The 2012 Election is over. President Barack Obama won 303 electoral votes (of the required 270) and whileÂ we may not have a new President of the United States, Election 2012 has certainly introduced some new conversations to the Christian community. Think back to 2008 and the conversations we were having then. There was great excitement that “it might really happen”â€”the United States of America might elect the first Black President. The discussions of policy centered around gas prices and “Bush-era” tax cuts. There seemed to be far less religious rhetoric than 2012. We pulledÂ out 5 new conversations Americans have been having this year. Listen in, then weigh in.
5. “Is Barack Obama your President or your pastor?”
Gay marriage. Abortion. Questionable support of Israel. Religious political pundits from the right had no problem tallying up reasons why Christians should not vote for President Obama. In response, religious political pundits from the left retorted, “I’m smart enough to know that Barack Obama is my Presidentâ€”not my Pastor.” The sentiment was echoed across pulpits from coast to coast and was a cornerstone talking point for Christians who supported Obama.
4. “Maybe America is NOT a Christian nation after all?”
The grand ole “God Bless America” anthems were sparingly sung this year. Instead, most Christians had to face the reality that America is not a “Christian” nation after all. During a 2009 visit to Turkey President Obama affirmed, “One of the great strengths of the United States is …though we have a very large Christian populationâ€”we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.”
This year, Christians could not pretend that we are “one nation under God” in the face of public policies that clearly revealed America to be a nation where the rule of the people prevails and even that is a dicey proposition. There was a time when most states who had put the gay marriage question to a ballot came back affirming “marriage” as between a man and a woman and choosing to call same-sex partnerships, “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships.”
This year Maine reversed its previous decision to limit the term “marriage” to a man and a woman. Gay rights activists also won victories in Maryland, Minnesota and Washington State joiningÂ Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont in affirming gay marriage.
3. “Salvation is NOT coming from Washington, D.C.”
More than ever before, Christians seemed to acknowledge that the Church has to get its own sleeves dirty on the local level if we want to bring God’s kind of “change” to America. The polarizing and adversarial tones coming from Washington, D.C. and the seeming disdain of elected officials for one another combined with their track record ofÂ under-deliveringÂ change for America has caused many well-meaning Christians to abandon notions of “salvation” from financial hard times or poor performing schools coming from career politicians who seem to covet power more than change. I was truly an election where Christians were fed-up with Washington-style politics.
Â 2. “Dem\’s NOR Republics are pushing God\’s agenda.”
The RNC presented its platform in grand fashion this summer from Tampa. Not long thereafter, the DNC tried to one-up them in Charlotte. Both affairs were filled with great pageantry and soaring rhetoric but what became resoundingly clear to many believers, is that neither party perfectly reflected the values of the Bible. On the one hand you had characterizations of a “get yours cause I got mine” party whose leader is part of Mormonism, which most Christian churches regard as a cult. On the other side opponents labeled Democrats the liberal, baby-killing, God-omitting party. Whichever side you took, no one could rightfully claim a moral high ground.Â It didn’t take long to figure out that neither one of these platforms would be one committed believers could adopt as “our own.”
1. “Who ARE you? Republican, Democratic or Christian”
The most troubling conversation of this election for me is this oneâ€””Who ARE you?” To look at the Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, you would scarcely be able to identify “Christian” commentary on the election. Instead, there was divisive and mean-spirited attacks. There was blatant disrespect for both President Barack Obama (a.k.a. “NObama”) and former Governor Mitt Romney (a.k.a. “Mittens”). If you were a person who is not firm in your faith and looks to your Christian friends to be a source of light, I’m not sure you found much hope this election season.
I saw a well-known “celebrity pastor” blasting a non-celeb follower who asked legitimate questions of a national leader such as, “How can you rationalize supporting Obama when his views contradict our Christian faith?” Instead of dealing with her privately, he shamed her publicly before thousands on Twitterâ€”it may as well have been social media bullying. What happened to “love covers?” Other pastors made lengthy remarks about the election Sunday after Sunday while scantly telling or dismissing altogether the story of Jesus death, burial and resurrection. It was sickening.
“Who ARE you?” I screamed inside wondering and waiting for believers to be Christ-followers first and foremost who filter this world as though we were in it but not of it. It’s a matter of identityâ€”from whom and from where do you derive your identity? And guess what, the true answer is “caught” by observing your character and behavior more than “taught” by the things you say you believe.
The hope for our nation is Jesus. The best strategy for national transformation is for each one of us to go into our world with the truth of the Gospel (that sin separates us from God and that Jesus restores us to God), to make disciples (those who are followers of The Teacher, Jesus) and to call people everywhere to publicly identify with their faith by following the Lord’s example of baptism.
May we pray in earnest, “God bless America.”
About the Author
Â Roland Hairston loves God and loves people. He wrestles with ideas about life, faith, leadership and church and wields strategy, technology and communications to move people to action. As Publisher of Gospel Today, Roland has the joy of bringing information, inspiration, education and empowerment to thousands with each issue.