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These two benedictions give us two very different views of faith. For I have met people who’s faith view, that being a Democrat (and worse a possible supporter of Obama) and a Christian were antithetical – the Republican benediction alludes to this. The difficulty of finding “open minded” Christians who even admit to the possibility that a person can be a Democrat and a faithful Christian leaves me frustrated.
Let me be clear, in this post. I am not endorsing any candidate, I believe both major party candidates are qualified to be president. It is my view that pastors are called to speak to values, challenge assumptions, and encourage their parishioners to make up their own minds about politics. However, I am speaking out about the perception (as stated in this week’s Speaking of Faith program) that “…if you are religious then you must be a conservative.”
The Democratic Party, in my view, has better exemplified the teaching of Jesus found in Matthew 25:44-45 (NRSV):
44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’
Whenever anyone starts quizzing me about my relationship to Jesus (because I am a democrat) , my mind reflected to all the times in my 20 years plus of pastoral ministry that I had ministered to the people talked about in the verses above. I also began to question the hubris people who have reduced Christianity to a series of propositional statements instead of a faith that calls one to practice “another way of living.” For Jesus also states in Matthew 7:21 (NRSV)

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

I believe Jesus calls us to love and accept one another and to exemplify our faith through words and deeds. I am proud to have friends who are of all political persuasions. It is much healthier, in my opinion, to engage in open, honest, loving dialogues with those who differ from you…it is the best way to grow! I need to be clear though, whenever we as Christians begin to “judge” one another based on other standards then those found in the New Testament - then we are in danger of diminishing the faith. The worst case of this is in when I find someone who insists that Barak Obama is secretly a Muslim and not a real Christian (he is giving a false confession. I find such talk shocking and can only conclude that the prejudice, hatred, and ignorance found in such a statement to be a result of a heart that is far from Jesus. Obama and McCain have spoke eloquently of their faith and it saddens me to see such bigotry on display.