How a Christian can Vote for Obama

How a Christian can Vote for Obama

Laura at Pursuing Holiness has a post titled How can Christians support Obama?. She begins:

I am frustrated almost beyond belief that any Christian can support Obama. . . .

She then outlines the reasons she has for believing that we cannot support Obama and provides links, describing these points as “well-substantiated.”

Laura’s post falls into a category that I’m not even bothering to read these days on either side of this election. I am frankly quite sick of the hostility and partisan, absolute certainty of so much of the blogosphere. But Laura writes quite a number of good things, and though I often disagree with her quite vehemently, she has enough of a reputation to get me to give it a read.

I was tempted to write, “Simple–just complete the arrow using the nice black marker provided. That’s how we fill out a ballot in this county.” And in Florida there might be a point. We do want to get our votes counted right this time. But I think I’ll respond a bit more.

I’m not going to respond point by point to the various charges, providing my own list of counter-links that I believe are reliable, or giving my own explanation. (It’s an explanation when I do it; spin when the other guy does.) I had to make a decision as to whether I was going to engage on all those issues during this election, and I decided not to, because I have better things to study. I still read some things about them, but I don’t report or pass the information on, because I believe if I did I would be obligated to back up what I say and respond to challenges. I don’t have the time. So if you want “the other side” you’ll have to search for it yourself.

What I have noticed here is that partisans on both sides simply use different sources of knowledge and different standards for their own candidate and the other candidate. To Democrats Barack Obama is ready for the job, even if they didn’t think so earlier. To Republicans he is dangerously inexperienced and unpredictable. Cue Sarah Palin and the positions reverse. There are plenty of nasty things out there about Sarah Palin, and quite frankly, the “substantiation” score is about equal, in my view.

I know neither Republicans nor Democrats will believe me, but that’s OK. Also, you may inundate me with links and proofs, but I’m really not taking much time, and when I do take the time I will read something from each side if at all possible, or use the more reliable sources, in my experience at places like FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com. (Cue accusations of bias against those sources.)

Here are several quick points. It’s not just that Christians are voting for Obama. Obama himself is a Christian. You may not like his brand, but he has expressed a Christian testimony openly. I’m not going to stand in judgment of that. I do not mean that one cannot judge actions; I’m simply saying that I accept that testimony itself at face value. So one could ask simply how could one Christian (me) vote for another Christian (Obama).

I would note here that I would give Obama equal consideration if he actually was Muslim, or atheist, or any other faith, though I doubt I would have the opportunity to vote for him in the general election. A Muslim or an atheist would never make it that far.

But let me get to another point. I reject completely the equation of Christianity with any particular form of politics. I do not accept that “socialist policies that will harm America,” (see Laura’s post) for example, are necessarily anti-Christian. Since I tend toward more capitalist policies myself, I would often argue that socialist policies will fail, but that is a failure of strategy, not of moral intention.

Further, we are not seeing an election of socialism vs capitalism, but rather a choice between two different mixes. There is redistribution of wealth now, and there will be after the election. The question is, how much, from whom, and to whom. I like Obama’s mix on that point better than McCain’s.

On one of the most important moral issues of redistribution, redistributing our expenses into the future through the national debt, I have no faith in the Republican party any more. Odd how they always talk about balanced budgets and reducing spending but when all is said and done the deficit goes up. Bill Clinton (Democrat!) actually managed to reduce it and produce a surplus. Odd that, no?

But let’s bring up the one nasty issue where I think the facts will not be in dispute–Rev. Jeremiah Wright. My only complaint there about Obama is that he ditched his pastor too quickly. I would have preferred that he express his disagreement with specific points but keep his friendship. At the same time I recognize this as a difficult decision. I do believe that from a political point of view Wright was a loose cannon. At the same time, I believe that we in America have no tolerance for a prophetic, convicting voice. I listened to the things for which Wright said America would be damned, and I found that list rather damning. Those are things of which we should repent!

But no, we don’t want to be criticized or questioned. We just want to be comfortable. Well, for me, Christianity is not about being comfortable. I’m not saying those who vote Republican are less entitled to the name “Christian” than I am, but I am saying that they are wrong, dead wrong, when they pretend that their vote supports Christian principles to a greater extent than those who vote for another party.

I plan to vote for Barack Obama because:

  • I support generous treatment of immigrants. It’s likely he won’t be generous enough for my tastes in the way we deal with the alien living amongst us (Leviticus 19:33-34, which I do believe expresses an applicable principle).
  • I believe that we need to protect the environment. Energy conservation of natural resources and alternative sources of energy need to go before new drilling. Sorry, but so far the experts have me convinced on global warming, but even without that, I would believe we need those same priorities.
  • I believe that our foreign policy of attacking people who attack us, and then attacking people who might attack us, while using up our resources in occupying foreign countries is bad both morally and strategically. Obama has far and away the better foreign policy, and I trust him much more with his finger on the trigger. (Here I seem to disagree with the majority of the American people–I’d give McCain a slight edge on the economy, but Obama the edge on foreign policy, just the reverse of the polls.)
  • I believe that we need health care reform. I’m disappointed with both plans, but less so with Obama’s. We’re not using capitalism here either. What we’re doing is taxing hospitals by requiring them to see people in emergency rooms even if they can’t pay, and then failing to provide a way for them to get decent care. That is essentially taxing the hospitals without admitting it, and is a very expensive and expensive way to provide primary care.
  • I believe we need more judges on the supreme court who are interested in individual rights. I probably won’t get that, but in lieu of that I’ll accept balancing the court a bit with a different set of errors instead.
  • I would not make my choice solely on these points but let me note that I believe it will be good for our country to have an African-American president. I like the idea of having a graduate of Harvard Law School who taught constitutional law as president. I think “community organizer” is an excellent resume line for a president of the United States. I don’t object to Obama being relaxed in front of a camera or pronouncing “Pakistan” correctly, and I wouldn’t mind having a president who can both craft and present a good speech.
  • Finally, I believe Republican stewardship has been miserable, and I won’t reward them with my vote. They should reap what they have sown.

I think this list will be satisfactory to very few people. It will simply stir up all those points of disagreement. So let me answer the question more directly: I can vote for Barack Obama as a Christian because I agree with him on many more points than my conservative Christian friends (who are many) do. I have come to different political conclusions than they have. We all desire to follow Jesus, but we disagree on how.

Am I right? I think so, but that is obviously a subject for discussion. What I won’t do is discuss the accusation list. It’s much easier to produce an accusation than to rebut one, and not being a politician it’s a game I’m not obligated to play.

8 thoughts on “How a Christian can Vote for Obama

  1. Man, you are one mixed up dude. You obviously don’t understand or simply choose to ignore the principals on which this country was founded. Barry Obama is the antithesis of our founding fathers. Hopefully, there won’t be enough misguided Americans like you to put Barry in the White House. He is simply the most radical, extreme candidate who ever got this close to the Presidency. The man is an empty suit to boot.

    1. As a minor point, I was curious just which of the current administration’s ideas you regard as consistent with the principles of the founding fathers. Was it warrantless wiretaps? Numerous foreign adventures? Continued concentration of power in the executive branch?

      Considering the variety of people who might be counted as “founding fathers” one can get quite a number of things there.

      My major point would be this: Is the position of the founding fathers equivalent to the correct Christian position? In other words, to be a good Christian must I support all the principles expressed by the American founding fathers?

  2. I will echo the first commenter … “nicely put.”

    I am glad I found your blog. I have been reading some of your posts and while we don’t agree on everything, I like your style.

  3. I have no faith in the Republican party any more. Odd how they always talk about balanced budgets and reducing spending but when all is said and done the deficit goes up. Bill Clinton (Democrat!) actually managed to reduce it and produce a surplus. Odd that, no?

    Amen!

    I’m not saying those who vote Republican are less entitled to the name “Christian” than I am, but I am saying that they are wrong, dead wrong, when they pretend that their vote supports Christian principles to a greater extent than those who vote for another party.

    Absolutely AMEN!

    Finally, I believe Republican stewardship has been miserable, and I won’t reward them with my vote. They should reap what they have sown.

    Amen, and thank you!

  4. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful, respectful post. When it comes to politics in general and the current Presidential election in particular, such posts seem to be a rare gem.

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