Political elections are as much about those doing the electing as it is about those eventually elected. If each vote represents what a voter believes and hopes for, then the person elected is really a magnification of the desires voters happen to have.
This is why national elections are so fascinating. Every four years, Americans collectively paint and present to the world a picture that communicates their aspirations and fears. It is a picture that enables us to see the character of a nation.
When I first moved from Canada to the United States 30 years ago, I was told repeatedly that America is a Christian nation. It isn’t simply that America has many self-professing Christians living within its borders. The identity of America as a whole, its history and its destiny, are somehow tied to Christianity.
Political leaders feel the need to appear Christian, say Christian-sounding things, show up at Christian institutions, and end their speeches with “God bless America!” American money proclaims “In God we trust.” What could be more Christian than that?
An atheist voter in Iowa asks presidential hopeful Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) how he plans to uphold the rights of those whose beliefs don’t align with his. (Justin Scott/YouTube)
The current election cycle is demonstrating (once again) that the rhetoric and mythology of a uniquely Christian America should come to an end. Why? Because the votes don’t lie.
Though voters may speak piously and rather vaguely about Christian values and ideals, polls and election results communicate clearly that this is a nation consumed by fear, anger and suspicion, none of which are Christian virtues.
[‘I’d like to punch him in the face’: The incredible shrill of this election season]
If voters were serious about presenting to the world a picture of a Christian America, they would need to be painting with the colors of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, fidelity, gentleness and self-control, because these are the colors that, as the Apostle Paul said (in Galatians 5), witness to Jesus Christ and the power of God at work in their lives.
Of course, Americans and their leaders will continue to speak in the name of God, even profess grand things about God, as they make their case for American Exceptionalism and the righteousness of the American Way. But from a scriptural point of view, it is all rubbish. What matters is not what you say but how you live. And from a Christian point of view, nothing matters more than living a life that is inspired by God’s love for everyone.