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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. klangster

    Jesus was clearly a green party member so he would vote straight green party ticket with no variations duh

    March 6, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  2. You

    Just ask Tim Tebow.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  3. joe12

    John 18:36-37 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." (37) Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

    March 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  4. Pattie

    The super Christians would kill him because he would want to take care of the poor and the sick and the little children.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Peggy

      Truth.

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

      Yeb, that's the GOP party of fake Christian clowns and greedy FAT Assess.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  5. Michael

    Not easy to say whom he would vote for, but pretty clearly he wouldn't vote for any Republican. I'm certain he wouldn't espouse the Republican mantra of American Exceptionalism since he really didn't believe in countries. He also was clearly not a capitalist. That's was always blows my mind about how fundamentalists tend to be Republicans. Unregulated and unfettered Capitalism is absolute anathema to Christian values in every way.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • unknown11

      Why do you have the impression that Jesus was not a capitalist? You seem to be ascribing you own views to his. That is seldom a good idea.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • chuck

      So wrong Michael. Jesus would leave the choice to the world and not have the government dictate. If the government was following the bible when making laws, then I would agree, but unfortunately this country believes the US was not built that way .

      March 6, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Peggy

      Maybe Jesus would not vote as his name might not be on the voter registration but I think he would bless the party that provides sustenance and health care for the poor and disabled

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

      Yes Peggy, He would and he would never vote for the party that kills his babies while still in the womb. Never be confused with the Democratic vision of providing for the poor. They only want to make everyone poor and have the government provide everything. just unfortunately we will run out of other people's money to spend and then everyone will have nothing.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  6. Fatez

    Who Jesus vote for, that's an easy one...Whoever His Father in heaven told Him too....

    March 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  7. Screendummie

    Why would a King vote?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Anon

      Yahweh/Jesus is an amoral egomaniac tyrant.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  8. Willie James

    Jesus would be vilified by folks today as an occupy member with long hair that believed in caring for one another. He sure as hell wouldn't vote Republican, as they are liars and hypocrites that serve the upper class.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  9. MobiusEight

    I don't recall Jesus ever even advocating democracy.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Anon

      A theocratic monarchy is more likely.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  10. Ronald Raygun

    jesus was a socialist

    March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • DanB

      Absolutely true. You can't read the New Testament without seeing that. Significant parts read like something Marx would have written. And even CS Lewis in Mere Christianity wrote that Christianity was socialistic.

      How Evangelicals have become so conservative is beyond me. I think they don't read the Bible enough

      March 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  11. waterman

    Jesus would certainly support the party that believes that the poor don't deserve anything. The poor are lazy and should be left to "free market" forces, which involve giving larger bonuses to millionaires. Jesus would also love guns, hate gays, and demand for more oil drilling and wars to secure foreign oil supplies. Because Jesus would want $2 gas for his 10 mpg pickup for ever. It should be obvious which party Jesus would vote for.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • Al

      You forgot about the Rebel flag proudly flying in Jesus's front yard.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. rick santorum twit... America's favorite frothy mix

    Who in their right mind would vote for a freak whose name is synonomous with an anal discharge?

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

    It's a pretty safe bet he wouldn't vote for a Republican.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • streetdude66

      You would lose that bet. Jesus was a man of peace, he wouldnt vote for a party that forged evidence of WMDs to justify a war. Jesus healed the sick free of charge, GOp dont care if middleclass & poor people cant get healthcare. You dont know anything about Jesus.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Al

      " wouldn't"

      March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  14. John Paul

    Ha ha, great question. I am a born again believer. If Jesus walked on this planet once more before the second coming and this time he did it in USA, he would keep picking on Republicans like he picked on Pharisees and Sadducees.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  15. aginghippy

    We may as well ask who Santa Claus, or the Tooth Fairy, would vote for. I won't live to see it, but I like to believe there will come a day when any candidate still professing a belief in religious nonsense will be immediately rejected as naive and unfit to lead.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  16. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    In the first place, Jesus could not vote because he is not a US citizen. In the second place, dead people are only allowed to vote in Chicago.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Sensisence

      HAHA!!! FLORIDA is where dead people are voting, you'd better check your facts!!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Willie James

      And Texas.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Hey, David Duke is that you retiring in FL and awaiting your dead to hell fire?

      March 6, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  17. Joel

    He wouldn't vote at all. Here was his reason for being here..

    "The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God."

    – John 1:9-13

    March 6, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  18. Chris

    Jesus is lucky to have all these people speaking for him.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • bill

      Well said.
      I really wonder who GOD would vote for, probably none of them.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Willie James

      Normally, that right is reserved for republicans like Rick Perry and Rick Santorum.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  19. Marshall

    Oh be serious. Jesus Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The idea of him "voting" for some modern day politician is about as far from common sense as one can get. Evidently the person who came up with this foolish idea is completely ignorant.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Dave

      Yes and Republican!

      March 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Richard

      The whole thing including Jesus is as far from common sense. Believing the pope or any of these politicians can speak to god is as far from common sense.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  20. BL

    Jesus could've cared less about who was elected, because it really doesn't matter. He was concerned with total personal transformation, not the superficial, ever changing petty politics that are constantly in a state of flux and based largely on ignorance. He understood so well that if you are transformed as an individual, you transform the world.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • Anon

      Mythological Jesus actually preferred self-castration and amputation if you lusted after married women.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:13 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.