November 2, 2006

Political Attack Ads

Pastor Brent Beasley has a great column today at Ethics Daily about those dirty negative political ads that are running in many election races. The piece is entitled “Zero Tolerance for Political Attack Ads.” And that is exactly what his point is—Christians should have zero tolerance for these shameful ads. Here a few highlights:

I have an idea; tell me what you think. Christians have become known for taking strong stands on certain political issues in political campaigns. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps we should take a break from advocating specific issues and focus instead on taking a strong stand on the methods by which politicians campaign. In other words, instead of focusing only on the ends, maybe we should take a look at the means.

What if all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus ... said something like this: “We’re not going to put up with sleazy campaigning. We don’t care if we do agree with you on certain issues; we’re not going to stand for telling half-truths and lies about other people. We’re not going to support you if you engage in character assassination. We’re not going to allow you to fuel division with misleading ‘us and them’ rhetoric. We will not vote for you if you treat your opponent like dirt.”

What impact would it have on campaigns if candidates knew that in order to get the “Christian vote” they would be held accountable, not just for their positions on issues, but for how they conduct their campaign and treated their opponent?

... Jesus had a lot more to say about how we treat other people than he did about the hot-button moral issues of the day that many Christians seem to be solely focused on. For Jesus, the ends never justify the means.
Amen! We need more Christians to take a stand like this. Let us vote only for the candidates willing to play clean and fair. If you lie, we will not vote for you. If you twist the facts or try to mislead us, we will not vote for you. If you resort to unethical attacks, we will not vote for you. That could sure shake up politics!

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:17 AM

    Absolutely right! Of course, this narrows the field considerably.

    Just after the 2004 election cycle I had a discussion with my "Conservative Christian" family on the topic. I said that none of the candidates BEHAVED as one would expect from a Christian, regardless of who they claim to be or what they claim to stand for. I said that as a Christian, when I went to the polls and asked myself "who would Jesus vote for?", the answer always comes back "None of these". I mentioned that the concept of the "Religious Right" or "Conservative Christian" baffled me (as would the linking - by Christians themselves - of Christianity to ANY political party) because it seemed plain to me that these parties are pursuing POLITICAL goals, not those of religion. I talked about all the fear-mongering being used (especially by the right) for political gain, tempting and encouraging us to go directly against God's orders to fear only Him.

    I was promptly told "Judge not" about the candidates/parties (wait a minute - don't I HAVE to exercise judgment in order to choose one candidate over another) and "I vote my conscience - don't tell me how to vote" (which is why I waited until AFTER the election cycle to bring up the discussion).

    I replied that I vote my conscience too, which means that I have not been able to vote for any candidate that I thought had the remotest chance of winning, and wondered if it's a good idea as a Christian to vote at all. The Bible seems to be more focused on showing us how to live in this world regardless of the political climate than how to force our will on others through politics.

    So many Christians seem to want to use politics as a blunt instrument to control the behavior of others. We want to be the first to "throw stones" at gays who want to be legally married or "illegals" who want to enjoy the America's benefits without "earning" them the way we did (by being born here, I suppose). We want to judge Saddam or Chavez or Osama, condemning them as Evil men, in what seems to me like an attempt to deny God's ability to redeem ANY sinner, or exclusive right to judge.

    Some of us even express the desire to "hasten the second coming of Christ" by the use of "wars and rumors of wars" in the Middle East, ignoring the fact that Christ Himself said that he does not know the day of the second coming, only the Father knows this (so how could we mere humans influence the timing of this event?).

    In my opinion, politics can only distract us from our mission and encourage us to behave in sinful ways. Instead, we should take the Bible's advice and concern ourselves with OUR OWN behavior.

    What do you think?

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  2. Thanks for the comment and sharing your thoughts. I agree that we need to focus on more important things than politics—mainly sharing the love of Jesus.

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