The Religious Right: Not God’s Servant!
Posted by Job on October 28, 2008
I read media reports about this story of the fearmongering that religious right activists are engaging in to get John McCain and Sarah Palin in the White House, but was hindered from immediately addressing it. It is just as well, because PJ Miller did a better job discussing it than I could have. So, let me just add to her post with another angle … actually a political one.
Bible readers have been shocked by the great praise that the book of Isaiah heaps on King Darius of the Medo – Persians, calling him God’s servant. Why? Because this Darius was a pagan who never seems to have converted! This should not surprise especially in light of Romans 13. In that passage, the Bible refers to civil government as a gift from God used to do good and restrain evil. In short, civil government is God’s servant through common grace, not special grace, and therefore wise honest effective rulers serve God despite their lack of covenant relationship with Him. So the Bible has record of people in addition to Darius like Egypt’s pharoah, Nebuchadnezzar and Xerxes who whether they ultimately converted or not were God’s servants because they ruled wisely, often by virtue of appointing people like Joseph, Daniel and Mordecai as their chief advisors and administrators.
But make no mistake, to be God’s servant in a civil magistrate position, you have to be a wise, competent, effective and honest ruler. Otherwise, even if you are a Christian, you are not God’s servant in this role. You may be legitimately born again and going to heaven, but if you take on a leadership role that you were not meant for and lack the skills and gifts for, or if you are less than hardworking or principled in this capacity, though you may be God’s servant in the church, you are not in the state. Martin Luther for his part recognized this when he made the statement that he would rather be ruled by a wise Muslim than a foolish Christian. The context of this statement is even more amazing when you consider what Muslims had done to so many Christians in Luther’s time and in times recently prior, a history that Luther was well aware of.
So in this utterly Biblical and very practical context, the Christian right is not acting as God’s servant. First of all, by trying to frighten people into voting for John McCain, they are spreading fear, discord, confusion, and yes bigotry into the country. That means that even if they succeed, McCain will have a much tougher time actually governing this place. And if they fail, then wow these folks have all but stated that they have license to completely reject Obama’s authority and spend the next four years as political (and religious) subversives.
Second, who are their efforts in support of? John McCain. Is there any evidence at all that McCain will be an effective, honest, fair, just and wise ruler? If so, present it. The truth is that nothing in this fellow’s background indicates it, and everything indicates otherwise. We know that in 1998 John McCain basically rejected the political philosophies and alliances that he had spent his first 16 years in Congress cultivating. We know that in 2008, John McCain then repudiated the what he had spent from 1998 to 2008 advocating. And we also know that the John McCain of October is advocating things completely different from the John McCain of February, and that is different still from the John McCain of July. Translation: John McCain either has no philosophical and ideological convictions or he is willing to discard or lie about them in order to gain power. Also, again, John McCain has been in Congress since 1982. In all that time, he has only passed one major piece of legislation: campaign finance reform. The guy is a back bencher, relegated to the minor Commerce Committee (not to be confused with the actually important banking and finance) and even there did nothing that anyone can recognize but gain a network of cronies that he would later exploit for fundraising purposes. He has not only never been a leader in the Senate, he has never even been a team player. That is why his claim to fame was his being a “maverick”, or in other words undermining his colleagues for the past 10 years.
So basically, Christians are resorting to these tactics to elect a man that they know has nothing to show for his long political career, has no loyalties to anyone other than himself, no convictions other than his own personal advancement, has no leadership skills, and no cooperative or collaborative skills. Again, this is something that McCain has repeatedly demonstrated over the past 26 years. So this is the guy that they are willing to spread fear, hate, and division to get into office? The proper Biblical stance towards this election should be to support NEITHER McCain NOR Obama and pray for EITHER should they be elected. Yet the next religious right leader that you hear say such a thing would be the first. (Ironically the pastor of Sarah Palin’s former church put out a statement saying that he planned to do precisely that.)
It is no surprise if they are. After all, these are the guys that got George W. Bush elected and re – elected, and before him did the same for George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan twice. And never forget that the first candidate of the religious right, though not organized as it is today, was none other than Jimmy Carter. And this is not even considering all of the incompetent corrupt immoral people that these folks have fought to get elected to Congress and in our governorships. Take a look at what has gone on since the rise of the religious right in 1980 and especially since their uprisings in 1994, 2000 and 2004. Has Roe versus Wade been overturned? Not a chance and not even close. Has gay rights including gay marriage been successfully opposed? Please. Have our public schools started challenging evolution and environmentalism? No. Are our government policies more pro – family? Not unless homosexuals cohabitating and adopting children counts. This country is more socially and culturally liberal in almost every single area since the rise of the religious right, and what is more the religious right and the churches that are part of it have conformed itself to that liberalism rather than separating itself from it and opposing it.
And that is just things that are superficially related to religion. Have any of the religious right candidates delivered peace either abroad or on our streets? No. Have they brought us economic prosperity? Forget it! Despite conservative rhetoric otherwise, the terms of Reagan, Bush, and Bush II were marked by increased street crime, failed wars and military operations, and disastrous economic policies that include a grotesque national debt, two major banking collapses (one for each Bush) and an obscene level of fraud, corruption and waste from the $400 dollar hammers and toilet seats that government contractors billed us for under Reagan to the outright brazen theft in Iraq and New Orleans.
It is not just the performance, it is also the philosophy. Neoconservatism is not biblical, plain and simple. It exalts the powerful, justifies the unjust, and demonizes the poor, the oppressed, and the innocent victims. Even apart from the Bible, it is just plain bad government policy. Using a Bible example that does not directly relate to doctrine or practice, I recall the wisdom of King Hezekiah who built cisterns and aqueducts so that Jerusalem would have a water supply during the inevitable Assyrian siege. Can you imagine the neoconservatives – again which includes the religious right – doing such a thing? Nope, they would have just cut taxes and given corporate welfare to the olive oil companies and spear manufacturers. (By the way, speaking of which, please note the religious right worship of our military industrial complex and contrast it with God’s command to biblical Israel not to own chariots. Religious right types that claim that America or “the west” is somehow now God’s covenant people need to explain their insistence that America continue its buildup of conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and use said arsenal to compel the rest of the world to do what we want.)
Neoconservatives would never admit it, but things like our railroads, interstate highway system, our public school system and state universities, Hoover Dam, the REA which brought electricity to rural America and other programs which brought power to the western interior, the Manhattan Project, the national laboratories that gave us modern electronics, fabrics, the Internet etc. were all the direct result of government. Private industry developed some of those things, but their primary function was to market and use what the government did, what the taxpayers paid for. Now can you honestly imagine this current crop of neoconservatives supporting sending power lines into Appalachia or the Mississippi Delta or building Hoover Dam, or building the Panama Canal? Please. Those fellows would claim that if the private sector had no interest in it, then it isn’t worth doing. Of course, that seems to be their same attitude towards our crumbling infrastructure like New Orleans’ levees and the collapsing bridges also.
Do not get me wrong. I do not worship the state, nor do I demonize commerce. I take the Biblical view of recognizing that each has its proper role in society according to common grace. Neoconservatism rejects the Biblical view in favor of worshiping private enterprise as the source and standard by which all good things flow and are measured and by demonizing even the possibility of effective civil leadership. Their only program is to cut taxes and then to make up the revenue shortfall by doing things like selling off control of our interstate highways or our ports (again both built with taxpayer money!) to foreign companies and governments!
Again, do not take me for an Obama supporter or adherent to his flavor of Marxism. (Although opponents of Marxism who still support John McCain despite his not only voting for the bailout but being one of the people who led the fight to pass it through the U.S. Senate should explain themselves, again starting with the religious right.) So no, the religious left is not God’s servant either! It is merely particularly galling that the very people who claim to base their political activism to fidelity to sound doctrine and practice based on a literal interpretation of the Bible could be so fundamentally off. Were these fellows running Old Testament Israel in the time of David and Solomon, they would have never built the temple because it would have meant raising taxes. (For that matter, they would have never built the tabernacle either.) Were these fellows running Egypt in Joseph’s time, they would have never consented to setting aside the grain, because it would have represented government seizing private property, and the whole nation would have died. (Please note: this is very similar to how neoconservatives actually defend deficit spending and never even talk about the national debt … again not that the left cares about the national debt either but why should we expect them to since they make no pretense of heeding Biblical inerrancy?)
The religious right shows its departure from scripture by backing not only leaders that they well know will never be wise civil magistrates (foolish whether they be Christians or Turks, and please recall that universalist Skulls and Bones occultist George H. W. Bush and necromancer Ronald Reagan cannot be referred to as Christians in any sense) but a political ideology that is in itself a rejection of the knowledge of God and a high thing that exalts itself against God! All you have to do is listen to these people rant on their talk shows or from their pulpits. You will come away hating impoverished children and widows and being convinced that the life of an Iraqi is so not worth giving 5 seconds of attention to that nearly a million civilian casualties are worth our going to war to give them a political and economic system that they didn’t ask for and that everyone knows will never work (yes, the puppet regime that we are installing in Iraq is destined to fail and everyone knows it)!
And what is the justification for casting in your lot with this apostate movement? It isn’t abortion. The religious right should have known not to trust the GOP the second that Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor. Reagan had never cared one whit about women’s rights in his long political career, but he puts a woman whose views on abortion are no different from Barack Obama’s because it was SOOO important to have a female Supreme Court judge? Also, it isn’t as if there weren’t TONS of female pro – life judges, legal activists, and legal scholars. Reagan could have nominated a Phyllis Schafly and not skipped a beat! Why didn’t he? Because Reagan was pro – abortion just like George H. W. Bush is pro – abortion and George W. Bush is pro – abortion. The only difference is that where the Bushes have repeatedly publicly stated that they support Roe v. Wade, Reagan lied about it. But check his record going back to California; it speaks otherwise.
So if it isn’t abortion or any of those other social issues (again, please note how our nation and culture have moved so far to the left legally on those social issues despite – or maybe because of? – our courts stacked with Nixon, Reagan, Bush, and Bush appointees including the Reagan and Nixon judges that give the radical social left victory after victory in California!) then what is it about? Again, it is obviously not about honest, wise, fair leadership, and it is certainly not about preserving a nation founded on Christian principles. No, it is about power, and so long as they get their people running this nation, they could care less what their people do to it and to its people (or for that matter to other nations and people). This is precisely the opposite of what the Bible calls for, and the best evidence that the religious right is not God’s servant and therefore no different from the religious left at all. Both are two sides of the same anti – Christ coin.