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

    JESUS would have been HORRIFIED; If while Alive the Followers of His WAY had Tried to Make Him into the Mythical ROMAN SUN GOD that Christians Worship Today.

    March 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Steven

      Mohamed Ali -How u doin?

      March 6, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
  2. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or GOP

    Obama of course!

    March 6, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  3. Nathan

    He would clearly vote for Romney, the only candidate that belongs to His true church.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  4. angry

    this article is a fluffy little waste of time this belongs in the guys blog... not on cnn.com what a horrible thing cnn has done with thier "news". There's a bunch of silly crap on here in the last couple years that really sounds like it came from the onion.

    March 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  5. One one

    Who would Jesus bomb ?

    March 6, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  6. One one

    He would do what everyone else does, of course. Vote his pocketbook .

    March 6, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Jesus

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~~~~..

      March 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • just sayin

      studies mentioned have been proven false. For permanent results study God in prayer

      March 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • PAW

      For permanent results study God in prayer

      In other words, do nothing.

      March 6, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Scott

      @just sayin:”studies mentioned have been proven false.”

      Thought lying for the faith was only a Muslim thing. Apparently not

      March 6, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      All atheists are liars, they can't help themselves. To become an atheist you lie to yourself, after that it is a way of life. Most real Americans don't even want them in our country. President George H W Bush said an atheist is not a patriot and should not even be a citizen.

      March 6, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ahahhahha. What a load of manure you are.

      March 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Scott

      @just sayin:” President George H W Bush said an atheist is not a patriot and should not even be a citizen.”

      To be denigrated by the WORST president the United States has ever had, Mr. Iraq has WMDs so let’s start a second war, for some reason, does not bother me. Also, if you are interested in finding liars or people of exceptionally low moral standards, I suggest you check out televangelists, for instance Pat Robertson, bishop Hughie Long and Herald Camping.

      March 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      Folks like Just Sayin' are Jesus sucking slaves. Just sayin'

      March 7, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • sam stone

      scott: what did bush 41 care? he knew none of his decendents will have had to fight it

      March 7, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  8. That Depends

    Regardless of which Jesus you're talking about (historical, Biblical or non-existant), Jesus wouldn't vote Republican or Democrat.

    March 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  9. Anon

    Babble Zombie Jeebus would likely vote for Santorum.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  10. Bill

    There's no doubt in my mind that Jesus would vote for .............. Shawn Kemp.

    March 6, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  11. WC

    Bernie Sanders, but he's not running.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  12. Christ Fellowship

    Reblogged this on Christ Fellowship, New Port Richey and commented:
    In honor of Super Tuesday we're reblogging this post by Larry Alex Taunton posted on CNN's Belief blog. Enjoy!

    March 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Jesus would vote green and tell every Republican to stop using his name with one corner of their mouths and helping the rich and scr@wing the poor with the other corner.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  14. Brian

    Jesus was fiscally conservative and socially liberal and believed in individual freedoms—true freedom. So he would have naturally voted for Ron Paul.

    March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Ron Paul says to leave social issues to the states. That is not a social liberal, that is a cop out and would create a whole mess of different laws that would clog the legal system within the states. He doesn't want to deal with it, and "leave it to the states" is a good little sound bite for the "less government" crowd, even though it creates less federal government but more state government.

      March 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  15. Snow

    Who would he vote for? probably someone who understands and follows his teachings.. sooo, that pretty much rules out all the people who call themselves as "Christians" these days..

    March 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  16. 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 3:42 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Things getting warm yet Lost-Reality?

      March 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  17. Iqbal Khan

    Must check...


    March 6, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  18. Dan Lewis

    My, what a cowardly, dishonest, distorted and deluded little article! Way to go! Way to false advertize! Way to show off.
    I guess this is what we should have expected from a deluded bible-thumper. Typical poop.
    Religion comforts...and cripples.

    March 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  19. Branson Brown


    March 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Does religion naturally make people comedy impaired?

      That wasn't even remotely funny. It was just the insipid phony stereotype created by Christian haters who hate thy neighbor.

      Atheists generally are much funnier. Proof:


      March 6, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • momoya

      What's the label "atheist" have to do with anything in that vid?. Why is it making fun of mentally handicapped children?. That's offensive.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Bob

      Carlin F-T-W.

      George Carlin rocked.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • One one

      If this is the best you have you will soon become extinct.

      March 6, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  20. JohnLuke

    Jesus would write in Tim Tebow

    March 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Bob

      Teblow lost. Time for the Christians to pick a new poster boy, have the new fail, the Christians go into denial/ conveniently forget, lather, rinse repeat. Same old same old.

      March 6, 2012 at 4:15 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.