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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. yeap that's right

    JHC.... keep it out of politics

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
  2. VoiceOf Truth

    The "religious right" is not the only group to try to invoke Jesus. There are those on the "religious left" who do so likewise, but the media chooses to only focus on the right. But just to clarify, Jesus did not seek a political transformation 2,000 years ago, but He did plant the seed for seeking political transformation when He returns. Recall Daniel 2, for He is that Stone that destroys the status at its feet mixed with iron and clay

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • TING

      Are you kidding me? How many Republican candidates actually said that "God" told them to run?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  3. Jack

    Jesus would vote for ALL of them. Seriously. I really doubt any one candidate has been "anointed" by God. Each of them are likely engaged to some degree in doing God's work, and since no candidate is perfect, a split vote would represent the varying degrees to which the candidates are doing God's will.

    And don't tell God He only gets one vote. He's bigger than that.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      I understand your point, but your last sentence trumps the rest of your comment. No politician is even close to doing the work of the Lord.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  4. kathy

    He wouldn't vote for anyone. His Father is JEHOVAH GOD and HE is IT; the Creator of everything. PERIOD.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Jack

      That wasn't very helpful.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Correct

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

      Prove it

      March 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • Please read the article instead of just the headline

      @sybaris....i don't even know why you are reading these articles if you want people to prove God is real.....unless you're just trolling.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  5. pablo the taco

    Really? Cnn.. Come on.. Jesus.. Who would Darth Vader vote for?? or maybe Spongebob?? How about who in their right mind would vote for any of these people. No one can save America not even Jesus. Just remember every great civilization crumbles... Just a matter of when..

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      But there's more to God's gift of life than the mere rise and fall of kingdoms and governments

      March 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • jimtanker

      You have NO evidence to support your claim.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  6. sean

    I would think that Christ would be a conservitive and not like the liberal conservitives in America.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      The Liberal-Conservative social divide existed back then as well, but both rejected Him, too

      March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Peggy

      Sorry, my Jesus is not Conservative for sure. Don't know what he is though but not Conservative.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:44 am |
  7. John Doe

    He wouldn't vote for any politician.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  8. nsdiver

    Jesus would not vote all first century Christians were neutral when it came to politics

    March 6, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  9. ObamaJoe

    The author is a pseudo-Christian or a non-Christian ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    It's like asking who will Jesus follow??????????????

    come on,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, dam,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    To Whom will a King of kings kneels down ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • keigo

      @ OBamaJoe....did you even read the article?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Amen

      March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  10. jimtanker

    Who would Bilbo Baggins vote for?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  11. DumbFounded

    I would have serious issues if Jesus voted at all. When last heard of, he was not an American citizen.

    If, say, a Mexican illegal, even though named 'Jesus' (HAY-SOOS), voted in an American election, most of us would cry blue voter fraud. It is interesting and ironic, however, that a lot of these most would have no compunctions whatsoever against – and would even hope for – an Israeli illegal (or even legal) named 'Jesus' voting in the same election, no papers demanded. Go figure!

    March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Alyssa

      Well you certainly picked a obscure perspective to focus on.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • DumbFounded

      Well, which would be the worse voter fraud – an illegal voting, or a dead person voting?

      In any case, Jesus (and I do NOT mean the HAY-SOOS variety) would fit the bill.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  12. Brian

    If I were a gambling man, if, I would bet that Jesus wouldn't vote for any of our politicians, especially the ones that try to use their faith and belief in god to garner extra votes.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Peggy

      Agreed but I still think he would lean towards Obama because of his respect, humility and heart for those less fortunate.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Please read the article instead of just the headline

      Did you even read the article? Your comment misses the point

      March 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  13. JPX

    That's like asking, "Who would Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny vote for?" Enough with the Jesus nonsense.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • What?

      No, JPX....it's not anything like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunner. Havn't you figured it out already that the US created holidays around Christmas and Easter to stimulate the economy. Jesus, on the other hand, is more real than anything you can possibly imagine....Santa Clause hasn't given nearly as much as Jesus.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Bryan

      Scratch a New Atheist, reveal a fundamentalist. You folks have become that which you loathe.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Need Jesus, my friend?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • Danno

      Glad to know that your opinion of Jesus is up there with the Easter Bunny... are you a Christian too? 🙂

      March 6, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Really?

      I highly doubt Santa Claus and the Easter bunny would have worn a thorned crown, gave into being nailed onto a cross, hung there to be mocked and spit upon, hated, stricken, pierced in the side and fed sour wine.......and then die.....so that criminals, the wicked and immoral people would not have to suffer God's holy wrath.....and all Christ asks...is you just believe who He is since He's taken the blame for YOUR sins. That's it.....how can you put faith in people who step on you, curse you, drag you into court, deceive you, murder you, etc....but can't give a man who died out of love for you...an ear to hear?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • jimtanker

      So, in other words you belong to a cult that worships human sacrifice.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Richard

      @Really, you can't sell the crucifixion of Christ as a real sacrifice. I mean he knew he was the almighty and that dying was just a blink of an eye for someone that's eternal. He also knew he was god and that he wasn't dying but returning to his true form as the creator of everything in existence. Oh and btw, Jesus wasn't the only person to die that way...many children and women died exactly the same way if not worse.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Keigo

      @ Richard –

      An almighty God could wipe out humanity and start over. Then Jesus would not have needed to empty himself to become mortal and die. However, out of love, God came down as flesh, as the man Jesus Christ so we would have a way out of damnation.

      As it is written, "Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil," (Hebrews 2:14)

      So only as a human could he become the perfect sacrifice for humanity. But yes, to your point, Jesus was resurrected and has returned to His glory as an Eternal being But that's why an eternal God needed to have come down to be that perfect manand sacrifice. No other sacrifice is qualified to satisfy God's wrath. And since He is resurrected, all those who believe in Him will also share in the same resurrected life on the last day. If Christ was not resurrected, Christianity would be only a delusion, for who would place their faith in a dead man or a god that cannot even conquer physical death?

      All those people who suffer unjustly on this earth, can place their faith and hope in Jesus, who has overcome this world. So that even if our sin destroys our physical life, we have hope to share in an eternal one in the end.

      But in the end, it's either you believe or you don't. Since God will not force you to believe in Him, it's your choice whether to accept a free gift or continue living in your own sin. Remember, Christians are only sinners...saved by grace.

      March 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  14. Kirk

    Ah, this mythical creature again, huh?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • JPX

      Word.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Forrest

      When it comes time for a person to meet his or her demise, that person will surely see there is a God and that he has a Son, named Jesus. I have visible proof that Jesus is real.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:42 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      And He loves you despite your mythical hatred

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

      Forrest,

      Me too, I also have proof.

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

      Christards are fcked up in the head.

      March 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  15. Last Call

    If Jesus were to vote, He would vote for the politician who stood for what He and his Father in Heaven taught and it certainly wasn't socialism or communism or party affiliation. He would look at the individual and what he stood for. Was he pro life, did he promote religious freedom to allow man to make his own choice, did the politician walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Point well taken

      March 6, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  16. +961

    This question is irrelevant lol. Jesus is Middle Eastern, he has no right to vote in the U.S. He never traveled here in person, and never went through the immigration process.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • sean

      Christ came to the new world ask a Mormon.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Peggy

      Yes +961
      Jesus is Middle Eastern. He is shorter than depicted. His nose is not as long and thin as in the picture above but his hair style is the same. His hair is shoulder length but slightly curly at the end and his skin much darker.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  17. Joe

    My bet is Ron Paul – the only Republican candidate that opposes use of torture and aggressive preemptive wars.

    "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God"

    It's hypocritical that so many Republicans call themselves Christians, while they support torture and preemptive wars that result in the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. Wars can only be justified when there is an eminent threat of attack for self-defense. Otherwise, it's manslaughter.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      I agree with your last paragraph

      March 6, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  18. TheThinker

    Let's see, the two Presidential nominees, despite the rhetoric, are always within 1% of each other. I think Jesus' focus would be on bigger problems in the world than which of the two basically good people becomes President.

    March 6, 2012 at 11:31 am |
  19. Fox me? Fox you!

    Who cares? He was at most an historical figure representing another myth/cult.

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

      Know about that of which you speak, otherwise one plays the fool.

      March 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • VoiceOf Truth

      Need Jesus?

      March 6, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Sybaris

      .......and he was the illigitimate son of a woman who was impregnated by someone other than her husband

      March 6, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  20. Jaya

    Would they still kill Jesus if He was back in town? Would He need a picture ID to vote?

    March 6, 2012 at 11:31 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.