Tomorrow is Election Day…So What?

Before you read any further, go to the * in the right side column and read my disclaimer. voetI am not a fan of cynicism.  I am, however, downright cynical when it comes to politics.  Sometimes I feel that there are no good choices when it comes time to vote.  (Tomorrow’s US Senate election in KY is a perfect example of that as far as I’m concerned)  I feel like it is a huge distraction from the gospel whenever preachers get onto the subject of politics.  I nearly cringe whenever I hear statements about politics or politicians from the pulpit.  I believe, and I have said this before, that there is ultimately no hope in the world that can be found through politics.  I don’t believe that better laws will make better people and I don’t believe that worse laws make worse people.  I believe that if there is going to be a change in our country, or in our culture, or in our government it will come, not because we pass the right laws, but because of a move of God in the hearts of individuals.

Now having said all of that –

I will be voting tomorrow

It is absolutely our duty as Christians to vote.  It is our responsibility as American citizens to vote.  Just because better laws won’t solve the problems in our nation, or in our local school district, doesn’t mean that better laws aren’t better.

I don’t believe that we will solve the problems this country has through politics; only through evangelism.  This is a “both and” situation.  However, we need to make our voices heard, most importantly through evangelism, but also in the political arena.  If we are silent then we cannot act or be confused by lawmakers who don’t listen.

Pearls Before Swine


Tomorrow I have a post coming that is a followup to what I think is the best post I've ever written.   Essentially I am interacting with that post and a recent news headline from my local paper. If you would like to read that post, here it is.  Today, however, I will simply outline my argument from that post.  Let me know if you agree or disagree, but think on it, because I really want the opinions of my readers tomorrow.

The argument I am articulating goes like this:

-  Christians often say, "We have all these problems because Christians have been silent for too long." I have never heard this statement questioned.

-  What people mean when they say this is that Christians don't make their voice heard on social issues facing our country.

-  I say - we do make our voice heard, and we do it very well.  Every American knows the predominant evangelical view of nearly every social issue.

-  I say - this does not fix the problem because it is only treating the symptoms.  It's as if the doctor diagnosed you with Swine Flu but only gave you aspirin to get rid of the aches and pains.

-  I say - we have been silent too long...with the gospel message.  If people's hearts are changed, their political views will change.  Otherwise, lost people will behave like lost people.

Tomorrow I plan to demonstrate my point with a recent headline from our local paper and some context.

Five Things We Can Learn From the Election

One of the odd things about having a blog is that, merely by its existence, it implies that people care about what I think. This blog does very poorly when I try to be interactive, so today it’s just commentary.*

I voted for John McCain, not because I am a huge fan of McCain, but because I find so many of the policies of Obama incompatible with a Christian worldview and my view of how America should be. Having said that;

I will be praying for the presidency of Barack Obama.

Here are my thoughts as a Christian about the election and what we know.

1. Ultimately hope is not found in politics – I wrote an entire post about this once, but I’ll reiterate my position. Our hope in not found in government or laws, even if it is a political slogan. Hope is only found in Christ. (Cue Steven Curtis Chapman Heaven in the Real World)

2a. Better laws don’t make better people – I am certain without a doubt that the basic problem with the world is sin. If every law on the books was perfect, we would still live in a badly broken world and still have all the problems we have today.

2b. Worse laws don’t make worse people – See above. The problems that exist in our nation, from crime to a failing economy, are not law problems, but heart problems.

3. God is in control – “He removes kings and sets up kings” Dan 2:21

4. We get what we deserve – To some degree. The simple fact is, we all vote our values. If we value our 401(k), or prosperity more than morals, we vote against incumbents when the economy is down. Fortunately, we don’t get exactly what we deserve, otherwise we would truly be hopeless.

5. We better get to work evangelizing our cities - I think that one speaks for itself.

Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church. They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church. They are my views as an individual.

Stolen post

I stole the content for this post from another blog.  Be warned there is nothing original here.  I was originally going to put this in best web junk, but by then it loses all its timeliness. Yesterday Ze Frank asked for political haikus.  I read them so you don't have to.  Here are my favorites...

In the serious category:

The line is so long But I know that it's worth it I'm calling in sick

I vote my world view I won't vote color or age Don't get distracted

In the humorous category:

What does the loser do with all his balloons? Is there still a party?

In the humorous but also serious category:

it's nearly over thank god the ads will end soon and we can move on

In the poignant political statement category:

When you don't reside in a swing state, it all seems so very distant.

In the completely jaded at such an early age category:

Stop bothering me About this dumb election I am not 18

And my personal favorite:

Local middle school Your gym holds our tomorrow Yet smells like fish Sticks

In the very good but not a haiku category.  (come on it's 5-7-5 people):

There goes another Perfectly good billion Dollars down the drain

Living in a swing state Suddenly my vote matters much more than before!

This clip is worth your time

Maybe this explains why I didn't watch the third debate - I had heard it all before. Seriously, whoever put this together demonstrates the ridiculousness of our political system in America, in the course of 3 minutes.  Does anybody think you couldn't do this with any 3 debates of any 2 candidates since the advent of CNN?

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.735475&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Update - I can't get the controls to work with this, so I had to click on it to watch it on the original site.

One Week

And it will be over.  Commercials will be on TV that are about products, not just candidates.  The news will have something new to talk about.  And we will have a new president-elect. I am personally of the opinion that, however the election goes, we get what we deserve.  Maybe I'm overly pessimistic about politics (I am after all truly thankful to live in a democracy) but I do not see anything substantial changing, regardless of who is elected.  Our country is set up in such a way that no one really has all that much power.  In truth, who you vote for for governor makes much more difference than who you vote for president.

That is not to say your vote doesn't matter.  As Christians we absolutely have a duty to vote, and to vote according to the Bible.  To do anything else would be irresponsible, poor stewardship, and make us bad citizens.

Please vote.  Pray, read your Bible, and vote.

Here's a list of all my political polls from this blog's history

[polldaddy poll=1052412][polldaddy poll=929433][polldaddy poll=946871]

Another post about politics

Please be sure to read the * at the bottom for my disclaimer. Last Tuesday I wrote a post complaining about, among other things, covering elections by polls. Then I promptly went out last Wednesday and read this Zogby poll.  It is very telling.

Today I want to post about politics again, but this time from a different angle. Before I begin I want to say that I am certain that no hope for this world, or for our country is found in politics, but only in the gospel of Jesus. (You can read more of my thoughts on this subject here, in what I consider my best post ever.)   It does, however, matter how we vote.

So how should responsible Christians think about politics? There are those who would say that there is nothing to think about; we are Republicans, right? Then there are those others who would say that the Republican party is too ungodly they don’t care about the environment and they are only concerned about money so we are to be Democrats. My pastor says look at the party platforms and see which you are. (Here are links to the Democratic and Republican platforms 2008 version.) I must admit that at 123 pages I did not read both platforms.  I did, however, skim them both, and my conclusion is that although the two sides are in opposition on most major issues, there is plenty covered by both parties that I can disagree with.  (I disagreed with a lot more in one than in the other)

How are we, as responsible Christians, to vote?  It seems that it comes down to issues and how a particular candidate feels about those issues.  Let's imagine that there are only a handful of issues, even though in reality there are more like hundreds,  those issues include:

  • The economy (it's the economy, stupid) or see here
  • The war on terror, including the Iraq war
  • Technology issues, such as net neutrality
  • Sanctity of human life issues
  • Defining Marriage
  • Healthcare
  • Immigration
  • Energy policy, including climate change policy
  • Social security
  • Issues of privacy vs. security
  • Crime control

Here is where it becomes more difficult, it is not  as simple as merely dividing up the candidates by their positions, seeing who is on my side more often, and selecting that candidate.  The fact is, these issues do not all weigh the same.  If I am in agreement with one candidate in his view of net neutrality and another candidate in his view of the sanctity of human life, (which, in fact, I am) those are not equal issues.  Both are important, but it is more important to protect human life than to protect the internet from the greed of the telecoms.

For quite a long time evangelicals have been considered a two issue group. However, lately there is this notion in the media that evangelicals are no longer interested in the same issues.  This is largely brought on by Rick Warren’s movement to assist with AIDS in Africa and the recent statements by evangelicals on global warming. In response I will quote Dr. Daniel Akin, who said his [SEBTS] presidential forum last week, “We’re not looking for a different moral/social agenda, but we are looking for an expanded agenda.”

I would agree with that statement totally.  What I am saying is that Christians should still be committed to the issue of the sanctity of human life in all its forms, from the youngest to the oldest. Christians should still be concerned about defining marriage legally the same way that it is defined biblically. Those, however, should not be the entire list. We should be concerned about the poor in our nation and around the world.  We should be concerned about those in war-torn parts of the world.  We should be concerned about the AIDS epidemic both in Africa and in America, and we should be concerned about the way we care for our planet.

I guess, 700 words into this post, it's time to reach some conclusions.  So let's ask the question again; How should a responsible Christian vote?  At the very least a Christian should be educated about the candidates, know their views on the issues, and vote according to his or her beliefs.

It is also imperative that Christians know which issues are most important.  In the Zogby poll I mentioned earlier, the number one issue by a landslide was the economy, and that was before the disastrous events of last week.  I submit to you two things.  First, the president actually has very little control over the economy.  The current issues have arisen from corporate debt, and the next collapse is coming because of personal debt.  Second, don't sacrifice morality for money.  What I'm saying is; it's not the economy, stupid.

A final word. Vote! Don’t ignore your local elections. In all reality, your mayor, or governor or city councilman will have much more effect on your life than the president. Voting for president is important, but don’t ignore your local elections.

[polldaddy poll="946871"]

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.

Best Web Junk (September 19)

If you are a  Simpsons fan, this map is amazing a new monster

A duck scared of water?  Maybe because it's a Chicken in disguise

The best of GraphJam this week

A very difficult game (at least for me)

Since my other post was about politics this week, here's a high quality rant from Craig Ferguson



The Political State of Affairs

This post on politics will probably not be what you expect.  That post is coming either tomorrow or Thursday.  But since this is my first ever post about politics, please go to the * and read my disclaimer. This is an election year.  For me it's a year to vote for governor and US Senator as well as another office you may have heard of, President of the United States.  One of the interesting phenomenons that is a part of the election process is the coverage in the media. 

I am not writing this post to simply complain about the coverage, although I am not happy. I already know the situation. In college I was a political science major. Part of studying poly sci in this age (even though I was in college last century) is studying politics in the mass media. Although there is a new form of mass media since I was in college, these lessons are still useful.

The first lesson about politics in mass media is about the practice of negative campaigning. (The Willie Horton ad is the most famous attack ad of all time.)  The short summary of negative campaigning is this – it works – very well. And refuting the messages in attack ads does not work – at all. So how do you combat negative ads?  With negative ads, of course. People all say that they hate them, but they work, so they are not going anywhere.  Get used to them.  BTW, now you can recognize an attack ad before it begins because the "I'm ___ ____, and I approved this message" is at the beginning rather than at the end as a way of separating the candidate's name from the negative ad.

Song Chart Memes

Here’s the second thing to learn about politics in mass media, the news only covers the election as a horse race. For example, if one candidate comes out with a huge policy statement, lets say he is rolling out his policy on terrorism. Here’s is the coverage you will get on the news on every level. A brief summary of the plan, nothing that would ever take longer than 15 seconds, maybe some bullet points, and quite a lot of discussion of how the plan will affect the candidates standings in the polls. The closer the election gets, the less talk of anything substantive. The coverage becomes only stories of new polls and how a particular candidates latest move will affect their standings.  After a debate, the number 1 question will always be; "who won?" Nobody covers what they actually said, unless it was incredibly stupid. Watch and see as we get closer to November.

The world we now live in is slightly different than when I was in college. Now we have the internet. (We had the internet when I was in college, but it was video free and blog free.  It was a very different web.)  A quick perusal of digg on any day, (Go there now, I’d bet there are at least 3 of the top 10 stories on politics (and probably negative about McCain/Palin)) or the top technorati tags or wordpress tags will show you what is popular. And politics is very popular. The problem with the internet is that so much of what we see and is popular is what is called an echo chamber. It’s people blogging about something somebody else already blogged. Then, rumors and half-truths become so popular that nobody can tell them from the truth. I still know people who believe the Obama is a Muslim who refuses to say the pledge of allegiance, and Palin’s youngest child is actually her grandchild. Nobody believes it because of any proof or reason, but because they heard it so often. That is the major problem with the internet as a news source, so much of it is just a giant echo chamber. Over half my posts are just linking to videos or other stuff. And my blog is an actual blog with original content a couple of times a week. Of the thousands & thousands of typepad, wordpress and blogger blogs, I would love to see what percentage contain original content as opposed to reposts of links of stuff from around the web. (BTW – That is why there will always be a need for professional journalists, Their form may just change from newspapers to the web.)

Finally I believe there is a greater influence of celebrity now than there has been in the past. Celebrities have always been involved with politics, but it seems like now there is either much more news about them, or somehow they get much more attention. In just the last week, Matt Damon, Pamela Anderson, and Lindsay Lohan have all publicly bashed Sarah Palin. Every time it makes headlines, and people seem to care.

[polldaddy poll="929433"]

* Although I am a staff member of LaGrange Park Baptist Church, the views and opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not that of the church.  They may not be construed as an endorsement or attack on any candidate or party on behalf of the church.  They are my views as an individual.

A Few More Thoughts on the SBC President

In my previous post I asked people to lobby me for their candidate for SBC president. As I have thought about this I realize that many of my readers need a bit of a lesson in Southern Baptist polity.

I think the first thing to establish is that the president of the Southern Baptist Convention is largely a figurehead position. What I mean by that is that the SBC itself is not so much a denomination as a collection of independent churches. No president of the convention or Associational Director Of Missions has any actual power over any church. Our statement of faith the BFM 2000 is just that; a statement of faith. We join ourselves together because we hold common beliefs not because of any hierarchy. Our associational DOM has no authority over the 96 churches of the NSRBA. The convention president is the same. He has no real power.

So what does the president do and why even bother going to the convention at all? The president is moderator of the convention, he appoints the committee on committees, and he serves largely as a spokesman for all Southern Baptists to the media.

Let’s look at each of these duties and deal with them separately with the 6 candidates in mind.

First, the SBC president serves as moderator over the convention. This is a 2-day per year job. (In execution, though surely there is a lot of prep work that must be done.) Based on my knowledge of the candidates any of them would be fine in this position. There is a parliamentarian on hand to keep whoever it is straight on the details. It may well be that some of the candidates are a bit more in love with the sound of their own voice than others ;) but the sheer amount of business that must be carried out in two days makes it necessary that the president keep things moving. The position of moderator concludes with the convention sermon, they all have different skills in this regard, but hopefully any of them would be well-prepared and ready to bring God’s word to the convention.

Second, the SBC president nominates the committee on committees. Once upon a time, this was probably the most significant part of the job. Now that the convention as a whole is solidly conservative, and full of inerrentists, most likely all of the candidates would appoint all conservatives to this position. (An aside: I am thankful to God for those who figured out the significance of this and led to the conservative resurgence.)

Third, the convention president largely serves as spokesman and ambassador to the media for the entire denomination. It would be impossible to be a spokesman for the entire group of millions of Southern Baptists. As I stated earlier, we are a very independent group, and only joined because we choose to cooperate. This part of the job is significant because the media does not understand the nature of our convention. So we need an apt spokesperson. I have heard Frank Page say repeatedly that he was approached by all the major presidential candidates and asked for an endorsement. There are many other people who to some degree speak on behalf of Southern Baptists. That is essentially Richard Land’s job description, and to a large degree Al Mohler does the same thing. But there will never be a true replacement for the SBC president. This is the part of the job where the candidates truly begin to separate themselves. This is also one of the reasons that the megachurch pastors have a leg up on the field in most cases.

At this point, for me, the election is down to Frank Cox, Johnny Hunt, and Avery Willis, in no particular order. You basically have one more day to lobby me for your candidate, or disagree with my analysis in the comments. Feel free to do so.

Also as a bonus, here are links to the candidates interviews with Baptist Press

Frank Cox

Johnny Hunt

Avery Willis

Les Puryear

Bill Wagner

Wiley Drake


There is a sentiment that I often hear in Christian circles. It basically goes like this; We have all these problems because Christians have been silent for too long. I have never heard it questioned, but today I want to question your thinking about that statement slightly.

I will begin by saying that the “problems” that people are ranting about when these statements are made, are real and true problems. Allowing marriage to be anything other than between one man and one woman is wrong, abortion is wrong, the movement to push the Christian church out of every area of the public sphere is wrong. (E.g. kicking the Gideons out of public school or not allowing Churches to have booths at the Dogwood Festival. Fayetteville NC I’m talking to you.) Those things are wrong! I will unashamedly say so. (And there may be a future blog post about the death of the word wrong)

Secondly, there are some political things that American Christians are silent about. For example, we are often silent about genocide, I suppose because it happens far away. We are silent about the abuse and martyrdom of Christians in most of the world. We are mostly silent about the evil of divorce. (I should say evangelicals are silent about. Liberal Christians believe fixing this stuff is equal to salvation) However, we simply are not silent about the things I hear people complain about all the time. Most non-believers know Christians for their political activity more than anything else

You will not meet a non-Christian in America that doesn’t know the Christian position on marriage or abortion. In fact, research tells us that non-believers believe that what it means to be a Christian is to be judgmental and to hate homosexuals. <aside>This may be their view, but it is simply not true. The best thing that ever happened to me, ever, is asking Jesus to be my lord. I know that lost people are in fact lost and will act that way. It is to be expected.</aside> But we have lost our message somewhere. We can blame the news media, or the people who make entertainment, but if they were Christians they would know better.

The problem [if there is one] with all our political activism is that it is an attempt to fix consequences without taking care of the problems. Dr. Reid always says, "Jesus did not die to make bad people good; he died to make dead people live." The deplorable behavior of our nation will not be fixed by all the political rallies, petitions, or letters (and I write letters to my politicians regularly) that we can produce. They will only be fixed with a great awakening style revival in our nation.

So back to the original statement, we have all these problems because Christians have been silent for too long. I agree with this statement…but not the way most who say it mean it. We have all these problems because Christians have been silent with the gospel message for too long. I am convinced that unless my city councilman actually knows Jesus, there is no reason to expect him to vote like someone who does. (He does claim to be a Christian.) The same goes for my mayor, my Governor, and my president. You get the idea. Also, I know that hope for our world is not found in politics.

This is not a pessimistic post just to complain, I offer solutions. So, what can you, my reader, do to fix all the problems of society? For starters, I would say consider every single person you know at least casually. If you know that any of them do not know Jesus, and you have not witnessed to them, witness to them. That sounds convoluted, so I’ll say it a different way. Tell everyone you know that Jesus loves them and that He died for their sins. If you are reading this and realize that you don't know Jesus go here and watch the movie. Secondly, live differently from the world. Live with joy and your acquaintances will want what you have.