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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. Tom

    Great article and right on target. But all it took me was to read the first response to remember to read CNN's Religious Blog but to ignore the reader comments.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  2. Emma Do

    Seriously, why are you asking such idiotic questions, you certified m0ron. If Jesus existed as written in the Scriptures, then he would not waste his time with the politics of Man. He would be following his own path, spreading the word of love and trying to impart the true meaning of our purpose and existence. He would not be a registered voter; he would not be waiting in line at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles; he would not be cheering on the NY Giants and he would not be contemplating who to vote for. Seriously. If you could go back in time and choose a degree other than journalism, what would it be...seriously.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  3. evans

    One thing I am sure of is that Jesus will not vote for a party that supports abortion, gay marriage, mandates, socialism and fight against religious freedom.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • cw

      So now you KNOW what Jesus would think. Quite sacrilegious of you.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      yep, cause jesus wasn't as good as everyone claims. he's not all about love. read the bible. jesus approves of slavery:

      Luke 12:37-38 (New American Standard Bible)
      37 "Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and will come up and wait on them.
      38 "Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.”

      March 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      it is obvious from the Scriptures that Christ followed the same moral absolutes as his family going back generations had followed. No need to "guess" whether he would vote for those things....we know..it is right there in the Bible. Ppl that say Christ was liberal are missing the complete reason for Christ to come...duh! Modern liberalism is completely anti-Christian, since moral absolutes aren't based on whether YOU think they are wrong! Actually, the principle of human secularism, where YOU pick what is right/wrong is a purely Satanic thing, not to ever be confused with Christianity. These liberals that say this have never opened a Bible...obviously!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • amy

      Your bible teaches that Jesus was socialist in political leanings. But don't let facts interrupt a good diatribe. Also, Jesus never once mentions gays or abortions in your fairytale book. But again, don't be distracted by facts.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Amy....socialist? Do you have any clue what you are talking about. Not only did you completely misunderstand the text, you have absolutely NO understanding of the Bible, which is obvious by your comments. First, the only form of govt found in the Bible (besides the period of "Judges") is a monarch, but Jesus completely implies that the monarch is only sovereign when the King is Jesus, since humanity can't fairly govern itself. i thought all the stories would give that away, but since I read your comment, I can tell you dont care about facts...only about insulting the book. In that case, your comment is illegitimate.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  4. RG Dubz

    He vote for the Easter bunny.. since neither existed.

    Idiots..

    March 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • RG Dubz

      I meant "He'd"

      March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Aaron

    Jesus would be happy that by the end of the year he can flood the earth and start over. He wouldn't bother voting....

    March 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  6. Bob Barker

    Jesus wouldn't vote for any of the candidates because Jesus isn't an American.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  7. Mr Mark

    I don't know. Who would Zeus or Anubis or any of the other imaginary gods like Jesus vote for?

    Who would Rhett Butler or Sydney Carton or any of the the other fictional characters in literature like Jesus vote for?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • woodstock

      Whether or not you believe he is the son of God, Jesus isn't fictional. He actually lived.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Craig

      Mr. Mark, actually, Jesus was a historically real (not fictional) person. His existence has been noted in numerous historical texts from the time of his earthly life (not just the Bible or religious writings).

      March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • amy

      Hate to be the one to break it to you, but historians disagree on whether Jesus was a real, living person. Personally, I want to know who Mary Poppins would vote for.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  8. Thomas Scherer

    Jesus was very much wrapped up into politics of his day. his position on the Jubliee and rendering unto Caesar was very politically and angered a lot of property owners. In turn, I suggest Jesus's statements were very important in making the decision to have him crucified.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • LAUS DEO

      I am awed by Washington's prayer for America. Have you ever read it? Well, now is your unique opportunity, so read on!

      'Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large. And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'

      Jesus was crucified because he said Gods name out loud. That's why they tore off their clothes and cried out. That was also the only way you could put a JEW to death in that day. "Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. 66What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. "

      March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • TING

      Of the two main parties, which today would be more likely to demand his crucifixion? Hmmm...Perhaps the same one that is claiming to have Jesus on their side?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • bonez2

      I think u completely misinterpeted the words. Give unto caesar what is his is a well known example of Jesus saying god was seperate from man.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  9. samhain

    who would jesus vote for? seriously? i didnt know fictional characters could vote. you should ask freddy kruger while youre at it

    March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  10. Holly

    Ron Paul's political ideas are quite possibly the most Christ-centered, but in this crazy world where evil people like Muslim extremists seek to destroy us, my vote is going to Romney. Unlike Paul, I know Romney will not be afraid to use our military to protect the religious freedoms we hold so dear. Santorum seeks to make laws from Christian beliefs, not what Christ did or taught. And Gingrich, well I think he's a phony. His actions in his private or public life are not those of a Christian.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Craig

      And what about in the general election? WWJVF (Who Would Jesus Vote For?)

      March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  11. Sam

    Jesus doesn't need to vote. He already knows who is going to be the next president because the person that gets in office was chosen and ordained by God to be that man.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Ritti

      Ahh yes, just like the German President in the 30's and 40's...what was his name? Stalin, no.. Bin Laden, no.... Oh yea, Hitler. Hitler was his name. Strange choice if you ask me. But things are looking up it seems, Putin is running Russia again, so there’s that.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Dr Diamond

      -Will said Sam! The truth is the light, but people love darkness more than light, that's why we have so much hatred in the world.
      Dr.Diamond 2012 A.D.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
  12. Dinah

    Jesus is Jewish, smart, and liberal...so def not a Republican

    March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • lolol

      JC wouldn't vote for any of these s c u m b a g politcians, dems or repubs and if He was forced to do so, i'm sure his best candidate would be Ron Paul.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Jesus was a liberal? He upheld the values and morals of Judaism, and time and time again reinforced the idea of moral absolutes. How can you possibly classify Christ as liberal? Is it that he didn't allow the girl to be stoned? That seems to be why most liberals call him liberal. In any event, Christ was certainly not liberal....most liberals talk about the Bible as being hatefilled...what do you think Christ spoke of...the Scriptures...he read them, memorized them, and preached them to the ppl. he was about conservative values (albeit, not the form of consevatism present).

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  13. Dave

    Wouldn't the first gentile convert be the Ethopian eunoch of Acts8:26-40?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  14. fred

    The Obama administration has put 47 million people on food stamps under the Department of Agriculture while the Department of Forestry posts signs "do not feed the animals they will become dependent and forget how to feed themselves".
    Christians and atheists will vote for this guy not out of a godless or enlightened mind rather out of their self-serving nature. Like the bears in Yellowstone we vote for a picnic basket to fill our desires oblivious to the natural consequences of our selfish behavior.

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

      Dehumanization of others is inhumane.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • bonez2

      so a recession that started under Presiednt Bush (the largest collapse) is obama putting people on food stamps? how about corrupt wall street practices?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • fred

      bonze2
      Problem is buying votes which solves the election problem but not the underlying cause. Giving Bush a black eye does nothing except show how silly or vote has become. If you have a problem with wallstreet then hold Obama accountable as it was he not Bush the signed the payouts. Last week he opened the doors for investors and speculators to get rich buying up property and renting it out.....................nice picnic basket to apease the bears of wallstreet.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      Inhumane indeed! Redistribution of wealth in a declining economy is inhumane because it takes from the most productive and gives to the least productive. The Soviet Union 5 year plans proved that redistribution not only redistributes wealth it redistributes initiative. The problem with initiative is that it combines with the characteristic of the individual it is given. So you take it away from a productive person that creates wealth with that initiative and give the initiative to the person that does not know how to create wealth so they increase their desire for more of what is being redistributed. How can I teach a man to fish that has a government servant bring him a free fish fillet on a platter?

      March 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  15. Orly

    Jesus would not vote

    March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • alex chapman

      That's not what Taunton said. Jesus would vote but not try to cram his political choice down the throats of his fellow citizens. He would appeal to the spiritual aspect that dwells in each of us. Jesus would have gotten upset if any one used his message for purely political purposes & would have responded as he did when he confronted the money changers in the Temple.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    when jesus comes back, he's not going to vote, he's going to open daddy's seven seals and kill everyone. plants and animals too. jesus is evil:

    Revalation 6:1-17
    6:1 I looked on when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a thunderous voice, “Come!”
    6:2 So I looked, and here came a white horse! The one who rode it had a bow, and he was given a crown, and as a conqueror he rode out to conquer.
    6:3 Then when the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come!”
    6:4 And another horse, fiery red, came out, and the one who rode it was granted permission to take peace from the earth, so that people would butcher one another, and he was given a huge sword.
    6:5 Then when the Lamb opened the third seal I heard the third living creature saying, “Come!” So I looked, and here came a black horse! The one who rode it had a balance scale in his hand.
    6:6 Then I heard something like a voice from among the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat will cost a day’s pay and three quarts of barley will cost a day’s pay. But do not damage the olive oil and the wine!”
    6:7 Then when the Lamb opened the fourth seal I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come!”
    6:8 So I looked and here came a pale green horse! The name of the one who rode it was Death, and Hades followed right behind. They were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill its population with the sword, famine, and disease, and by the wild animals of the earth.
    6:9 Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given.
    6:10 They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?”
    6:11 Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been.
    6:12 Then I looked when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and a huge earthquake took place; the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair, and the full moon became blood red;
    6:13 and the stars in the sky fell to the earth like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when shaken by a fierce wind.
    6:14 The sky was split apart like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place.
    6:15 Then the kings of the earth, the very important people, the generals, the rich, the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains.
    6:16 They said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who is seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb,
    6:17 because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to withstand it?”

    March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Iluvatar

      Judgement is not the same as killing w/o reason.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you're right. especially when you judge people by rules you made up with, even though they don't agree with you. murdering innocent and good atheists just because they don't pay you lip service is evil. and some of the people murdered by jesus are babies/children. did they need to be judged too?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • J.W

      I do not know why Revelation is in the Bible. Most churches don't even read it.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      most churches read 5% of the bible. same passages regurgitated over and over. if you read the whole thing, you see how insane and downright evil the bible is. kill h_o_m_o_s_e_x_u_a_l_s, stone disobedient children to death, kill all non-believers, etc. you have to cherry pick with that most evil of books.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Mary

      Revelation i.e. (the 4 horsemen of the apocolypse) in the bible is a foretelling (warning) of what will happen in the world. It is what man will be doing to man.........e.g. the white horse talks about removing peace from the world ...is really man fighting man (wars and rumor of wars and barbaric acts)...wheat costing a days wages....inflation and a one world govt ruling over the economy will make this happen etc. etc.. All out this is man's doing and will escalte to this point under a one world govt ...It is Jesus and only Jesus that will come back to the earth to stop this and reign for 1000 yrs....will be the only time there will be 'true' peace on earth.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  17. Dr Diamond

    -Finally someone speaks truth. These Republicans are just like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes of Jesus time claiming to know God, but the truth be told they would not know Him if He was looking them in the face.This writer has made a great point. And as for u humans that don't believe, just keep living and one day u too will stand face to face with your creator. As the Good Book says: "It's a terrible thing to stand in front of an angry GOD...Yes! God does get angry. 2012 will prove this point. America better pray that the winds will cease. Remember u heard it here first.

    The Dr. 2012 A.D.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • BRC

      Just to be clear, are you claiming the world will end in 2012? Does this have anything to do with the Mayan predictions?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • bonez2

      if u factor in the fact that leap year was introduced by caesar, the mayan calendar being composed long before that, we already hit the end of the mayan calendar 7 months ago.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
  18. theimmigrant

    this question is obviously out of ignorance. Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to favor the "good" or "righteous" people, when it is clear that there's "none good but God"
    He did what He did out of grace our of obedience to the Father, no one earns grace so to ask who would He vote for is asking who is good enough. the answer still is NO ONE.
    The question in this election is who the one that upholds the core values of this nation the most? Who will lead? Who will unite? Who has the guts to do what is right? Who cares enough for our soldiers?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  19. Holly

    Some politicians put religious freedoms in jeopardy, Barak Obama comes to mind. I think most faithful Christians would agree that politicians seeking to undermine religious liberty, the very reason for the formation of this country, are not the leaders on Christ's side.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • amy

      Holly thinks that "religious liberty" means getting to force your particular brand of religious mythology on everyone else.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • Holly

        Religious liberty means allowing each person to worship how, where, or what they want without interference from the government.

        March 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Republicans and religious liberty is kind of funny to me. They have been on the opposite side of the argument for so long.

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

      Religious Liberty means...Government get out of the way!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • J.W

      Well Holly I am glad that you are in favor of gay marriage, stem cell research, etc.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Holly

        Gay marriage and stem cell research are not "religious freedoms".

        March 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • J.W

      Well they are not religious practices, but they have been legislated by using religious reasons. Therefore if the First Amendment is applied to health care it must be applied to these things as well.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Holly

      You said, "Gay marriage and stem cell research are not "religious freedoms"."
      True, but opposition against them is almost entirely based on religious bigotry.

      There is no rational argument against extending equal rights to homosexuals and allowing them to marry, just like the rest of us. Virtually all of the opposition is based on religion. It is an attempt to force religious restrictions on others that may not adhere to that religion.

      There is no rational argument against stem cell research. Virtually all of the opposition is based on religion. It is an attempt to force religious restrictions on others that may not adhere to that religion.

      Your freedom of religion ends where that of anyone else begins. You can't have freedom of religion if you don't have freedom from it. Freedom from religion is an integral part of freedom of religion.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  20. Kevin

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

    March 6, 2012 at 12:12 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.