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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. fauxbacon

    Seriously, who would cro-magnon vote for? Come on.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  2. Bo

    Has there ever been a true Christian in as president? What are the Chances now? I don’t believe that Christ would endorse any one of the candidates of any party.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Jamest297

      Yes, there has been a true christian as President. Remember Jimmy Carter? He was one of our finest, wasn't he 🙂

      March 6, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  3. Seriously??????????????

    Since we're being grossly stupid, here.

    Jesus Christ. Born in Bethelem. Citizen of Isreal.

    His vote doesn't matter.

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

      Jesus is NOT citizen of Israel.
      He's a jew. Let the TRUTH be told from here on: The TRUE and Real Jews (are so-called black Jews) are direct descendants of Judah now known as the "Falashas".
      The Great King Solomon is BLACK! Eat your heart out. Read your Bible when he cried out to the Lord including other prominent scripture figures. Don't mislead people.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  4. Lila

    Jesus was a hippie and would sound like Bernie Sanders if he was alive today.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  5. Deven

    If this man existed today, he'd be called a terrorist and be taken down by Eric Holder or the Taliban

    March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  6. rick santorum twit... America's favorite frothy mix

    Not even the baby jesus wants to associate himself with a freak who keeps dead fetuses in a jar.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  7. streetdude66

    if Jesus were to go to DC he would drive out the politicians with a bull whip. Especially the ones that dont want to heal the sick, feed the poor or those that counterfeit evidence of WMDs to justify a war that never had to fought for the sake of his familys oil concessions .

    March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  8. JM

    I think many right-wing evangelicals put party before Christ. They constantly claim to speak for Christ but seem to detest their opponents. Christ's main teaching was to love the Lord Your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Rest your soul, buddy. We know them thru. their DEEDS by 4-letter words: "Fake Christians of America" also known as the American evangelicals (mostly white) in the likes of fake pastors like; Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell, Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts etc.
      Yeb, that's the GOP party of fake Christian clowns and greedy FAT Assess.
      Jesus said; by their DEEDS yee shall know them. I have NEVER in my life witness a group people calling themselves Christians demeaning the poor so much simply 'cos we have a Pres. who cares at least about the poor amongst us as humans.
      Make sure you VOTE in Nov. 2012.

      March 6, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  9. dstrbnc

    Jesus would not vote for a foundation that baits comments to attract patrons. Not to mention how they got on cnn as a news story..few of these are..WWJD has lost all meaning..God does not need the church we have today that is why we are about to see a real shift in this country..WWJD now means Wonder What Juniors Driving to most of these clowns....
    I should know I live on the Tennesse-Georgia state line....yeah..their hearts in the right place..the freezer !!

    March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  10. Shaggy

    He would probably vote for another fictional character. Like Snoopy, or Batman. Heck, I'd vote for Batman, he's tough on crime and I like his economic platform.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      With his predilection for speedo clad adolescent sidekicks, Batman should attract Vatican support

      March 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  11. Bill Miller

    God forgive you and others who use blasphemy against the Savior. Just was crucified almost 2000 years ago and people have killed in his name, murdered in his name, deceived in his name, dirtied his name, mocked his name, still do to this day. If he is a ferry tale, why is he still hated and blamed, and his name is used in every cuss word. Not bad for something that does not exist. Just Thinkinng?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. PleaseUseLogic

    Worst CNN topic ever.

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

      Nope!
      It separates the TRUE and REAL Christians from the heartless, soulless, crazy, evil Repukecans and their fake sunday Christian irks dwelling amongst normal peaceful people who intends to do God WILL by healing the sick, providing comfort for the poor, the downtrodden and speak for the voiceless amongst us as the Son of the Living God did before his ultimate dead. You may have a problem with these basic Christian doctrines if you're one of those heartless soul Repukecan and tinfoil tea bagger. Are you one of them? We and the World wish to know.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  13. Dave

    When Jesus is in our midst again (and he most certainly will return), there will be no reason for him to vote for anyone...for He will be EVERYONE'S benevolent king. We will all "vote" for him humbly and reverently.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      We spend huge amounts of energy making sure one person doesnt lord over us forever. Why would we want some guy no ones ever seen to come and rule over us?

      No thanks.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Jamest297

      Don't know what time zone you are in, but if you are in the US, it's a bit early in the day to be hitting the sauce. Take a nap and come back when you're sober.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • JM

      I don't really think it will matter what 'we' want on that day. If He's God, He's God. That's like an ant telling a building to get out of its way.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Lila

      It shocks me anyone would desire that.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  14. Jamest297

    Voting is in Caesar's realm. Jesus would not vote. He would let the minions exercise their own free will and let them live with the consequences. Besides, voting is a democratic exercise and jesus wouldn't have anything to do with such a form of government.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  15. jimtanker

    What would jesus do, for a Klondike bar?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Jamest297

      Did you mean "...for a Klondike...?"

      March 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  16. sophiathomasowen

    he will vote for Mr.Obama.

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

      I think so too,he's is a lost soul and needs his guidance.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Trailer park Joe, you must be looking yourself in the mirror with your poked holes white pillow sheet on.
      For The Record: Pres. Obama has a SOUL and you and your crazy, fake Sunday Christians have NO ounce of SOUL within thee. Jesus and Pres. Obama STANDS for the poor and you and your crazy, racist, fake Sunday Christian irks stands firmly for the filthy RICH 1%. I bet you have never read the following in your racist Bible written by fake Christians in the likes Billy Graham and his son the Devil Lucifer, Flankin Graham, Oral Roberts, Pat Robert, Jerry Falwell etc. of Jesus sermon on the Mount which clearly states (in Matt):-
      – Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 3)
      – Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God. (Verse 8)
      – Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
      – Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10).
      Pres. Obama meets all these requirements and more in the eyes of the Living God and NOT in the eyes of satanic racist like you. You have NO shame.
      Ques: what's the color of that pillow sack you put over your head on daily like a clown to terrify neighborhood pigs in your village?
      Come on spill it! Will ya?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Bo

      @CHE; You must have a dark and thick pillow cover over your head without eye holes if you think that Obama cares about the poor. He, nor any one of the ???? politicians, on either side of the isle, in Washington care about the poor.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • ﺶCHEﺶ

      Pig "BO", Your pillow sheet meeting might have ended early as result of my post.
      Glad I'm able to draw another racist pillow wearer from his pig hole meeting.
      Mission accomplished!
      Racist, does "Obamacare" and your racist slogan "Obama's Class warfare" ring a trailer bell in those red Lucifer's long ears of yours? At least like Jesus; Pres. Obama has "Obamacare" and "Obama's Class warfare" NOW attached to his name by your own irks. Eat your own words of "Obamacare" and "Obama's Class warfare" you and irks created for him.
      Like when Jesus was ask by some King: Are you’re the TRUE King and the Son of the Living God? Jesus answered: You said and I. Eat your words buddy!

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

      @CHE, I’m not being to be racist, just making a point that you that you are blind to what is happening in Washington. If you think that Obamacare is good, you just wait until you “have to buy” health insurance, and then you are going to start complaining about insurance rates. If you think Obama is taking care of you, you have another think coming.
      And it isn’t just him or Democrats, it’s the whole political system, Republicans included. In fact the two parties are so much alike there is hardly much difference–just a name. Oh, yes, they will squabble about different issues, but if the Republicans were in office it would be the Republicans “healthcare” system, not much different than what Obama’s plan is. In fact, Bush was in, they had a health plan in the works that was very much the same as Obama’s. Then the Democrats would be opposing them with the same accusations that Republicans are accusing the Democrats of. That is the way it is with politics.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Nonimus

    Isn't Heaven a dictatorship?

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

      I see no difference between imaginary Heaven and North Korea.

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

      Other than one is real, you mean?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • JM

      There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'

      C. S. Lewis

      March 6, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Bo

      No. It is a theocracy.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Bo,
      Unless you're saying there is more than one God, then a theocracy would also be an autocracy, i.e. a dictatorship. But a valid point none-the-less.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Nonimus

      @JM
      Perhaps I'm a bit slow, but how would one tell the difference?

      If I abdicate my will to someone or something else, then that is my will, right?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  18. TJ

    The Catholic church speaks for Jesus. They don't tell you who you should or shouldn't vote for. They pray for all politicians in the world. Dumb question.

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

      March 6, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Bobs your uncle

      Since when? Theyre first out of the gate with political support.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Bo

      Who has been blind-siding you? The Vadican wants to rule the world. They are doing a pretty good job: of the predominately Christian world, the U.S. id the "hardest nut to crack.". Just give them time.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Bo,
      They've tried, but haven't been doing as well for the last millennium or so, since the great schism, or at best for the last 500 years since Martin Luther.
      It takes awhile to dismantle an organization that once pretty much ruled the known world, but it'll get done someday.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Bo

      @ Nominus, It han’t been a millennium since the Vatican lost control, only since 1798 when the French took the Pope captive and the Papacy was not reinstated until 1929, thirty-one years later, by the Italian government. Agreed, the Church hasn’t had a much power since, but She is gaining power and given the chance the Papacy will again take charge of the world.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Peter Michael

      Some far right Catholic bishops in the last presidential election stated that it was not possible for a informed and faithful Catholic to vote for President Obama. Some right wing bishops and right wing Catholic groups emphatically state that clergy should deny the sacrament of holy communion to any Catholic politician who is not 100% pro-life. And, recently a Catholic priest refused the sacrament of holy communion to a Catholic lesbian at her mother's funeral. Though not endorsing a particular candidate, these actions leave little room for a Catholic to vote for any candidate other than a Republican. Is this politicizing religion into the public sphere?

      March 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  19. BOB

    So what are you saying sir? Are you suggesting that Jesus would vote Republican, a party that daily demonstratess it's hatred of fellow humans and preaches that we should never help others in need ? Shame on you and it saddens me that you call yourself a Christian.

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

      Until Democrats admit killing a baby in the womb is wrong, I can't vote Democrat and call myself a Christian

      March 6, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • Bo

      When Jesus came most of the Jewish people followed the teachings of the Pharisees, and their teachings were primarily what Jesus taught, but, and that is a big “BUT” the Pharisee leaders were so corrupt that Jesus criticized them, not so much their teaching but their corrruption.
      That is what is wrong with our politicans, it's not so much what they stand for, it's that they are corrupted.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Peter Michael

      Among the Greeks and Romans in Palestine as in the Roman Empire, infanticide was practiced with unwanted babies. Among the ancient Greeks, unwanted babies were placed on rocks and left to die. The early Christians did not go on a preaching campaign against infanticide but they did become known for rescuing such babies. Abortion is not going to be outlawed in this country having been affirmed by the US Supreme Court over 30 times since 1973. Those opposed to abortion will not win the hearts and minds by trying to force their views by either sanctimonious lectures or self-righteous hate campaigns against those who support reproductive choice. If Catholic Christians would adopt unwanted babies and help singleothers struggling with children and mentor young males in search of positive male role models, this would have far greater impact. 'Hate campaigns' in the name of 'a culture of life' is counterproductive. As a Catholic, I agree with St. Francis, 'preach always and everywhere, if necessary use words."

      March 6, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  20. My Take

    If this man existed today, he would probably ignore politics all together and take matters into his own hands. I would think he would travel the world without the fear of being murdered or spat upon and help any needy (truely needy) person he could.

    But back to the original question:
    If he did exist today (and somehow was an American) people would be filling in his name as a canidate so I would think he would vote for himself :).

    Yay for opinions!

    March 6, 2012 at 11:20 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.