Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Pretend Christians for President?


Abraham Lincoln grew up in a Christian home, but when he was in his early twenties, his law partner described him as “a man surrounded by people exceedingly liberal in matters of religion.” Through their influence, Lincoln was soon a fanatical atheist who argued against the existence of God at every opportunity. He soon gained a reputation for being so contentious about his atheism that people would avoid him on the street. But his faith journey took a providential turn in a different direction when he met and fell in love with Mary Todd, a devoted Episcopalian. Under her loving influence, his atheistic rage turned into a passionate search for the truth about God. Lincoln now devoured the Bible, became a Christian believer and became as fanatic about his new Christian beliefs as he had been with his former atheist beliefs. Recently, liberal scholars have reviewed his early writings as an atheist and discounted his many years of later writings and speeches as a man with deeply held Christian beliefs. The scholars have concluded that, “Lincoln was an atheist or at least an agnostic and that his public use of God-language was merely the religious window dressing required of politicians in a religious age.” They are wrong about Lincoln but do politicians really do that? Is our current president doing that? Are the democratic candidates doing that? Let’s look at some of the politicians in the news today and see what we think based upon what they have said about their religion and their faith...

Every president has been a Christian and that’s why our current crop of candidates are trying so hard to be one themselves. A look at the numbers will show us why: In America, 70.6% of us identify as Christian believers but in the 2016 presidential election, 75% of those who voted were Christians. Last month, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution recognizing the so-called “religious nones” as “the largest religious group” in their party. (Religious nones are atheists, agnostics and those who are not affiliated with any religious faith). As the Democratic party reaches out to embrace this demographic group, that’s why we see some uncomfortable religious contortions by the candidates and hear their puzzling deflections of questions about their faith as they try to be both “Christian” and “non-Christian” at the same time. By the way, only about 22% of all Americans consider themselves to be the “religious nones” but only 15% voted in the 2016 election. 

The following comes from network news sources – mostly from CNN and the candidate’s biographies. Note that following the snippet of information about the candidate’s faith I have put “In My Humble Opinion” (imho) about whether or not I personally believe the person is a Christian believer. You may disagree! All of the Christian democratic candidates have a liberal social justice mind-set and, for some, their words and actions might bring a fundamentalist Christian to a different conclusion about their faith. Even if I strongly disagree with the candidate’s theology and/or lifestyle, I consider them to be a Christian if they appear to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and appear to be sincerely living out their faith as they understand it.

Kamala Devi Harris named after a Hindu goddess, was raised in the Hindu faith by her mother who told the L.A. Times that “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women.” Hindus do not believe in God and Harris is understandably reluctant to talk about her faith. As a Senator, she listed her religion as “Baptist” but has not attended a Baptist church since the age of twelve. She only talks today about attending the Black Baptist church with a neighbor friend and singing in the choir, but she will not answer questions about her “Baptist” church experience and is most likely referring to Vacation Bible School since small children do not sing in Baptist church choirs. Her policies suggest an anti-Christian bias and she recently stated that the free exercise of religion is meant to be practiced within an institutional religion, meaning that she believes it is inappropriate for us to freely express our religious beliefs outside of church on a Sunday. imho NO

Elizabeth Warren lists her faith as “Methodist” and repeatedly talks about teaching Sunday school fifty years ago during her first marriage. When asked about her church attendance since that time, she deflects the question by replying that she was “raised Methodist” and nearly every time the issue of her faith has been raised, she responds that it doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s about your actions and she quotes Matthew 25 (doing for the least of these). Both Warren and Saunders seem to become uncomfortable, and at times defensive, when being asked questions about their religious beliefs. imho NO

Socialist candidate Bernie Saunders is a cultural Jew who stated, “I am not an atheist but I don’t believe in God.” Huh? He recently told a Black Youth Leadership Conference that, “The Bible, if is about anything, it’s about justice and standing up to the wealthy and powerful.” The anti-Christian Saunders determined that an administration nominee (Russell Vought) was unfit for public office because of his Christian belief that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ. imho NO

Beto O’Rouke is a non-practicing Catholic who has publically attacked both the Catholic church and her priests. The large majority of those who are Muslim, Jewish, and Christian believe that human sexuality and marriage are rooted in Scripture. O’Rouke recently stated that, if elected, he would ensure that any church who holds to those traditional religious beliefs and does not conform to liberal thought about same sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status. A collective shudder went through the rest of the progressive candidates as they saw that the political blunder of one of their own guaranteed that he will never be elected our President. imho NO

Tulsi Gabbard is deeply committed to the polytheistic (many gods) religion of Vaishnava Hinduism, which teaches that the preserver god Vishnu and his incarnation Krishna are Supreme Gods. She took her congressional oath of office on the supreme yoga/Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita. I have a lot of respect for her because she is openly honest about her religion and is not pretending to be a Christian to win an election! imho NO

Cory Booker is the most outspoken about his Baptist faith and when he speaks in churches he preaches his liberal politics with the passion and cadence of a Black Baptist preacher. I was impressed by what appeared to be his genuine and sincere Christian beliefs until after a shooting, he told CNN news that “offering thoughts and prayers (for victims and survivors) was bulls**t.” He was making a point about gun control but that statement offended and turned away many of the Black (and non-Black) Christian voters whose support he needs next year. He also offended Black conservative voters when he applied a “religious test” to judicial nominee Naomi Rao and grilled her on her Christian beliefs about same sex marriage to make sure her beliefs were in alignment with his own progressive liberal religious beliefs. imho YES

Pete Buttigieg was baptized in the Catholic church as an infant and he grew up attending Catholic schools. While at Oxford University, he began to explore his sexuality and transferred from the conservative Catholic church to the ultra-liberal Episcopal church. He and his husband are members of that church and both are regular church-goers. Buttigieg articulates well the social justice doctrine of his Episcopal church and has said that “Scripture is about protecting the stranger, and the prisoner, and the poor person, and that idea of welcome.” imho YES

“My religion defines who I am,” said Joe Biden, “And I’ve been a practicing Catholic my whole life.” Biden has said that it was his faith that brought him through the death of his first wife, Neilia, and his infant daughter in a car crash and through the death of his son, Beau, in 2015. A few years ago, Biden publicly stated that he supported his Church’s doctrine on abortion and marriage and his votes as a Senator affirmed his Christian beliefs. During his current run for president, his progressive liberal advisers are redefining who he is and he no longer supports Catholic doctrine on abortion and marriage. Last Sunday, Biden attended a Catholic church and was denied Communion by the priest who later said, "Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching." Bishops and practicing Catholics are divided over whether Biden is still “Catholic.” But from a strictly Biblical point of view that we are saved through grace alone by faith alone then, imho YES

Let’s look now at our most recent former President. Barack Hussein Obama was born to a Muslim father and an atheist mother who listed his religion as “Muslim” in the Indonesian school where he received instruction in the Islam faith. Obama said he was converted to Christianity when he was twenty seven and was baptized at Trinity United Church in Chicago. The pastor, Jeremiah Wright, was quoted in a recorded interview as saying, “I made it comfortable for him to accept Christianity without having to renounce his Islamic background.” But those who attended Trinity United Church of Christ said that Obama and his family were never involved in their church and he only attended for political reasons. Obama often spoke eloquently about his Christian beliefs and yet in 2015, a CNN poll showed that 29% believed he was Muslim. No modern president has ever had his faith questioned to the extent that Obama had. imho ???

If you’d asked me in 2016, I would have said Hillary Clinton imho YES and Donald Trump imho NO!!! 

Donald Trump may tie with Dwight D. Eisenhower for being the least Christian president when he was elected. (Eisenhower was a Jehovah’s Witness who, after being elected, was persuaded by the Rev. Billy Graham to become baptized and join the Presbyterian church.) During Trump’s campaign, his cluelessness about the Christian faith was sometimes laughable. He misquoted the Bible several times and one time referred to “Second Corinthians” as “two Corinthians.” At one photo opportunity to show him in church, he revealed his unfamiliarity with a church service when the communion plate was being passed down the pew and he took a wad of cash out of his pocket confusing the communion plate with the collection plate. I remember the photo of him holding up a Bible. It’s a very old – what appears to be a pew Bible – hardcover, tattered and well-worn from years of use in a church. Stamped on this old pew Bible in very large brand-new shiny gold letters to be easily picked up by the camera, was the name DONALD TRUMP. When people were seeing the things I just commented on and they were disbelieving that Trump was a Christian, he held this Bible up at a conservative Christian rally and said that his mother gave it to him many years ago. Perhaps. But it looked like a prop to me. During the campaign, Trump said the Bible was his favorite book but he was never able to answer any questions about it. During an interview, he was asked if he liked the Old or New Testament better and he replied, "It’s all the same to me." He was asked to name his favorite Bible verse and he replied by saying his “favorite chapter in Proverbs was never bend to envy." Trump didn’t know the difference between a Bible “chapter” and a “verse” and the so-called biblical quote "never bend to envy" does not appear in the Bible. Trump said to an interviewer that he’d never asked God for forgiveness but, “When I drink my little wine and have my little cracker, I guess that is a form of asking for forgiveness.” 

During a sermon where I did not advocate for any candidate but just talked about the faith of each one, I said that if Trump is elected president, he may be the most atheistic, immoral and ungodly president we have ever had. I would not say that today. Under the influence of Evangelical Christian Vice-President Pence, Trump has surrounded himself with Evangelical Christians and his first Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus was a devout Eastern Orthodox Christian. The majority of Trump’s cabinet are Evangelical Christians and a few days ago, the media expressed their rage after Trump asked HUD secretary Dr Ben Carson to open the cabinet meeting in prayer. According to the racially diverse group of megachurch pastors Trump has invited to advise him on matters of faith, Trump has accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and is now a Christian believer. I trust those Black, Hispanic and White men and women of God who know Trump better than you and I do. That's why if we apply the same standard to Trump that we applied to the liberal candidates, then... imho YES

Which Presidents were the most religious? Jimmy Carter was the first “born again” president and he still teaches Sunday School in his Baptist church. George W. Bush was our Nation’s most outspoken Evangelical president. William McKinley was a strict Methodist who avoided drinking, swearing and other sins and sang hymns while working in his White House office and James Garfield was the only ordained clergyman to serve as president. And of course, Abraham Lincoln who as president attended church weekly, kept a Bible on his White House desk and would turn conversations with his visitors into discussions about religion. Lincoln gave magnificent political speeches and proclamations that were God-centered and in one of his inaugural addresses spoke of “Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land.” 

One of the above democratic candidates or Donald Trump will most likely be our next President and you may cry tears of great joy or tears of rage and grief. Just remember that no matter what the outcome, we have a God who has never yet forsaken this favored land and never will. God is in control. “The Lord has established His throne in Heaven, And His Kingdom rules over all.” Psalm 103:19

This material was compiled from network news, other third-party news sources, Wikipedia and campaign biographies and is intended to give the reader information about the apparent religious views of various political candidates. Nothing is intended to be a recommendation for or against any individual politician running for office. You are encouraged to let this information be a starting point and do your own research that you may vote wisely.

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The AMEN Corner is a weekly devotional for the family and friends of New Hope Family Church. It is intended for this devotional to be strengthening, encouraging or comforting and your comments too should be for the glory of God and reflect the intended purpose of these posts.

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