Religion and Politics

It is still a long way from November 2012, but in the race for the Whitehouse we are rounding the curve in the final stretch.  President Obama is sure to be the Democratic presidential nominee, but the Republican nominee is yet to be decided.  In the current field of GOP candidates the leader of the pack has bounced from one to the other more than the ball in a pinball machine.

Herman Cain who once held the lead has dropped out amid past claims of sexual harassment.  Michele Bachmann ended her candidacy for the GOP nomination after a poor showing in Iowa.  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty bowed out over poor ratings before the Iowa caucus.  So the field of nine has narrowed to six, in alphabetical order they are: Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum.

Mitt Romney has been at or near the top of the GOP field in a most polls throughout the race for the Republican nomination.  Barely winning in Iowa, but a win nonetheless, he headed into the New Hampshire primary a favorite and did indeed win by a handy margin.  It appears the leaders of the Republican Party are beginning to coalesce behind the Romney candidacy as they head into the South Carolina primary.

The prospect of a Mormon candidate as the Republican nominee leaves some conservative evangelical leaders a little antsy.  One attempt to gather conservative evangelical leaders behind a common other-than-Romney candidate has already been attempted, but with little success.  Conservative evangelical endorsements are beginning to hit the news with increasing frequency in what appears to be an attempt to thwart a Romney nomination.

Newt Gingrich has recently received the endorsement of Tim LaHaye, the well-known author of the Left Behind series of books about the tribulation period described in the book of Revelation.  But Gingrich placed fourth in Iowa and New Hampshire.  Unless he does well in the South Carolina primary he may get “left behind.”

Jon Huntsman has garnered some political and newspaper endorsements, but as far as I know he has not received a single conservative evangelical endorsement.  Being a Mormon, he is unlikely to get any.  A no-show in Iowa and third place in New Hampshire may take him out of the hunt if he falls short in South Carolina.

Ron Paul was third in Iowa and a distant second in New Hampshire, but has received a strong endorsement headed into the South Carolina primary.  Dr. James Linzey, retired military chaplain and president and founder of the Military Bible Association, has given his hearty support to Ron Paul.  Linzey said that after examining Paul’s political philosophy and record he believes Paul to be “100% in line with the Constitution of the United States” and after studying Paul’s statement of faith and faith experience Paul “is 100% compatible with Evangelical Christianity and Orthodox Christianity.”  Right now Paul needs all the evangelical help he can get.

Rick Perry finished fifth in Iowa and was a no-show in New Hampshire.  Dr. Robert Jeffress who is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, Perry’s home state, has endorsed him.  But Perry almost threw in the towel after Iowa, and despite the endorsement of Jeffress, a poor showing in South Carolina will probably send him back to Texas.

Rick Santorum finished second in Iowa, just eight votes behind Romney, but was a dismal fifth in New Hampshire.  Santorum had received the support of Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent evangelical leader in Iowa.  But that endorsement has come under fire.  There seems to be some controversy as to whether or not Plaats’ endorsement was for sale.

Billy Graham had been an ardent supporter of President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal.  He believed Nixon, who said in a televised statement “I’m not a crook.”  But as the events unfolded it became increasingly apparent that Nixon had lied.  When Nixon resigned the Presidency his guilt was clear.  After that experience, Graham’s support consisted in giving requested advice and prayer.

I do not make political endorsements and think it is foolhardy for any Christian leader to do so.  Politicians cannot be trusted nor can they save us.  That is why religion and politics do not and should not mix.  In the final analysis “The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes (Proverbs 21:1).”  Government does not have the last say.  It is not who occupies the Whitehouse that matters, but He who sits on the throne.

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