This Presidential election campaign has surfaced several things that I believe committed Christians should be alarmed about.
First is the wholesale bearing of false witness.
Our household has received via e-mails a number of forwarded messages about the Obama administration that are full of lies. One asserts that “Obamacare” is designed to cut seniors off from life-saving medical procedures through the decisions of “ethics panels” or “death panels.” Another claims to report on a news interview from the midst of the 2008 Presidential campaign in which Barak Obama denigrates the wearing of the American flag, the flag itself, the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner.
There have been many others.
Even when it is pointed out to the senders that these are viral hoax documents that are filled with willful libel, the senders excuse themselves. “Perhaps the wording was wrong. Perhaps there were distortions. But we believe these messages say what we feel is right.” (A dangerous form of “truthiness?!”)
No! It does matter whether you are telling the truth or not. It does matter that you want to believe bad things about someone else—you want it so much that you are willing to pass on mis-information as long as it damages someone’s reputation.
And it does matter, even when the person you are disseminating lies about is a public figure and you don’t know them personally. It matters to all of us when this person is running for the position of the leader of the free world.
This is all bearing false witness on a massive scale, and it should not be condoned by committed Christians.
Another thing that matters is that millions of people in this wealthy nation now go without health care. It matters terribly that in our discussions we keep forgetting this ongoing tragedy and talk instead of the phantom of socialism and just how big government should be. This is enough of a grave issue that well-off Christians who happen to be fortunate enough to have jobs and health insurance should set aside their own concerns to keep their own good fortune going and think for a moment about how to get good health care to the poorest and the most vulnerable of our citizens.
And it also matters gravely that the very wealthiest of our nation have been able to finagle the tax code so that their wealth continues to soar and soar while the great mass of people are getting poorer and are being served in fewer ways by just about everything the government provides, from education to police protection to social services. This situation has been getting worse and along with it comes a gradual collapse of our way of life and standard of living. All committed Christians should be concerned and should demand that our President do something about this. Income from capital gains should not be sheltered from tax any more than income from working an assembly line. The wealthy should not be allowed to funnel their earnings through offshore accounts to allow them to shirk their responsibilities to contribute to the common good.
It matters gravely that the way we waste energy and pollute the environment is catapulting us toward global catastrophe. Through intransigence and selfishness we are accelerating climate change. The Bible doesn’t mention this directly, but it certainly insists that we are to be humble, faithful stewards of the earth, not arrogant exploiters. All committed Christians should care about this and demand fresh, significant and even daring new commitments from our leaders.
It matters gravely that we are making it harder for our young people to help us solve all these problems. Good teachers are the most important asset in education and we have treated them like dirt. We listen to economists and business people and politicians more than we listen to those who actually commit themselves to fighting for good in the education trenches. If we are to save money it should be on administrators and consultants. We should spend more on teachers, not less. And we should commit ourselves to making it easier for our youth to succeed all the way through college and even graduate school without incurring impossible debt loads. The education of any young person is an investment in the future welfare of all of us. Education should be as close to free as we can possibly make it. It is a disgrace that, in a world where a college education is needed for the job market, and where our national economy depends on a well-educated workforce, we are making it harder and harder for our youth to afford a degree or advanced job training. All committed Christians should care about this.
By the way, it matters much less how big government is than who government is working for. It matters that we have gone out of our way to let those with the most money have much more free speech than people with no money. They not only talk louder, they talk straight into the ears of those who make the laws, while the rest of us are drowned out. It used to be that to get into the Forbes Magazine list of the 400 wealthiest Americans you needed to have $75 million in worth. Now the fat cats are so fat they can spend $75 million for a whole lot of extra “free speech” to sway an election—all to guarantee they will get richer still. Committed Christians know this matters and they will want to do something about it.
I am a Christian. I consider myself to be evangelical since the root of that word is the good news or the gospel that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that we all might have life. I consider myself conservative because I believe all the Bible is true and faithful in leading me to faith in Christ, and I believe in living according to the values of the Bible.
But more than anything else I believe in Christ; and His reputation has been taking a hit because so many so-called Christians are not attending to the real things that matter. Instead their hearts and minds have been poisoned to the point that they have more hate than respect for their President. They spread lies about him. They have ignored the many good things he has done. They exaggerate his mistakes and failures. They invent others, or make excuses when others do their lying for them..
I know that caring individuals and churches must do what they can do for the care of their families and neighbors. But the Bible also tells us to care about good government and good leaders. The prophetic tradition of the Bible insists we should care enough for all the people of the world that we expect and work for leaders who act as good shepherds. Good shepherds care especially for the vulnerable who often have no one else to watch out for them. That’s government’s role, even more so when the government is “of the people, for the people and by the people.” Christians—real Christians—care enough to make sure our President works to be a good shepherd for all the people.