Monday, October 27, 2008

Focus on the Fear-mily

Last week, Focus on the Family's political action wing, Focus on the Family Action, published a letter trying to describe what life for Christians would be like in 2012 under an Obama administration. From the WorldNetDaily summary, here are some predicted aspects:
  • Six liberal justices sit on the Supreme Court after the immediate resignation of John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the later resignations of Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy.

  • Homosexual marriage has been ruled a constitutional right that must be respected by all 50 states.

  • The Boy Scouts have disbanded rather than obey a decision forcing them to allow homosexual scoutmasters. (The Scouts already had been kicked out of public facilities because of an expansion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to cover people who engage in homosexual behavior.)

  • Elementary schools have compulsory training in varieties of gender identity. Courts rule parents cannot opt out their children, because the training is deemed essential to psychological health.

  • Evangelical and Catholic adoption agencies cease to exist after the Supreme Court rules they must agree to place children with homosexuals or lose their licenses.

  • Church buildings are now considered a "public accommodation" by the United States Supreme Court, and churches have no freedom to refuse to allow their buildings to be used for wedding ceremonies for homosexual couples.

  • High schools are no longer free to allow "see you at the pole" meetings where students pray together or any student Bible studies even before or after school.

  • The Supreme Court barred public schools in all 50 states from allowing churches to rent their facilities, even on Sundays, when school was not in session.

  • Obama signed the Freedom of Choice Act, as he promised the Planned Parenthood Action Fund last year, nullifying hundreds of state laws that had created even the slightest barrier to abortion.

  • The Supreme Court in 2011 nullified all Federal Communications Commission restrictions on obscene speech or visual content in radio and TV broadcasts, and television programs at all hours of the day now contain explicit portrayals of sexual acts.

  • As a result of a reversal of its 5-4 decision in the D.C. gun-ownership case, it is now illegal for private citizens to own guns for self-defense in eight states, and the number is growing with increasing Democratic control of state legislatures and governorships

  • Parents' freedom to teach their children at home has been severely restricted nationwide after the Supreme Court followed the legal reasoning of a Feb. 28, 2008, ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in California.
Obviously this is aimed at getting conservative Christian voters out there, primarily through fear.

And I think this is absolutely sad. Pathetic.

Look, I don't mind people being for or against either candidate. But if you're going to have legitimate conversations about it, this kind of fear-based politicking says some really sad things about it.

1) And I've said this before, this shows a complete lack of faith in John McCain. They don't think he's a strong enough candidate to beat Obama so they have to attack Obama.

2) They think (probably with good measure) that many conservative Christians are susceptible to this kind of "reasoning" and so they can describe basically an evangelical Christian Hell and believe that people will respond to that. To me, that shows that Christians are more susceptible to fear rather than faith.

You see, because if you truly believe that Obama is misguided or evil or whatever and would be bad for America, I can understand that.

But

It

Doesn't

Matter.

America is NOT God's chosen country. The United States does not have the monopoly on what it means to be a Christian. In fact, many of the ways that the US has achieved what it has achieved is directly counter to the teachings of Jesus: Turn the other cheek, love our enemies, sell everything we have and give to the poor, do to the least of these our brothers and sisters? Killing native Americans, enslaving African Americans, ignoring the plight of the poor is not being a Christian nation. It's being a nation that achieves its kingdom by means of this world. It's being of this world. Am I grateful to live in America where I get to enjoy the freedoms that I have and the luxuries that I have? Absolutely. Do I tie those freedoms and luxuries to believing that God has blessed me more than those who don't have what I have? If I do, I'm an idiot, a moron, a fool.

God is going to continue the work of bringing about salvation to this world whether John McCain or Barack Obama or whoever is president. Followers of Jesus should not succumb to fear tactics, whether from the right about what this nation would look like 4 years from now under Obama or from the left about McCain being Bush 2: The Bushening.

What we should be concerned about is how we can partner with God through Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about His work and purposes in this world. And none of that is tied to who gets elected president.

23 comments:

Greg S. said...

This is pretty sad, but does not surprise me at all. I was religious up until College, when I felt I had "learned" beyond Christianity. There was so much more out there than this one concept of God. So, I separated myself from the Church. And to be quite honest, I am still very happy that I did. It allowed me to open my eyes to so many other things, as well as affirm some of the beliefs that I all ready had. I always believed abortion was the woman's choice. I never felt that I could judge someone based on sexual orientation. And as far as other religions went, I had always questioned my church, because I was always told Christianity was the only true path to Heaven. Even when I "believed", I still couldn't agree with this.
Phil, you are right about these fear tactics. Neither party should go there. Obviously, McCain supporters are desperate at this point. My only hope is that there are more level headed Christians like yourself out there that don't become persuaded by this nonsense....

Mike L. said...

"Voice or no
voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.
That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked,
and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger. It works the same in any country."
- Hermann Goering (2nd in command to Adolf Hitler)

Christians know that fear works. We've been using it in our churches for centuries.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I respect the fact that you perceive it as fear that the conservatives are using to drive people to the poles, but friend it's the same from the liberal perspective. They tell citizens that if Obama isn't elected, their checks will stop and the economy will tank further. That their abortions will have to stop and the poor will have to suffer indefinately. That wars will never end and extreme religious zealots will take over the white house.

It's happening from both sides.
I stopped listening to James Dobson a long time ago because I believe he uses his influences for negative purposes.

But in all fairness, I don't have to listen to anyone else to be afraid of Barack Obama. I only have to listen to his own words to be frightened.
Ada

Phil said...

Ada, I appreciate your perspective too. If you'll notice, I did mention the fear tactics that the left uses on John McCain although certainly not the depth that I did (and have done) with the right.

And Mike, I agree with you too: the church knows fear tactics very well.

Suzie said...

I would say McCain/Palin play to fear and Obama/Biden play to helplessness.

RTR said...

"The United States does not have the monopoly on what it means to be a Christian."

NO - that can't be true! Say it's not true! Seriously!

Chris said...

What else can one conclude from Obama's 2001 interview that has played over and over today, but that he considers the Constitution outdated and in the way of reforms he would like?

Phil said...

What video, Chris?

GingerSnaps said...

GREAT post, Phil. I couldn't agree more.

As a Christian, I do not fear an Obama presidency any more than I do a McCain one.

I've never seen so much fear mongering in my life. It's pathetic, really.

Anonymous said...

Here is the link to the audio Chris alluded to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iivL4c_3pck

Keep in mind, it's not a conservative making the claims. It's Obama himself making it clear. Like I said earlier, the right doesn't have to scare me about Obama. Obama does a good job of it himself. I actually considered voting for him in the primaries, but more and more stuff keeps being discovered about him. And it's not just rumors. It's Obama in his own words and also discoveries that can be easily verified. I do in fact fear what may still discovered about him. It's obvious the plans Obama has for our country. I don't agree with any of them.
I'm so concerned with the people who are so "FOR" Obama and refuse to see what he really stands for. God help us if he does in deed become President.
Ada B.

Brandon Scott said...

Ada, though I don't know you, your rhetoric sounds just like Dobson. "God help us if he does indeed become President".

I am so tired of all of this. And...Mike is RIGHT ON THE MONEY. I think that's why this whole thing has crawled all over me so intensely. This election seems to have brought to light some of the ugliest parts of "evangelicals" that we all knew were there and really detested...but now, with production value only to be equaled by High School Musical 3, these types of fear mongerings have been thrust into the public with bright neon lights, stirring musical scores (like a ridiculous youtube video I was sent yesterday) and email forwards suggesting that a vote for McCain is a vote for God himself.

Neither Obama or McCain bothers me NEARLY as much as the evangelicals have in this election. It is a very sad time for us. Very sad indeed. Whatever impression "outsiders" had of us has been cemented and super glued.

No matter who wins the Presidency, God will need to bless them and their cabinet. But more than that...we've now got a major boat load of work to do at the grass-roots level to undo with our non-Christian and seeking friends what Dobson and other evangelical organizations have done over the last 12 months.

Don't believe me? Get out of your church world for a while and sincerely ask what those outside our church walls think of how Christians have handled this election process. I get an ear-full all the time.

Brandon Scott said...

PS: As you can tell I feel strongly about these things. :) Thanks for giving us a forum to openly discuss and vent, Phil. Ultimately, there's something that ties all of us together that is so FAR beyond politics.

Anonymous said...

No Brandon. You don't know me. But thanks and how kind of you for calling me as bad as Dobson for expressing my concern. Throwing in a smiley face after expressing your passionate view doesn't make it right, less harsh, or more Christian.

I'm just a follower trying to figure all this out. Guess I'll learn to keep my concerns to myself. God bless us all.
Ada B.

Robert Gonzalez said...

Very well described. This election has, at times, left me feeling embarrassed to be Christian, conservative and at times even American. Fear is a terrible tool to use to try to convince anyone that your way is the best. In my opinion the two leading candidate both suck eggs and don't deserve any of our votes. What's worse is that so many people are of the mindset that a vote for another candidate is a wasted vote because the other candidates "don't have a chance to win". Frankly I cannot vote for either McCain or Obama given their ideals and their methods of campaigning. I am so put off by both the Democratic and Republican party from this election that I may very well end up leaving my current camp for something more independent. Regardless of the direction I take, I am saddened by the tactics used by many of the people and organizations in this election. I cannot wait until November 5.

Brandon Scott said...

Ada,
I merely said that your rhetoric sounded like Dobson in using the whole "God help us if.." stuff. I read back and could see what you meant. My passionate comments were not directed at you, though it may have read that way..but to the larger group of evangelicals (as stated) who are leaving an impression that is truly damaging. I don't know where you are in that and wasn't neccessarily lumping you in. We're ALL guilty by association, for that matter... Which i was alluding to al the end. I do not, however, apologize for my criticism of evangelicals in this election. It is deserved. And that's my opinion. Forgive the smiley face too. He's'a stubborn little booger!

Anonymous said...

Those are some hefty predictions. I think we should save them and check again in 4 (or 8) years and see how many of them have any bearing on reality (my bets are on none).

Speaking of reality, these guys seem to have suffered in the past 8 years (though, unlike Dobson's crowd, I don't recall that they predicted such): http://www.wassup08.com/index.html

Justin said...

Brandon,

Just to be fair, I've heard plenty of people say things similar to the "God help us if he becomes president" except about McCain. And, again, they are evangelical christians too. Go figure. All one needs to do is check out the comment sections at sojourners to see that switching from a christian right to a christian left is not changing the inherent make up of the person. People are just as immature, just as black and white, just as ready to force their views on others. Maybe we as evangelicals should focus on changing who we are, rather than which political party we support.

I like what Claiborne has to say about all this. Its much more important who we are on Novemeber 3rd and 5th than who we vote for on November 4th. Lots of folks in my generation are reading Claiborne, and being led to guys like Hauerwas, Yoder, Bruggeman, etc and are feeling called towards living a radical life and a new politic rather than getting caught up in the same old "we are the good guys" nonsense that we hear from major party politicians. Truth is, Obama or McCain, they are all the same. They seek power, they think that they can fix things, they think they alone are worthy to use force to make things ok (whether its the war in iraq, or confiscating the earnings of those who provide the vast majority of us with employment and goods and services).

Some trust in chariots, some in horses

Some in Obama, some in McCain

Some in crony capitalism, some in leftist socialism

Some in tyranny, some in "democracy"

But we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

Brandon Scott said...

True dat

greg said...

Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies!
Rivers and seas boiling!
Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes!
The dead rising from the grave!
Human sacrifice!
Dogs and cats living together!
Mass hysteria!

Eli MF Cash said...

tru dat dawg

Adam said...

Greg,
Dude, you just rocked it out with a Ghostbusters 2 reference. How awesome are you?
AE

Jim Voorhies said...

So much fear over "redistribution of wealth." There is no such thing as a free lunch. You pay for it one way or another.

The services we expect our governments to provide have to be paid for somehow and the cost of providing those services continues to go up every year, just as our living expenses do. Sure, there are inefficiencies in government that could be reduced, but the differences they would make pale in comparison to the need for more money to pay for services that have been put off because nobody wants to pay for them.

Bridges that actually go somewhere and are unsafe to use and roads and transportation needs, the basic infrastructure of this nation, need hundreds of billions poured into them before more bridges colapse and more die. The economic rebuilding necessary to bring the country out of the recession we are hin and the depression we may reach has to have the infrastructure up and working to succeed. We have to pay for it.

Adam said...

In contrast to the current practice of political campaigns, I would like to correct some misinformation that I have helped spread. Greg's quote was from the first Ghostbusters movie, not Ghostbusters 2.

I'm Adam Ellis, and I approve this message.

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