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As I peruse the hundreds of email letters I receive, one observation leaps out at me: in the last few years, there has been a distinct philosophical shift taking place in the reasoning of professing Christians. Somewhere along the way, politicians seem to have been granted a kind of spiritual status. This trend is very troubling and portends great problems for our country. Let me see if I can explain.
Whenever I take issue with the policies or actions of President George W. Bush, I am inundated with all kinds of emails from Christians who usually tend to quote Bible passages regarding "spreading gossip" and "not loving a Christian brother," etc. The same is true when I dare to challenge the statements or actions of notable Christian leaders in the politically oriented Religious Right. What is going on here?
I will tell you what is going on: countless millions of Christians have elevated certain politicians and their mouthpieces in the Religious Right into a church-sphere or even into a God-sphere. In other words, because a politician or conservative celebrity claims to be a Christian, they are presumed to be untouchable. Such people must not be criticized or challenged, no matter how unconstitutional or stupid their actions might be, because doing so makes one guilty of some kind of spiritual law against speaking ill of Christian brothers.
However, when one seeks to become a political leader (whether elected or not), he or she puts their words, actions, and policies under the microscope of public scrutiny. Such scrutiny is not only healthy, it is absolutely obligatory for a free people. Only enslaved people have not the privilege of holding their rulers and leaders accountable.
It is as when the bloody butcher of the former Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, passed away. Millions of Russian people wept and mourned over his death, even though he had personally ordered the torture and slaughter of countless millions of their fellow citizens. Yet, the poor, enslaved masses of Russians, without personal inspection and knowledge of Stalin's bloodlust, and lacking any personal ability to challenge their Supreme Ruler, had actually come to love the bloodthirsty tyrant.
That sounds incredible, but, on a much different level, that is what many Christians are doing today. Because a politician or political personality claims to be a Christian or a conservative, countless millions of unsuspecting and gullible believers become sheep, without the discernment or the ability to hold leaders accountable. As a result, they (and all of us in the process) are being sold into the clutches of internationalism and socialism by the very leaders they passionately defend.
Come on folks, get real! A politician is not a pastor. The American people have a sacred duty to the principles of freedom and their posterity to hold their civil magistrates accountable for their policies and actions. Furthermore, if the civil leader is a true Christian, he would have it no other way.
Therefore, it should not matter one whit whether the political leader identifies himself as a Christian or as a conservative or as a church member. What should matter is whether he obeys his oath to the Constitution (and to God) and whether he faithfully follows the historic principles of freedom laid down in the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. Everything else is smoke and mirrors.
As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else."
America's founders shared Roosevelt's sentiment. Thomas Jefferson said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."
James Madison agreed. He said, "[It] is indispensable that some provision should be made for defending the Community agst [against] the incapacity, negligence or perfidy of the chief Magistrate."
America's most celebrated jurist, Daniel Webster, stated it even more pointedly by saying, "There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence. I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing."
Webster was right. By simply claming to be "Christians," today's politicians are making dupes out of multitudes of believers. They are trusted and revered in much the same way a faithful and beloved pastor would be trusted and revered. No! They are trusted and revered MORE than are their pastors.
Pastors would not be able to get by with the lying, deceit, and dishonesty that politicians routinely get by with. Many believers give politicians much more honor than they give to their pastors. How foolish!
By nature, most politicians are self-serving opportunists who cannot see past the next election. In fact, many (if not most) of them are downright dishonest. After all, only a dishonest man could raise his hand and take an oath to support and defend the Constitution and then proceed to ignore and violate it without so much as an afterthought.
It is time that Christian people begin seeing their politicians, not as saints who can be blindly trusted, but as sinners whose works must be constantly analyzed and scrutinized in the light of the U.S. Constitution.
Forget party labels. Forget church affiliation. Forget personal claims of Christianity. Forget campaign rhetoric. Our civil magistrates have one responsibility: obey the Constitution and be faithful to freedom's principles contained in the Declaration and Bill of Rights. When civil magistrates do that, support them. When they don't, oppose them in every way possible, and then vote them out of office at the earliest opportunity. Anything less is unpatriotic, un-American, and, yes, unchristian.