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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. oneSTARman

    WWJD? – (Mark 12:28-31) 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
    29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Matthew 25:35b-40) ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Marc

      Stop quoting the bible, it only shows how ignorant you are. Try using FACTS, and then form an opinion off those FACTS. Don't form an opinion off of a book that you have no EVIDENCE to support its claims with.

      It's so stupid, you people out there and your bible hugging beliefs. Most rational people will use EVIDENCE to base their opinions and then use FACTS obtained through that EVIDENCE to make a claim.

      You bible huggers have NO FACTS and NO EVIDENCE, there for what you say is not proven, and has no merit.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Maccabeus24

      Marc, the Bible is the main historical source of information on Jesus and his teachings. Where else should oneStarman refer to apart from the Bible? And we do have many historical facets behind our belief in the Bible. All those lost cities of the Bible are pretty much all found now - including Jericho. Jesus is represented beyond the Bible by thousands of other books written by contemporaries - including the Jewish historian Josephus, the Jewish Talmud, the Roman historian Tacitus - and all the thousands of Early Church Fathers who wrote for centuries thereafter. There is the lineage and historical context you would expect around Jesus. You just don't know about any of it because you've never studied it!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Steve

      Macca: You are incorrect. There are no contemporary sources that had written about Jesus in his time. Paul is the earliest and he did not refer to the gospels and only superficially described jesus' life, AND never met Jesus. The majority of scholars agree that the earliest Gospel was Mark, written about 70 AD. A full 40 years after his death. Your "thousands of other books" is an outright delusion. Josephus' "comment" is widely regarded as an early church forgery (the bit written about jesus is completely out of context with what was written around it, and was fawning of jesus which based on who josephus was makes no sense). Tacitus was written in the 2nd century, was certainly disdainful of Christianity and only states that there were christians who were followers of christ. Many believe jesus existed but that the biblical person he was stated to be was largely a construct and more a reflection of the times the gospels were written than his time (the pharisee's being prevalent etc). There are many gospel contradictions, John's account was VERY different from the synoptic gospels in terms of seeing things they never saw (hmm). Jesus' birth (magi, star etc was stolen from Egyptian myth). Also nobody else noticed upon his death (and I guess neither did the other 3 gospel writers) the dead walking around in jerusalem as per Matthew..funny how nobody noticed else noticed this. Oh and btw. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John as gospel writers is incorrect, they do not know who had written them, it was simply church tradition to add apostles names to it. Notice how (outside of the start of Luke) it is all written in the 3rd person? How when Matthew is first "met" in matthew notice how he does not acknowledge himself as a writer would? Anyways, like your criticism, you should also read up on biblical scholarship, something you have not done yourself with any degree of objectivity anyways.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Amitaf

      – Mind you this is an unsalvational issue, But, in seineg that, God so loved the world that He sent his only begotten Son, . . . . . . If there's several Calendar days of the year, that remind the Earth's people that the Father did send His Son, then good for the Calendar, the People, the Father, & His only begotten Son, Cause He would, that NONE would perish, but, all would have everlasting life . . . God would never hate an event, or day, that causes People world wide to acknowledge His own love He has for us . . . PS By the tone of your question, I'm surprised that you didn't end your question with Bah Hum Bug . . .

      April 4, 2012 at 12:52 am |
  2. He has given you a brain use that to make the right choice

    Thou Shalt not take the name of thy Lord in vain...

    March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey, we are talking about "Jesus, The Son of the Living God Almighty" and NOT the Lord God.
      For Heaven's sake; know the difference between, The Living God, Lord Almighty and Jesus. I don't think you qualify even as a Christian competent enough to even quote any scriptures from the Bible. You're NOT there yet. I knew the difference between the two; before I even set foot in a Catholic Daycare center way back when my mum dropped me off without even telling me my daycare starts that morning.
      Stop listening to fake Christians in the likes Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell etc.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Sammy

      The name of the lord, who would be a seriously major asshole if he actually existed for all the needless suffering he's supposedly caused and all the murders and rapes and other cr@p he asked for, should always be taken in vain, and with some Advil or other pain relievers too. So fuck your disgusting Jesus-myth and his daddy god too.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  3. Pizza

    Who would Jesus vote for? He tells us clearly in the book of John 18:36: "My kingdom is not of this world". So he would not support any any government here on this earth. And that is a FACT.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Marc

      There are no actual facts in the bible. The definition of FACT is "a thing that is indisputably the case; information obtained through EVIDENCE."

      There is no evidence that Jesus even existed. The only thing we have is some court records that are very misleading and then a few books writen 400 years after he supposedly existed.

      Get you FACTS straight.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • El Flaco

      I doubt that Jesus ever said that. That sentence was composed well after Jesus died. It is an effort to explain Jesus' very unexpected death.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Steve

      Take note that jesus said "not of THIS world" meaning the time he was speaking in, since the "World" changed. Are we in a different world today from then? Earth no, world yes. When the Soviet Uniton fell the world had changed..you get the point. Depends on how you define it. Problem is we cannot ask the intent of the original author can we? And yet human beings fight over this stuff and even kill over it certain of an interpretation they cannot verify. In other words, taking your religion too seriously in the context of which i speak is silly isn't it?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  4. Billie

    I would vote for Jesus!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Jesus doesn't need your VOTE which may be corrupted or otherwise.
      Not only that, "VOTE" means the winner has confirmed authority within that community of voters. The Jesus does NOT need such authority from any soul ....... period! Get that?
      Find a better church than the one you're currently misled or attending with its fake pastors like; Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell etc.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      I vote for Thor!

      March 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  5. JohnLuke

    He definitely would not vote for a Mormon that's for sure.
    Kidding, good article.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  6. ann west

    ❌ 🔴 Obviously No decent person would be a Republican. Their Leader is Rush Limpballs ❌

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      May the Lord, God Bless you today.
      You spoke his words on his behalf.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  7. t3chsupport

    I think he probably would have voted for Huntsman, but since there's no one better, he'd probably just sit this one out.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  8. erich2112x

    Jesus shows up to a voting site, long haired and bearded, carrying a little lamb in one hand and the scepter in the other, like their going to let him vote without ID.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  9. Wiseman71

    Who would vote for Jesus?!
    As we all know from history men "like" and including Jesus are killed for their ideals. Jesus had the Roman empire and we have the FBI and CIA.
    Jesus, Gaundi, Kennedy's, Martin Luther King, John Lennon...all killed by the powers that be,

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  10. J Mann

    He would vote to re-elect President Obama. See, not so hard.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Leslie

      President Barak Hussein OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb and for SURE!
      President Barack OBAMA.
      Messiah Pres. Obama wins 2012.
      The crazies can call him all the demeaning names they want like they did and mock Jesus.
      The Lord said; have NO fear of your enemies, for I am with THEE!
      Messiah Pres. Obama wins 2012, let the evil crazies eat their hearts outs.
      Take note: US will run of tissues for crazy GOP crying-babies in Nov 2012.
      The Lord took care of one of Pres. Obama's enemies just last week in a very spectacular manner.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  11. mouse

    Woe unto you that are rich.....for ye have recieved your consolation.....so who WOULD jesus vote for?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  12. Shannon Ivey

    Really great article! Although for such a provocative question, I wish you would have answered. I say "neither."

    March 6, 2012 at 10:33 am |
  13. Yup

    Jesus would vote the same way as Moses, Peter the Great and Stalin. That is to say, he wouldn't. Because he's dead.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • J.W

      You do realize it is a hypothetical question right? If I said say who would Lincoln vote for that means if he were here, I am not implying that Lincoln is still alive.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  14. Guester

    A better question would be which candidate most follows His teachings. I'd have to say Obama. The Republican's are the least likely to feed the poor and most likely to go to war so I think that leaves them out.

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

      Yes!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  15. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

    Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    So why do we really care who a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would vote for!!!!!!

    March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • t3chsupport

      Jesus didn't write about himself. I don't think he was insane, I think he was probably very intelligent and didn't let the others know how gullible they were being. For fun.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Peggy

      Now that I've read your post, I like Jesus even more.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Sammy

      That's great Peggy. Jesus was pretty sexually active and even went both ways, including doing his disciples at every chance. You'd probably fit in well with them, if you like doing it with groups, especially with guys that have been dead for 2000+ years.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Only two options Jesus was insane or a very good con man.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  16. Why_Bother

    Honestly Jesus would be the least informed voter out there. We all live accustomed to modern technologies such as computers, cars, electricity. I find it hard to believe anyone could fathom the world as it is now compared to 2000 years ago. I doubt he would even find it fathomable to vote for a person in order to give them power. The world has evolved in 2000 years and people need to start waking up and realizing this. Time can't be turned back so we must all move forward with it.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  17. gena

    Did you get that? Since he is the executive director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group he can not legally tell you that. He takes money from the government, therefore he agreed to say only what the government allows him to say to the public.....

    March 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • *facepalm*

      You obviously don't understand the finances of a non-profit. *sigh*

      March 6, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Richard

      Don't have to be a messiah to notice the author used a cop out and only name-dropped Jesus to get traffic to his article.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Aaron

      He wouldn't vote at all. He would trust that the Father would place His choice in place. Then Jesus would go spend his time doing something of importance: saving lives.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • hilreal

      PLEASE study what you are talking about before opening mouth and inserting foot. Look up the definition of a non=profit organization. It has nothing to do with taking or not taking money from the Gov. All churches and their related organizations are non-profit. Are they all funded by Uncle Sam?

      March 6, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Tara H

      I was going to facepalm too, but you beat me to it.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Double R

      Actually Aaron, the reason he wouldn't vote would be that at that point it wouldn't matter who's running for president. Jesus would be the defacto President, King, Sovereign Ruler, what have you, of ALL nations.

      March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  18. Mike G

    Jesus could not have voted because he wouldn't have been able to wrench his wrist free from the nail to pull the lever.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  19. Boo-yah

    It is clear He would vote for the democratic candidate. They are the party that truly support His people.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Peggy

      Amen.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  20. The Jackdaw

    Jesus didn't like Rome, why would he like the US?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:28 am |
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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.