Presidential Politics and the Character of the Man

As the Presidential primaries continue to roll along, with another 11 states set to hold contests this upcoming Tuesday, a new poll jointly sponsored by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal seems to suggest that the heavily contested primary season is damaging people’s perception of both the Republican Party and the candidates themselves.  At present, when asked to describe the Republican primaries and candidates in a single word or phrase, nearly 70% of the poll’s respondents – including 60% of independents and more than 50% of Republicans – have offered a less than glowing evaluation of the candidates and their behaviors.

While this is not particularly unusual in a hotly contested primary season, what is potentially of concern for evangelical Christians, is our public identification with the Republican Party.  According to a recent article on The Pew Forum, white evangelical Protestants seem to be trending towards a greater affiliation with the Republican Party.  In 2008, 65% of this group identified (or leaned) Republican, while 28% identified (or leaned) Democratic.  But three years into President Obama’s administration, this 37-point gap has swelled to 46 points as 70% of white evangelicals now lean Republican and only 24% lean Democratic.

While some may read this data in a positive light, I can’t help but wonder what this caustic season of Presidential primaries is doing to be people’s perception of the evangelical church and of Christ himself.  When the public figures we either tacitly or openly support conduct themselves in such a caustic manner, people make assumptions about the values we hold to be true.  And my question is: why are we, as evangelicals, not holding candidates to higher standards by openly challenging them on the manner in which they are conducting themselves in this race?   While this conclusion may not be all that flattering to the evangelical community to which I belong, it would seem to me that we appear to be entering into a dangerous new era in Christian history, in which we seem to be willing to set aside character issues so long as our pastors and our candidates publicly advocate what we believe to be the right theology, methodology and/or policy.

 

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3 Responses to Presidential Politics and the Character of the Man

  1. Carrot says:

    The most perplexing disconnect I have with the whole circus is the “do as I say not as I do” part. The fighting for “family values” while engaging in divorce and affairs. Also that the whole Feed the Hungry, Clothe the Naked, Heal the Sick are seen as Socialist Programs and the evil works of liberals looking to undermine the country rather than Christian mandate.

    Is it just a matter of picking the lesser evil candidate with that one pet issue? Ie – you’re for Same Sex Marriage but against Abortion. So you end up going with the politician against Same Sex marriage in favor of the more important Pro-Life angle?

  2. Mary DeVries Yager says:

    I am a proud left leaning Evangelical. When the Bible has more than 2000 verses about poverty, vs. a handful of verses against other hot social issues, I think I better err on the side of being most concerned about poverty and justice for the oppressed. Current Republicans who say publicly that “I am not concerned for the very poor….” need to be called out by the Christian church. Candidates that say “I’ve never met a poor person with a decent work ethic” need to get themselves into the trenches with those in poverty.

  3. Peter Sipes says:

    What the previous two said.

    I also don’t understand the bellicosity of men who say they are Christian but want to start another war, this time in Iran. Prince of Peace much?

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