Country First?

September 03, 2008

The second evening of the Republican National Convention featured an odd mixture of religion and politics. As Christian musician Rachel Lampa sang two devotional songs about God, delegates danced and held up McCain campaign signs declaring "Country First." Additionally, Lampa sang in front of a video of a huge American flag waving--so large that each stripe seemed taller than she. As a result, it looked like the delegates were not even listening to Lampa's song. She was singing about how God will catch her when she falls and that she is blessed because of God, and the delegates seem to think it was a celebration of putting America first ahead of all else. No message could be further from that of the One Lampa sang about. As Jesus taught, we must put God first and we are to love all the people of the world.

Some commentators have claimed that Lampa's appearance proves that the Republican Party is focused on the concerns of evangelical Christians. However, if evangelicals were really paying attention, they would have noticed that the large flag and the campaign signs showed that Lampa was merely being used. We should not applaud our faith being used as political entertainment. The Democrats similarly trotted out evangelicals last week in hopes of gaining more votes. The question is why do we fall for it? Why do we get excited when politicians act like they care about us when it instead seems they are merely using our faith for political gain. As I wrote in a Columbia Missourian column earlier this year:

Christian musician Derek Webb warns in a song that we will not find "a Savior on Capitol Hill." Although Christians should work to impact society for the better, we should not place our faith and trust in a specific politician or political party. We are saved by grace, not legislation. Our hope lies in Jesus, not the ballot box.
Hopefully, all of the Christian leaders attending the Democratic or Republican conventions will not allow their focus on the gospel to be sidetracked.