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. Kevin

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIew3R_jAIk .

    March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  2. oneSTARman

    SATAN is ATTACKING AMERICA – I started Really Believing this when I saw the PRISONER on a stool covered with a Black Hood and electrodes on his fingers at ABU GRAHIB. THE BEAST is ANTI-LIFE. He is the EVIL which is DESTROYING our CLIMATE and spending a BILLION DOLLARS to convince the Gullible that Global Warming is a HOAX (Father of Lies) When GOD Divides His Flock from the GOATS it will Be on the Basis of how WE Treated 'The LEAST Among Us' – As We would Treat CHRIST Himself

    March 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  3. Wlfrnd1A

    Jesus would vote for the idiot because there's always hope you can rehabilitate an idiot you can't rehab a know it all.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • nown

      so that's how GW got elected, hmh

      March 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • oneSTARman

      GOOD ANSWER – Plato related a Saying of SOCRATES, "I Know ONE Thing – That I KNOW Nothing"

      March 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  4. Kevin


    March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  5. Pfft

    Definitely not the black guy.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  6. Kevin


    March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  7. C

    He would vote for the one PEACE candidate who wishes to follow the "golden rule", to do unto others as they would do unto you. Jesus would wish peace to people of all faiths, worldwide, not just the Christian conservative right running our Gop party. Jesus would support RON PAUL for truth and peace!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • LAUS DEO

      He would vote for no one. "Be not of the world or the things in it"

      March 6, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  8. Vince

    I doubt Jesus would vote for anyone who didn't want sick children to get all the health care they need.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      He wouldn't just heal them?

      March 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  9. What would Jesus defecate?

    Jesus voted himself God. The vast majority disagree with his self-elected status, and an "immortal" die exactly like any other mortal would, causing followers to come up with a contorted tale of "resurrection" "dying for their sins" to explain how their immortal God could die when he did miracles all over the place and easily could have miracled his butt out of there.

    So after Jesus died stupidly, his followers continued his election fraud and voted him God as well. Other people in other places and times have elected other beings God, but they are just as absurd.

    So that's how Jesus would vote. He would not care about politicians, because it was all about himself for Jesus.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  10. bear0402

    He would vote for me!!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  11. blaqb0x

    Hmm, If Jesus(New Test. writters) believed in democracy, wouldn't they have said something about it? I'm gonna have to look that up...

    March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  12. Brad

    Seriously CNN, was there extra space that needed used.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  13. Rodney

    CNN, why would you waste server space with such a BS article.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  14. Vogrog

    "Who would God ´vote´ for?" It is misguided to ask this question...and it is a sin to answer it. Shame on the author of this article, and shame on any politician who claims a divine endorsement.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Vince

      That would be Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, and George W. Bush. God "called" all 3 of them to serve...which I think amounts to an endorsement. I see a pattern with political affiliation there.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • Question

      Did you actually read the article?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  15. Thea

    Who is this jerk? What a waste of my time reading this.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  16. dd

    You can be sure that Jesus wouldn't vote for a liberal Democrat. Killing babies, even in the womb, is inconsistent with respect for life. Jesus is said to have raised the dead! He would throw the money changers out of the temple ... yes, HE would throw Obama tax machine under a bus ... HE would not accept stealing money from the people to line the pockets of politicians. Jesus would never accept a person who takes the lives of innocent children.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Get your teeth fixed and leave the "thinin" to others.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "Killing babies, even in the womb, is inconsistent with respect for life. "
      Except, of course, when God does it, right? Ex. 12:29

      March 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
    • cw

      "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's" – Do you not even read the Bible?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  17. Igor Purlantov

    The answer is on wikipedia. -Igor Purlantov

    March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  18. Aezel

    You have to exist first to be able to vote. Jesus would vote for the same person that Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy would.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • just sayin

      There is no doubt that Jesus existed, the only debate would be is he the son of god...just sayin.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • mamatiger92

      How original.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  19. Cecil

    "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's"

    March 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • tim

      "The cool thing is that there are no more Caesars and there never were any gods." -Martin Luther Queen

      March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  20. christards

    Jesus is nothing but a historical figure. Has to be. Since his big claim is his dad was god and there is no god then he was just another human if he existed at all. Jesus never existed. com

    Article might as well ask: Who would Abe Lincoln vote for?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Mike Hall

      aww...there are some sad sacks out there.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • tim

      I wouldn't ask Lincoln. He hasn't been the same since that awful head injury.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
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About this blog

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.