October 10, 2008

The Christian Century has a good piece critiquing our presidential candidates for using falsehoods in attack ads. Here are is a highlight from the column, which is entitled "Untruths":

With deceptive ads and other methods, political campaigns regularly violate the commandment against bearing false witness. The Ten Commandments as a whole recognize that there are multiple ways to destroy another person: one way is by physical murder, and another way is by slander. Calvin said that whoever bears false witness against or slanders his neighbor creates war and kills his neighbor. The negative prohibition carries with it positive implications. That's why Luther explained the commandment against bearing false witness this way: "You shall speak the best about your neighbor, in the market, in conversation, and elsewhere, and likewise in court." The prohibition against bearing false witness is designed to secure the well-being of the neighbor and, by extension, the community.
The piece notes that both candidates have claimed to want to put aside traditional partisan politics and yet have engaged in the same deceptive practices they in the past have criticized. Despite this problem, Christian leaders on both sides are declaring their candidate to be the most Christian and biblical choice in the election. But when will truth-telling become one of the values that "values voters" will use to judge candidates?