Sunday, December 02, 2007

The fallout from running as the Christian President

A George Will attack:

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee's candidacy rests on serial non sequiturs: I am a Christian, therefore I am a conservative, therefore whatever I have done or propose to do with "compassionate," meaning enlarged, government is conservatism. And by the way, anything I denote as a "moral" issue is beyond debate other than by the uncaring forces of greed.


Huckabee combines pure moralism with incoherent populism: He wants Washington to impose a nationwide ban on smoking in public, show more solicitude for Americans of modest means and impose more protectionism, thereby raising the cost of living for Americans of modest means.

Although Huckabee is considered affable, two subliminal but clear enough premises of his Iowa attack on Mitt Romney are unpleasant: The almost 6 million American Mormons who consider themselves Christians are mistaken about that. And -- 55 million non-Christian Americans should take note -- America must have a Christian president.

Another pious populist who was annoyed by Darwin -- William Jennings Bryan -- argued that William Howard Taft, his opponent in the 1908 presidential election, was unfit to be president because he was a Unitarian, a persuasion sometimes defined as the belief that there is at most one God. The electorate chose to run the risk of entrusting the presidency to someone skeptical about the doctrine of the Trinity.

If Huckabee succeeds in derailing Romney's campaign by raising a religious test for presidential eligibility, that will be clarifying: In one particular, America was more enlightened a century ago.
This is the question that is before us now, do we elect a president who is running as a Christian but whose fiscal policies and his moralism (the federal ban on smoking, universal healthcare) would be bad for the country or should we elect a Mormon or more secular candidates (not making their Christianity an issue) who want to hold down spending and taxes and would be an advocate for life?

As Christians, shouldn't we elect godly leaders? Yes, but let me ask you this: would you vote for Jimmy Carter or Hillary Clinton just because they are Christian? No, of course not! Because you know they would be a terrible choice to run this country. We have to ask ourselves the same question about Huckabee: is he the best choice to run this country, are his policies beneficial to our society? Will the economy continue to grow under him and is he the best choice to protect our nation during a time of war? These are questions we have to ask of every candidate and then we need to pick the one who is most able to lead -- that is the burden we bear living in a democracy. We have a moral obligation as citizens of this country to elect the one who would govern they way we would if we were leading the nation.

There is no such thing as a political savior, the nation doesn't need a moralistic leader (one who advocates moralism), they need a political leader (who is moral and ethical). Remember, God kept the church and state (priest and king) separate in Israel for a reason. We should remember that when we vote, Huckabee is trying to blur the distinction. The power to change our society doesn't rest in the office of president it rests in the power of the gospel to change lives.

I think it might be wise to keep in mind the words of Luther when we vote in the primaries, he said that he would rather be ruled by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian. Our job will be to figure out the best man for the job whether he is a Christian or not.

Update: I wanted to clarify some points, so edited the post. I'm not saying that a Christian shouldn't run for office but that a Christian candidate should not make a distinction between himself and another candidate based on his Christianity. Having a contest to see who is the most Christian isn't Christianity isn't an accomplishment and neither is being a Christian leader:
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God