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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. Keith

    He definitely wouldn't vote for anyone as frothy as Rick Santorum. I mean really, what a mixture to have in that orifice. How could anyone vote for that?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • William Demuth

      He and Rick would be lovers!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • William Demuth

      He and Rick would be butt buddies!

      A real bromance!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  2. anthony

    Once again, easy to ridicule Christianity but I guess since they are a forgiving nature, its ok. Why don't you have the guts to print who would Allah vote for or some other religion's leader. What's the matter can't take the heat? Excuse the pun.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • William Demuth

      Allah can't vote because he is illiterate, and Yahweh owns the media so he doesn’t have to!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Mike

      Yeah, forgiving, huh. Oh that Christian forgiveness, like all those witch burnings and Inquisitions and all. And they killed their hero by nailing him to boards. Forgiving my ass. Just crack a history book sometime. What a bunch of evil beasts Christians are.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • J.W

      Probably just because CNN is an American company and most Americans are Christian. But I agree I may like to see how other deities would vote as well.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  3. Ken

    Jesus would probably stay home to throw up at the state of things.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  4. palintwit

    If the toothbrush had been invented somewhere other than the bible belt it would be called a teethbrush.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      Why does Jeebus curse the teeth that praise him?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Patrick

      🙂 !!!!!!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
  5. Tam

    Which Jesus?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  6. Tam

    Seriously? This is even a topic?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  7. El Flaco

    Jesus was not a Christian. Jesus was a Jew who expected God to expel the Romans and overthrow the monarchy. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the last prophecy, he expected an Army of Angels to descend from heaven and destroy the infidels and expel the foreigners. It never occurred to him that he would be summarily executed within hours.

    Christianity was invented by the Catholic Church, at the order of Constantine, three centuries after Jesus was executed.

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

      Flaco....the Apostles weren't even Catholics, so you might need to read the Book of Acts to get a clear understanding of where Christianity came from.

      God Bless you!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • William Demuth

      Quite true.

      I bet the first nail wiped away any illusions from Jeebus' eyes, cause the heavenly cavalry never showed up!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • H in Texas

      Oh now don't be injecting facts and history into mythology. It confuses the rock bangers.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • HeIsGod

      WOW, El Flaco, aren't your full of LIES?? LOL!!!

      You said:
      "When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, fulfilling the last prophecy, he expected an Army of Angels to descend from heaven and destroy the infidels and expel the foreigners. It never occurred to him that he would be summarily executed within hours."

      Just goes to show how ignorant and how little you know about Christ.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Jared Hamline

      Jesus was a Jew, but the Jews didn't really like Him. And ofcourse He isn't a Christian, a Christian follows Jesus, Jesus can't really follow Himself. Plus, If you're going to ride into a town to take it over like the Jews wanted him to, then He would've rode in on a horse. A donkey was used as a symbol for humility. The Jews wanted a revolution, but the revolution Jesus wanted wasn't to overthrow the government, it was love everyone the way God loved us (hence John 13:34 and John 15:10-12). Jesus would rather wash the feet of His enemies then kill them.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Yeb, I saw him (Jesus) riding triumphantly on a Democrat Donkey a.k.a the "Party of Normal People" and not some fat stinky ASS elephant eating everything in sight just like these crazy, imbecilic GOP clowns with very little IQ brain cells.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  8. William Demuth

    A quick read the Bible says Jeebus would be a dictatorial Marxist economically, and that he would maintain a Fascist foreign policy

    March 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Brad

      I would bet on complete disengagement from the political process: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

      March 6, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • andrew.peter

      how about you read it less quickly and more thoroughly. It is true that a model of christianity community shown in the book of Acts looks very similar to Communism/Socialism, but the main difference is the ruling head. In earthly communism/socialism, there is forced adherence to the State, and the state is the supreme ruler. In a Christian community, there is voluntary and willing adherence to Christ and each other, and Christ is the supreme ruler. That is "a world" of a difference!!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • William Demuth

      andrew.peter

      Guess you don't know me too well do you?

      I read it before you were born, I will read it after you are dead.

      I know the whole shtick for what it is A COMPLETE FABRICATION.

      Silly Rube!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • William Demuth

      andrew.peter

      Willing? What about the BILLIONS he intends to kill for failing to kiss his Palestinian rear end?

      Will they be "willing"?

      Silly Boy!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • andrew.peter

      I'm talking about Christians in a Christian community who willingly adhere to the Head. Rebels like yourself obviously obviously aren't included. As a Christian my joy and contentment comes in serving the Lord, yet my earthly desires are contrary many times.
      The Lord Jesus is real, and He gives the Holy Spirit to indwell the believer to change that person's desires. The process is a lifetime, but His point is to make us into His image. As a believer that is worth more than anything earthly because He is good, and all things good come from Him. Apart from Him is torment and despair, ruled by Satan, who is currently – and temporarily – the prince of this world.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  9. Chris

    Jesus wouldn't vote for any of them. They are all sinners.. uhh.. I mean politicians.

    But really.. I am sure there are thousands of more pious people out there, who would be better candidates, that Jesus would vouch for, but they aren't millionaires and can't afford to run.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Please don't exempt yourself as non-sinner.
      This is basic knowledge of every TRUE Christian. Jesus said, everyone is born a sinner at BIRTH and from the womb of his/her mother. How come you know this?

      March 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  10. David

    I am amazed at the misconception some people have of Jesus. This is why the bible says when He returns, some people will want the cliffs to fall on them to end their shame and agony.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • William Demuth

      And Jeebus will oblige them.

      A great humanitarian your Jeebus!

      March 6, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • colleen

      If anyone wants to Know read Joel and Revelations In the bible. Thanks for your comment keep praying. Jesus is concerned with the heart of man not his political views. If people only knew that He loved them and died on the cross for are mistake they would be in awe. I like that old hymm that says Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me I once was BLIND but now I see.....................

      March 6, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Read your Bible please. Jesus himself said: "Ye shall KNOW me NOT on my return". I knew this text from 1st Grade Bible Knowledge (BK) classes and not from Bible Studies. Take note: there's a huge difference between Bible Knowledge (BK) and Bible Studies. Bible Knowledge (BK) supersedes Bible Studies. Those with Bible Studies intellect are the Fake Christians in America today also known as the American evangelicals (mostly white) in the likes of corrupt fake pastors like; Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell etc.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  11. Char

    He will bless the candidate that feeds the poor and the fatherless, shelters the widow and acts as the good Samaritan to his neighbor. He would bless the candidate that promotes peace. The candidate that puts the good of others ahead of himself. So you have to ask yourself which candidate TRULY CARES about the welfare of those in need?

    As Jesus said, "By this shall men know you are my disciples, if you love one another". Vote for the candidate that shows love and mercy. I'm a Christian, and I'm voting for OBAMA because I believe he puts others first and truly wants to serve humanity.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  12. andrew.peter

    Very good Article!! Quite historical.
    My humble opinion is that Jesus would vote 3rd party, and preach against the sins of each. The republicans praise selfish capitalism, and the democrats exalt self-gratification. A truely godly man will never win a presidential election in this country as it currently stands, but Scripture tells us this when it says the message of the cross is FOOLISHNESS to those who are perishing. This is confirmed whenever Santorum decides to say anything relating to his faith.
    By God's grace we could someday elect a man with vision and conviction like William Wilberforce.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Matt

      You do know that Wilberforce only argued to end the slave trade, not slavery itself. Right?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • andrew.peter

      He campaigned against the abolition of slavery as well. His efforts helped to pass the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The year of his death.
      He was much influenced by his close friendship with John Newton, who wrote amazing grace, and a former slave trader.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  13. Edzspace

    We will all know who Jesus voted for as soon as the elections are over. He is God and He sets in authority those who are in authority good, bad, cruel or kind. God gives the people what they deserve and what forwards his agenda. If Americas Christians think that Obama is a horrible representation of their values, then they should look in a mirror to see how poorly they have represented Christ to the world. We destroy the planet with our industrial war machine in our quest to rule it's resources and think of ourselves as goodly people spreading democracy. Family farms, with happy livestock are replaced by mega corporation plantations with tortured animals that never see the light of day so we can have our cheap fast chicken nuggets. We should all pray that Jesus doesn't come back anytime soon because none of us could face our own reflection.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • David

      That's good! You are sooo right!

      March 6, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  14. Ashauna

    Who cares who would Jesus vote for?? Jesus wouldn't associate himself with the election in a corrupt capitalist society when there are millions of starving villages all over the world and wars being started over material things and religion. Christianity and the teaching of Jesus Christ has been used to distort and manipulate millions of people's minds for the love of power and money for centuries. Christian teach the word of god but use god as an excuse to kill millions of people. Jesus would come to change the world before he voted for O-BOMB-A or any republican; if only the notion that Jesus is coming back was scientifically possible... Believe in whats right, not whats only satisfying and beneficial to you.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  15. Jude

    the dude went missing for most of his life...so he comes back with allot of really neat spiritual stuff he picked up in some other lands and folks in his little backwoods village think he's really super special with all the yin/yang good/bad not everyone is born perfect stuff so he scares the establishment with new thought....new thought is happening now and has for about 4 years so i'd say he'd vote OBAMA. the only person out there that really seems to be looking out for the average american citizen, student, family, community..and out land. these other guys are charlatans, greedy, narsacistic and hateful.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • William Demuth

      Wow, the wandering Jeebus theory!

      So he would come back as a Mogol or a Buddist?

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

      in an imperfect world overpopulated with imperfect people...he's take the middle way...independent voting for OBAMA.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  16. alex

    Beautifully written, concise and on point, except for the last sentence. I would have preferred a more honest comment such as, "I honestly don't know. I know my own mind; it would be truly presumptuous of me to believe I know the mind of Jesus."

    March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  17. palintwit

    We arrive in rusty 1964 motorhomes.
    We bring our bibles and loaded assault weapons.
    We wear ridiculous clothing and have teabags dangling from our ears.
    We carry misspelled racist signs as we stomp all over the White House lawn.
    We believe that the earth is only 6,000 years old and that early man walked with the dinosaurs.
    We love the baby jesus but we love to boink our cousins even more.
    We believe that nascar is a real sport and that Dale Earnhardt is a great athlete.
    We are Sarah Palin's real Americans.
    We are the birthers and the baggers.
    We are the evangelicals and the republicans.
    We are complete morons and we are proud.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jeebus loves the simple minded

      His priests love the little children.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Ashauna

      so what if the bible said it! that doesn't mean that god said it.!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  18. larryb

    he could not vote and we would throw him out because he doesn't have a green card

    March 6, 2012 at 10:45 am |
  19. Leigh

    JESUS does not vote. He's in control, he's Alpha and Omega. JESUS does not vote. The "World" votes, and we know who is the prince of this world. Don't worry the days are counting down to the one and only "President", and that's for the whole world, not just this nation/United States. No voting will take place for that, it's been written and it WILL BE DONE. Selah.

    March 6, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • bcinwi

      show me one scientific fact that jesus is in control.....oh yeah you can't

      March 6, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • HeIsGod

      bcinwi –

      show me one scientific fact that JESUS isn't in control of the life of the individual who TRUSTS in Him.........OH YEAH, YOU CAN'T, CAN YOU?

      March 7, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  20. Rich

    Can we get an article about who Alexander the Great would vote for? Maybe Hammurabi or Tutankhamun?

    March 6, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Floyd from Ilinois

      King Tut believed himself the incarnation of the sun god Ra on Earth. i doubt he would have voted for anyone.

      But he probably sees a kindred spirit in Gingrich.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:07 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.