Biblical Politics

Someone left a handwritten note on my windshield this morning, the day before the 2012 election.  It was apparently a response to the collection of bumper stickers on my car.  One of those which has been there quite some time says “Another United Methodist for Peace and Justice” and has the cross and flame symbol of our denomination.  More recently I have added bumper stickers supporting President Obama and Ohio Senator Brown and a state issue to make the way we draw congressional districts in Ohio less partisan.  The note on my windshield said, “Christian, Should you Not vote the BIBLE?”

I can guess which parts of the Bible my anonymous critic reads and does not read.  Robert Jewett in his book, The Captain America Complex has a very helpful discussion of the two major streams of thought, both Biblical, which explain the widening divide and lack of communication and tolerance in our politics and theology.  The first he calls “zealous nationalism” which has had great influence on American self-understanding with its emphasis on prosperity and individual salvation as the primary goals of Christianity.  Christians who prefer that Biblical focus devote much of their attention to the Gospel of John, the epistles and the book of Revelation.  The other equally Biblical path Jewett calls “prophetic realism” with a greater emphasis on social justice and concern for the marginalized and powerless members of society.  That is a primary theme of the Hebrew prophets and Jesus himself in the synoptic gospels, and it is a major reason Biblical Christians can and do view the world and politics differently.

With election day only hours away I am praying that great divide does not create a rerun of 2000’s Florida debacle.  That’s why I am urging my friends in Ohio and other swing states especially to get out the vote for President Obama.  For many reasons I believe the President is more likely to advocate for policies more in keeping with the more tolerant, inclusive and universal values of Jesus and the Prophets.  Beyond the fact that the economy is improving and it would be foolish to return to the Bush-Cheney policies that created the recession, President Obama is the better candidate for a variety of other very important reasons:  a greater commitment to the environment, women’s rights, gay rights, education, the poor, and scaling back our reliance on military solutions to international conflicts.

We know that no president can solve all the problems we face single-handedly.  But there is one far-reaching effect this election will have for years to come, and that is the makeup of the US Supreme Court.  The current court has given us a $6 billion election controlled by wealthy anonymous donors.  If you agree that money should be spent in better ways to address real problems facing our nation and world, get out and vote for the President and prevent the long-lasting damage a more conservative Supreme Court would create.  Because those justices are appointed for life, your vote is about far more than just the next four years.

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