As we approach a new political campaign season, which will culminate in the presidential election of 2012, the Republican Party, lead by self-professed christian conservatives, have begun the process of promoting their potential presidential candidates. Over the past decade, starting with the election of George W. Bush and increasingly gaining momentum thereafter, a trend has emerged whereby national Republican candidates use a religious platform, in order to gain popularity among this nation’s millions of conservative christian voters. As this strategy has proven increasingly effective, it has produced an unintended consequence in the sharing of the so-called “Good News.”
As Republican politicians have successfully employed this moralistic devise, a significant segment of the public at large have begun to perceive the views of these Republican christian conservatives as the National Christian voice. The problem with the preceding, is that their frequently divisive rhetoric does not mirror the character or message of Christ as detailed in The Gospels. Instead, they feature moral judgment as their platform and create a divisiveness between believers and nonbelievers that is not easily reconciled outside of the political sphere.
This rhetoric has the effect of impeding the christian community’s ministerial efforts, as they are increasingly viewed as narrow-minded and cruel by less religious citizens. Thus, while being an effective political strategy, use of extreme language and divisive social positions are a disservice to the business of saving souls.
There are countless examples of self-professed christian conservatives espousing views that the public at large find to be distasteful, dishonest and/or lacking in empathy. For example, Evangelical Pastor and conservative Ted Haggard, who was a spiritual adviser to George W. Bush, was discovered to have carried on a homosexual relationship while simultaneously leading the charge against gay marriage.
Other examples of this phenomena occurred during the recent and various Republican debates. Governor Rick Perry, received instant applause from the overwhelmingly conservative crowd as he asserted his undying support for the death penalty. In the very next debate, Republican candidate Ron Paul received a hearty cheer for asserting his proposition that an uninsured middle-aged man should be allowed to perish if he were to become gravely ill and had not been prudent enough to purchase health insurance. This rhetorical death sentence is the stated position of an alarming amount of Republican conservatives.
Recently, at a Personhood USA ‘tele-town hall,’ candidates Perry, Gingrich, Bachmann, and Santorum committed to banning all abortion, even in cases of rape, incest, and threats to a woman’s health. Notwithstanding one’s personal views on abortion, these self-professed Christian politicians once again display a disturbing lack of empathy.
Increasingly often, nonbelievers roll their eyes as a Christian begins to share his genuine belief in the love of Christ. This skepticism has its basis, in part, on the opportunistic and disingenuous politicians and their supporters, who distort the message of the bible for their own advancement.
In the end, it is the responsibility of the Christian community to be more vocal in challenging the tenor of public officials who use their lingo but distort their faith. The Christian community cannot allow their faith to be hijacked by those who seek to use it opportunistically. The Republican Party is not synonymous with Christianity.