I heard a report today that former Arkansas Governor, Baptist minister and GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee spoke to a group of conservative evangelical pastors today about how to become politicians. His goal is to raise an army of political candidates who will be able to clarify and represent “Christian values.”
Seems like we’ve heard this story before. Back in the 1970’s at the very moment that we had a born again Christian, Sunday School teaching Washington outsider in the White House (Jimmy Carter), the religious right organized themselves around Jerry Fawell and his “Moral Majority” whipping up the politics of division with indignation over wedge issues like abortion rights and the place of prayer in public schools. All through the Reagan era the like of Pat Robertson, Pat Boone and Pat Buchanan beat the drum of “family values.”
At best, I think this is another case of earnest, well meaning believers being used and taken advantage of for political leverage by oligarchs, ideologues, and opportunists. Posturing and pandering for power and privilege. At worst, it is the perennial ploys of shameless shills and charlatans.
Huckabee & his disciples claimed that “Christian values” included traditional marriage and the prevention of deficit spending.
Here’s what I believe true Biblical values are: What does God require of you? At justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8). Love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27). Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you (Matt.5:43), forgiveness, don’t judge or condemn others (Matt.7), encourage, build, community, share, sacrifice, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:21-24), selflessness, being supportive, trusting and hopeful (1 Corinthians 13). Being willing to lay down your life for someone. Being Christ-like and exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit as your character- these are values worth having.
I hate to say it, but I’ve seen secularists, atheists, Muslims and homosexuals who are far more humble, far more committed to justice, and far more merciful than many evangelicals.
Anger, fear, outrage, smugness, superiority, wealth, ambition, competition, privilege, gun rights, avoidance of regulation and supervision, tax evasion, racism, sexism, homophobia? violating the First, Fourth, Fifth, or Fourteenth Amendment rights all in the name of protecting your own First Amendment rights? None of these are Biblical values. Whoever you are and whatever you believe, please don’t ever conflate the “values” of some conservative evangelicals with those actually taught by Jesus Christ or the Jewish & Christian Bible. And no matter who you are or what your political leanings, please, please don’t conflate American social or political “conservationism” for Christianity.
“Then Jesus said to all the people (in Luke 9:23) : If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.”
Ask yourself, how many of Huckabee’s troops in the new “culture war” are willing to give up control of government, party and culture in order to help feed the poor, heal the sick, free the oppressed, visit prisoners, and care for widows and orphans? Will they turn the other cheek? Go the extra mile? Give people the shirt off their back? If they do, then you know they’re genuinely following Jesus Christ. If on the other hand, they’re wearing designer suits and asking for donations so they can buy a plane- probably not.
Which displays Christ’s values, fighting to root out systemic racism in our institutions, or fighting to help petroleum corporations keep their tax loopholes? Allowing gay domestic partners to have medical, legal and financial status when their spouse dies, or fighting to prevent semiautomatic weapons from being regulated? Fighting to protect the environment and reduce or reverse global warming, or fighting to deport people who’ve lived in this country for decades after their parents brought them here as children?
I’m not claiming that Jesus is a registered Democrat or that fundamentalist pastors shouldn’t be allowed to run for office. But I am saying that anyone who thinks that the “Christian values” are the ones you’ll see proposed by Super Pacs, the Heritage Foundation, ALEC, or FOX News doesn’t know either Jesus or Scripture very well.