On Christians and Political Leadership

My conversation with my Christian brother continues here…

You posed these three questions.

  1. Do you believe in Christians running for public office including the highest office in the country?
  2. If you do, would you vote for one? 
  3. What would you expect them to do while in office?

My answers to the above questions are Yes, and No. Let me explain.

YES, if the person running will espouse Christian values and ethics that will benefit ALL THE PEOPLE REGARDLESS OF WHO THEY ARE. IF they will serve ALL THE PEOPLE AND NOT JUST CHRISTIANS, THEN YES. 

NO, AND A BIG NO, if the person running for office is doing so just because he/she is a Christian. If being Christian is the reason they are vying for office, no. If their intention is to only serve Christians and disparage or discriminate against other people, then a BIG FAT NO IS MY VOTE. 

In the event I vote for a Christian, I would expect this Christian leader to SERVE ALL THE PEOPLE. To serve Christians and non-Christians alike. To serve pro-choice and pro-life citizens. To serve gay and straight citizens. To serve Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and atheists alike. To serve the rich, middle class and poor. To serve capitalists, socialists, and communists. To serve Democrats and Republicans and libertarians alike. To serve Black, White, Indian, Coloured, Latino, Asian, and immigrants alike. 

This is challenging for Christians to practice in non-Christian spaces. 

How does a civil marriage officer who is a professing Christian refuse to issue a marriage certificate to a gay couple? Yes, your Christian values conflict with the gay lifestyle but you are working in an amoral place. How do you reconcile your Christian values with non-Christian work environments?

Why does a Christian baker refuse to do business with a gay couple? Does he only do business with straight Christian people? Does he have a sign outside his shop that says, “Not selling to gays”? On the flip side, can gay people demand to be served by people who don’t share their beliefs? I use the words refuse (for Christian) and demand (for gay people) intentionally. 

Last night, I watched the movie, Best of Enemies, featuring Sam Rockwell and Taraji. P. Henson. Sam Rockwell plays a Grand Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan and “professing” Christian who refuses to sell gas (we call it petrol) to negroes. He wants to transfer his kid to a private school because negroes want to join his kid’s school.

His wife asks him, Oh yeah, how we gonna pay for that? I’m workin’ on it, he replies. His wife replies mockingly, it ain’t gonna work until you start sellin’ gas to the other half of Durham. 

At the end of the movie, his business suffers because he renounced his Klan membership, and his white customers had deserted him. The movie ends with a long line of cars lining up to have their cars filled with gas. The negroes saved his business.

The obvious point is this, the consequence of serving Christians only or only those who believe like you as was the case with Sam Rockwell is this, you may eventually go bankrupt because Christians are insufficient in numbers and income to support your business. Or, if you work in public institutions such as the government, and your values conflict with those you serve, you may have to walk away from your job and look for employment elsewhere.

If you work in government or public institutions and you want to influence our culture for good, then you will have to employ your values to the service of all. Again, I repeat this is challenging not only for Christians but also for non-Christians. 

That’s what grace looks like.

Photo by Frederic Köberl on Unsplash