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March 6th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

My Take: Who would Jesus vote for?

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation and author of “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.” You can follow him on Twitter @larrytaunton.

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Jesus isn’t up for re-election this year. He’s an uncontested incumbent of sorts.

But that hasn’t stopped presidential candidates from claiming his endorsement and hoping to ride his royal robe into the White House. They invoke his name to summon votes the way his Apostles once used it to make the lame walk and the blind see. They try to, anyway.

Presidential candidates strive to convince the public of their unique qualifications for the highest office in the land. They draw sharp comparisons between themselves and their rivals on issues ranging from the Middle East to health care. They do, that is, on every issue but one: the Christian faith.

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There each asserts that he, not his rivals, is the genuine article: Rick Santorum, scrambling to save his flagging campaign, is busy preaching his Christian credentials to evangelicals hoping to secure their money and their votes; Mitt Romney, less successful with that constituency, has nevertheless endeavored to convince them that Mormons are Christians, too; and Barack Obama, not to be left out, boldly stated at last month’s National Prayer Breakfast that his policies are guided by his Christian convictions and are consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Given these claims, we might reasonably wonder whose candidacy the king of kings would endorse. Who would Jesus vote for?

That is a question Jesus’ contemporaries wanted to know, too. Not that there were any Democrats or Republicans at that time (whether that is good or a bad I leave you to decide). But there were plenty of political parties vying for power. Romans, Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes all wanted to know Jesus’ politics. Would he support their agendas, or was he an enemy to be destroyed? Let’s consider the evidence.

Contrary to their Hollywood image, Roman authorities are depicted throughout most of the New Testament as ambivalent to Christianity. Indeed, the first Gentile convert of the new church was a centurion (Acts 10). Shortly thereafter a Roman proconsul also embraced the faith (Acts 13:6-12). It was not until the burning of Rome in A.D. 64 that state-sponsored persecution of Christians began. Before then, Roman authorities were mainly concerned with preserving order in a religiously diverse empire. But when the crowd accused Jesus of treason against Rome - bad politics, so to speak - Pontius Pilate crucified him (John 19:4-16).

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What about the Zealots? Although Scripture says little about them, it is a safe assumption that they were also interested in Jesus’ politics. Violent and embittered by Roman tyranny, the Zealots wanted to overthrow Roman governance of Israel using any and all available means. Was Jesus the conquering Messiah they had long anticipated? When he demonstrated a capacity to woo crowds and perform miracles, some attempted to seize him and make him a king. But Jesus withdrew (John 6:15). Many scholars think that it was, in part, a disappointed Zealotry that incited members of the Jerusalem mob to call for Jesus’ death when they might have asked for his release. Who was released in his place? Pilate gave them Barabbas, a murderer and possibly a Zealot.

As for Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, they are well-documented. Having amputated Judaism from authentic worship of God, they were quick to recognize that Jesus’ message was a threat to their monopoly on power - political as well as religious. When it became clear to them that he would not yield to their authority, they plotted to kill him (John 11:47-53).

So what may we deduce from this about Jesus’ political views? First of all, Jesus was not, as some suggest, indifferent to politics. As the great theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper once observed, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’ ”

Nevertheless, he did not endorse any political platform because he knew that politics are merely a superficial manifestation of the inner man. Hence, it was his practice to address matters of the heart - justice, mercy, love, man’s need for his atoning work - and the eternal consequences that accompany our attitudes toward each. The result was that he condemned elements of every group for their sinfulness and refusal to obey God, while affirming others for their obedience.

Secondly, we learn that Jesus was not seeking political transformation of society, but spiritual transformation. There is a difference. Many evangelicals believe that societal reform is a top-down process: Remove President Barack Obama and frustrate initiatives of the Democratic Party and you’re well on your way.

By contrast, Jesus did not consider Pilate or Tiberius the root of the problem. They were representative of a systemic cultural rot. Wicked people make wicked laws. Change the people, and you change the laws they make.

Finally, Jesus understood that while party affiliation may be an expression of one’s deeply held convictions it does nothing to put you in right standing with God. To lose sight of this, as many on the “religious right” have, is to confuse conversion to a political platform with conversion to Christianity.

To be clear, Christians should exercise their political rights. I exercise mine with relish. But we should never place our hopes in the political process. Hope is found neither in politicians nor in the laws they enact but in Jesus Christ alone.

So who would Jesus vote for? As the executive director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, I cannot legally tell you that.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,019 Responses)
  1. Nick

    @momoya - really?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  2. Rob

    "Who would Jesus vote for"... How pathetic can you get?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  3. Hasa Diga Eebowai

    *************Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God********** that answers that.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • vbscript2

      Yep, it sure does. None of the people running (except maybe Ron Paul.)

      March 6, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Sue

      Actually it is impossible for anyone to enter "the kingdom of god" because neither said kingdom nor its god actually exists.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Robert

      Hasa Diga..... You have fallen victim to a lack of understanding that scripture. Do some historical research and then try to understand. I would just tell you, but I doubt you would listen. So check it out for yourself.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Yes I have a lack of understanding of a book that contains many contradictions and has been cherry picked and translated in its creation.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  4. OldMo

    The puppets at the top of both parties are soulless deceivers so I doubt he'd have anything to do with either of them. He'd probably just go for the candidate in his area that'd cast a vote against killing babies. . .if there was one.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      With 1 in 8 people in the US facing hunger I think yes jesus would care about helping these poor LIVING babies.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • vbscript2

      Hasa, yes, He would. That's why He would be out helping them, rather than forcing someone else to do so.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Out helping people and not standing on the corner with an anti abortion sign.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  5. Sighingman

    I know some people forget things like this but, Jesus wouldn't vote because he isn't American. Some would say his home is all of earth, but laws says he has to be a citizen of the US to vote.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Original Sin

      According to the mormons, after Jesus was crucified he came to America which would make him one of the original founders. He could probably get by as a naturalized citizen but he still wouldn't vote. The laws and governors of our society are temporary while Jesus believed that how we treat each other is eternal.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      @Sighingman; take note and FYI: Other than the colored Native American Indians, Every freak*****g American is a "Settler". Get that. George Bush and his all Repukes irks are mere "settlers" in America.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Tex71

    The author beats around the bush without ever coming straight out and telling it like it is: Jesus was crucified by social conservatives, with the religious extremists in the forefront. You could cast the movie with Santorum as Caiaphas the High Priest, Romney as Pilate the Governor, Gingrich as Herod the sleazy sell-out puppet king, and Ron Paul as Caesar Augustus, or Caesar Salad, or something.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  7. Joel

    Considering how much Jesus spoke with concern for the poor, I think there's a pretty obvious answer here. I'm not aware of any of Jesus' teachings on abortion, gay rights, or guns.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  8. Rod in Texas

    This story is irrelevant because for one, Jesus was born in Israel which make him a non-US citizen therefore ineligible to vote. Secondly, he spoke Hebrew, not English, so he woudln't understand what was going on anyway!.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Dead Wrong!
      Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Fake sunday Christian, know this Basic FACT about Jesus.
      Even Bo Obama knows this Basic FACT about Jesus for sure how come a Texan like you don't is beyond us. I bet you're one of those you questions pres. Obama's faith daily whilst you yourself lack this basic fact. Stop listening to fake pastors like; Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell etc.

      I knew this before I even set foot in a Catholic Daycare center way back when my mum dropped me off without even telling me my daycare/Christian studies starts that morning. I passed with flying colors on this one and was awarded a Certificate in Bible Knowledge (BK) in First Grade. Seek a better church for the WORD of God.
      FYI: Wolf Blitzer on CNN FAILED this basic test on Jeopardy (TV) last year.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  9. Conway Eastwood

    Jesus Christ wouldn't vote at all, even if he wanted to, because he is not a United States citizen.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Rod in Texas

      That's the same thing I said!

      March 6, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  10. Portland tony

    If Jesus were a historical prophet he would know nothing about American democracy and would be at a loss to explain or understand our political system. If Jesus were the son of God he would laugh at our presumption that he should care one way or another. What a stupid inane question! As "Forest Gump" would say...Stupid is as Stupid does.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  11. Jarrett

    I think it is just sad that you put an article like this up and that people would even read it. This just shows me how messed up our media and our politicians are. Jesus would vote for non of these people unless he was a corrupt ass hole.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  12. Michael Wong

    Silly Americans. You always assume that if Jesus were to come back, YOUR country is the first place he would go. Why? He loved the poor and downtrodden, not the rich and powerful. Your country is the richest, most powerful country on Earth, and you refuse to be apologetic for it, and you LOVE to throw your weight around, both economically and militarily. Jesus would NOT be a fan.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Yup

      Proving once again that christianity is one of the most self centered philosophies on earth.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • William Demuth

      So Jeebus is gonna go to Calcutta?

      The sand maggots would eat him?

      So Jeebus is going to go to Bejing?

      They would crucify him in Tiananmen Square

      March 6, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  13. hemo

    Jesus preached hate and misery, so i think he would vote republican

    March 6, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Guester

      No, actually he didn't.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • vbscript2

      Just curious... when did Jesus preach hate? Oh, right. He didn't.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • hippypoet

      look, even as the atheist i am i know that jesus didn;t preach hate and misery – jesus's message was a good one but not special nor unique to him!

      March 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • William Demuth

      vbscript2

      Jesus promised to annihilate BILLIONS of humans

      How is that not hatefull?

      You redencks are CLUELESS

      March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Oh boye! I really didn't ignorant crazies like you even exists in America. Seek help!
      If Jesus said, "Love thy neighbor as thy self" unquote; and you call this HATE, then you don't even belong to or dwell in animal kingdom of beasts. Who the heck is your mama anyways? We wish to know.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
  14. Josh

    Jesus would not vote.

    These are Earthly matters, and not matters that members of the Kingdom of God would concern themselves over.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • hemo

      no god, fyi

      March 6, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  15. William Demuth

    What gives anyone the idea Jesus supported democracy?

    Based on the Bible, if Jesus was here he would kill any opposition he had along with half the worlds population.

    Ya see, Jeebus has that passive aggresive thing down to an art. He may seem placid to you, but his arrival portens the death of the majority of humans.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey, Jesus NEVER killed anyone.
      You must be talking about Moses, the Jewish God.
      Get it together will ya?

      March 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  16. Really?2

    Very good analysis, Mr. Taunton. Question: if Jesus wouldn't vote, why would a Christian?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  17. David Johnson

    Jesus, if He wasn't long dead, would vote for Obama. The Christian Right, the Republicans, never mention Jesus' advice to the rich or mention how He wanted us to treat the poor and the elderly (honor your father and your mother).

    Instead of the Gospel of Jesus, they would have the nation abide by the Prosperity Gospel.

    Jesus honored women. The Republicans have declared war against them.

    If Christ came back he would drive his treacherous servants, the Evangelicals, out of the temple with a whip.

    Cheers!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Twm

      I seriously doubt Jesus would vote for the war mongerer, liar, hypocrit Obama. That said i find it difficult to believe that he would vote for Newt, Santorum nor Romney. Ron paul perhaps?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Double R

      @ David Johnson: Who said Jesus was dead? He is alive and well and seated at the right hand of the father.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @TWM
      How is the guy who ended war a war-mongerer?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @double R
      How can He be seated at teh right hand of Himself?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Double R

      @ Doc: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are 3 and yet 1. One in their essence, three in their person, the same in their nature, distinct in the work. It is one of the most amazing mysteries of our time. We could spend a lifetime trying to figure it out, but the Lord works in mysterious ways.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Translation: I am unable to articulate the double-think required to worship a Trinity and still consider my religion monotheistic – ergo: Goddonediddit.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  18. Really?

    He would not vote for anyone.....he is already ruling in Heaven and soon he will fix the earth.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • hippypoet

      techically speaking jesus is the son and since his daddy-o is a god whom never dies jesus will only ever rule elsewhere not heaven.....so the J man gets to fight it out with satan for rule over the earthly reaml! sweet!!! i'm calling it a royal rumble because techically they are both gods creations and so are equal brothers – therefore both are royality! or to make a pun "rumble in the bronze...age" lol

      March 6, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Because the creator of this vast universe is going to send "his only son" to save a single planet which all things considered is doing quite well at the moment (star is not dying and we are not moving from the goldy locks zone any time soon).

      March 6, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  19. hippypoet

    "They invoke his name to summon votes the way his apostles once used it to make the lame walk and the blind see. "

    thats using gods name for personal profit!!! thats a sin......i shall you all you president wanna be's in hell! muhahahahahahahaha!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • moses95

      Actually Jesus the Son and God the Father are one in the same. He is the Great I Am and created everything. What you write about is a Mormon teaching.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  20. momoya

    The wording of the last paragraph makes it sound as if the author knows who Jesus would vote for, but just can't share the information..

    March 6, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • CosmoChick

      um... i think he was being sarcastic...

      March 6, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • momoya

      umm.. why?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • J.W

      Well I would imagine that would look like he was endorsing a certain candidate.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      It's called "Classified Vote" buddy. Only the righteous will know or will have access to. Heheehehehehe!

      March 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.