Thursday, 22 November 2007


The following is an excerpt from the Sojourners: Faith, Politics and Culture website. In it, Sojourners CEO Jim Wallis comments on the bizarre move made by conservative Christian Coalition preacher Pat Robertson to endorse Republican presidential nominee Rudy Giuliani.
“ Pat Robertson's endorsement of Rudy Giuliani for president is simply astonishing. Robertson - the television preacher who founded the 700 Club and once ran for president himself - has made opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage his political north star and has been a relentless champion of traditional marriage and family values.
“Remember Robertson's merciless attacks on President Bill Clinton's lapses of sexual morality with Monica Lewinsky? Or his comments about how the 9/11 attacks were the result of America's tolerance for homosexuals and abortion?
“Now Robertson is for Rudy, a thrice-married adulterous husband, who is estranged from his own children and is both pro-choice and pro-gay rights. According to Robertson's twisted moral logic, forgiving the social conservative shortcomings of Republicans is a Christian virtue, so long as the same virtue is never applied to Democrats. But Pat thinks Rudy can beat Hillary, and Pat really cares about winning for the Republicans.
“What exactly goes on in Pat Robertson's head has puzzled many of us for a long time. This endorsement ranks as one of the most unprincipled in recent political memory. Maybe principles never mattered much to Pat Robertson after all. Perhaps the pro-business economic conservatism of the Republican Party was always more important to the televangelist than saving unborn lives. Robertson's long-standing support of murderous Liberian dictator Charles Taylor, and his diamond investments thanks to Zairian dictator Mobutu Sese Seko speak louder than words when it comes to Robertson's ethic of life. And that's not to mention the more than $400 million Robertson's empire made when he sold his International Family Network to Rupert Murdoch, after building it on tax-deductible contributions of thousands of CBN donors, many of modest means. He has put profits over principles for years.
“Richard Land, spokesman for the Southern Baptist Convention, has taken a more consistent position. Land has clearly said that he won't support Giuliani if he becomes the Republican nominee, explaining, ‘I'm not willing or able to violate my moral conscience. It would be like asking an African American to choose between Strom Thurmond and George Wallace, or asking Abe Lincoln to vote for a pro-slavery candidate. I personally can't do it.’
“Land predicts that many social conservatives will just sit out this election if the Republicans decide to run Rudy. That's called standing for principle. Pat Robertson clearly has taken another position. His endorsement of Rudy Giuliani will seem to many to be unprincipled hypocrisy.” see
It did not come as any surprise to me that all of Pat Robertson’s posturing about family values was a put-on, designed to hide the fact he has a radical right-wing agenda and will happily manipulate the Christian vote in order to keep the Republicans in power. What does disappoint me is that I fear so many Christian voters simply will not think through the issue for themselves– Robertson’s endorsement will be enough for them. They’ll go blindly to the polls comfortable in the knowledge that someone else has done the “hard yards” of thinking through the election issues. They’ll vote Republican because that’s what good Christian voters do.
While things aren’t as bad as that in Australia, I fear many Christians simply do the same thing. They get the “Christian Values Checklist” put out by the Christian Democratic Party and, without really asking whether or not they agree with Fred Nile’s stance on school prayer and abortion, are just happy someone else has done the thinking for them, and they don’t need to bother.
It also worries me that Christians don’t seem to be aware of when their vote is being manipulated. Anyone who knows me knows that The West Wing is my favourite show. In Season Six, the Republican Party makes the unusual decision to run a presidential candidate who is, in fact, an atheist. This character, called Arnie Vinnick, is played by Alan Alda. Worried he will estrange the evangelical right if he does not profess some kind of faith, Vinnick’s advisors pressure him into attending a church service. After much soul-searching, Vinnick has this to say: “If you demand expressions of faith from your political leaders then you are just asking to be lied to...and it will be the easiest lie they’ve ever told”.

Twice during this election I’ve heard pastors banging on about “godly leadership” and choosing a prime minister based on whether or not they’re “godly men”. I hope for their own sake they are—but this will not influence my vote. Checklists may be useful in gaining a general picture of where parties stand on various issue, but at the end of the day if we vote based on a simplistic list we are just asking someone else to do the thinking for us. I hope we would vote based on our convictions, whatever they may be, after thinking good and hard about what sort of country we want Australia to be in the next four years.

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