, “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them… But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.” (Matthew 2:6).
After watching last week’s Values Voters Debate (VVD) sponsored by the American Family Association, this author’s former employer, as well as other family values groups, one wonders if this Gospel reading got lost in the shuffle.
There can be no mistake that America is lost-culturally, politically and morally. She has deviated from the wisdom of the Founders, lost her certitude in a global marketplace that seeks to exploit her, not embrace her, and has been courted by a number of individuals who seek to place the politics of man before the principles of God. And the VVD is Exhibit “A.”
Equipped with a persecuted mayor (Ft. Lauderdale’s Jim Nagle), a Church of God choir singing “Why Should God Bless America?,” and charges of persecution, the VVD placed the GOP candidates before a fundamentalist firing squad and gave them 3 hours to plead their case as to why the trigger should not be pulled.
As an individual that has worked, and continues to work, in the arena of Christian rights, this author was shocked at the degree of political pandering carrying the banner of religious righteousness. From the very beginning, this debate was more hubris then humility.
Its website is topped with a large banner proclaiming Values Voters as “America’s largest voting bloc” and its organizers, arguing Values Voters wield the power of the GOP nomination, predicted doom for those candidates failing to appear. This behavior has undermined the Christian faith and caused the bride of Christ to weep.
It is not coincidental that the road to Hell is paved with the best of intentions, thus while one hopes that conservative leaders, such as Don Wildmon, began their crusade motivated by morality, it appears that a number of them have been hypnotized by the siren song of the almighty dollar.
Christian activism has become a lucrative business. According to its 990 form, the AFA took in millions. Arguably, such revenue was made possible by sending out “Action Alerts” warning homosexuals will throw Christians in jail under the hate crimes bill. Such rhetoric is misleading a best, dishonest at worse.
How does one protect Christianity? Send money. Call it cash-back Christianity, and the VVD was no different.
The VVD had an opportunity to restore sanity to Christian public activism, but it quickly became a political sideshow to see which candidate was the political Christian of choice.
The result? A conservative carnival.
Alan Keyes channeled his inner Benny Hinn, while John Cox mused about transvestite teachers. Sam Brownback stated that Bush should have the spent the political capital earned in 2004 on the Federal Marriage Amendment, not Social Security Reform, and Mike Huckabee proclaimed that if the U.S. leaves Iraq, it loses.
Gays, once again, became the whipping post of choice, as Free Congress Foundation chairman Paul Weyrich asked the candidates what they would do to “stop the homosexual agenda?” The answers given were dishonorable.
Regardless of one’s position on the topic of gays in the military, America is a nation at war and there are gay soldiers fighting in the Middle East. This is a fact.
In answering Weyrich’s question, Duncan Hunter proclaimed the reason the military is strong is because he worked to ban gays and Brownback praised Gen. Peter Pace who called gay soldiers immoral earlier this year. What message does that send to those fighting in the trenches?
To use these soldiers as political capital in a presidential election is shameful. And the fact that those in the audience applauded after such comments speaks volumes of just how far removed the VVD was from Christian compassion.
The issue of homosexuality is not the only reason to indict the VVD for crimes against Christianity, as the debate championing pro-life values apparently forgot the fact that preemptive war is not a part of the pro-life tradition.
Prior to his papacy, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made it clear that the “concept of a ‘preventive war’ does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Pope Benedict was merely reaffirming the Christian tradition of the Just War doctrine.
In the desire to defend the President’s political decision to go to war, the VVD, and most of the candidates, praised Iraq and even hinted to war with Iran. Tom Tancredo argued “this is not a war on terror…we are at war with radical Islam” and Brownback predicted “we are going to be fighting this battle as long as we fought communism.”
Only one candidate had the moxie to confront the politicization of Christianity, and that candidate was Ron Paul.
“I get to my God through Christ and Christ to me is a man of peace,” stated Paul. “Christ is for love and forgiveness and turning the other check and for peace and to justify what we do in the name of Christianity is very dangerous and not part of what Christianity is all about.”
Unfortunately, Rep. Paul, it is what Christian politics has become.
Joe Murray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
©The Evening Bulletin 2007