A response to Jesse Johnson

Today, I discovered that I’m an epistemological narcissist – I don’t even know what that means, but I don’t think it’s a compliment, and it appears that I am this thing simply because I don’t accept the “settled science” of vaccinating my children early and often.

I agree with Jesse Johnson that “much of what passes as science these days is a bowl of lies. We are aware that popular science today makes basic mistakes, has all but discarded the scientific method, and is politically and financially driven. We get that the phrase ‘most scientists agree’ means nothing except that the facts are not in.” Right on! Preach it, brother! But then he then goes on to assert, with only a single sentence that makes even a passing reference to the facts(1), that vaccination science is settled and to disagree with him is to “deny science”.

Frankly, I really don’t wish to debate the vaccination issue in all its details here or anywhere else – the time spent would likely not change anyone’s mind, and would be better spent playing with my unvaccinated children (before I put them to bed laying on their tummies). What bothers me is this change in tactics to advance the Christian pro-vaccination narrative.

To put it bluntly, I will not support the idea that Christians from either side of the debate should resort to Saul Alinsky-style tactics to shame or mock others into siding with them.

This is exactly the strategy employed by those seeking to discredit biblical creation – don’t debate whether molecule to man evolution is scientifically possible, just mock people for believing that God created it all. It’s the same strategy employed by those preaching global warming (now climate change) – don’t discuss the facts, just mock those who disagree with you as “climate change deniers” or “skeptics” or some other terms of derision.

And now it’s the same with vaccinations from our Christian brothers – we call our brothers “science deniers” and “epistemological narcissists”. We say they’re “undiscerning” and “anti-neighbor”. All because we disagree with them regarding if or when they believe it’s best to vaccinate their children?

Truth is, we just disagree about the science of vaccinations in terms of both their risks and their benefits. I remind you that the earth used to be flat before it was round. There was a time also when bloodletting was also a settled science. After that, man-made global warming almost wiped us out so that we’d have to evolve from molecules all over again. There was even a time that the sun revolved around the earth – ah, for the good old days. More recently in the realm of heath science, settled science was that we had to get rid of all the saturated fat in our diets, but now low-fat diets are being blamed for dementia and maybe even Alzheimer’s. What passes for settled science changes. Chances are, our children will one day laugh at what we think is settled science today.

In light of this, I don’t know why it’s such a stretch to say that vaccination science isn’t entirely settled. You may think it is; that’s fine. I don’t. So we disagree. But I would strongly encourage both sides not to tie their theological horse to science that often has been shown to be more unsettled than we previously thought. Maybe I’ll get into details of how I’ve come to my conclusions another time, but regardless of my logic or yours, I do think we could exercise some grace towards those that see it differently. (For the record, the militant anti-vaxxers should be gracious in their critiques as well!)

Lastly, I believe that the Scriptures apply to all of our life and we should seek to apply Scriptural principles in every area of our life. To the extent that the goal of Jesse Johnson’s article was to do this, I applaud those intentions. We need to, as Christians, do a better job of living lives that do not separate everything into either the sacred or the secular – all of our life is God’s and we should seek to glorify Him in all things, including our healthcare decisions. However, as I’ve outlined above, our disagreement here isn’t really about doing what’s best for our neighbor, or any other Scriptural argument. The reason for our disagreement is based on what we consider “settled science” – not whether or not we we’re narcissists, undiscerning, or lack love for our neighbors.

I’m not here to judge my brothers and sisters in Christ for vaccinating their kids, even though, on the basis of our limited understanding of science, we disagree. I’d appreciate the same courtesy.

– Jeremy

P.S. Interestingly, Jesse’s 4th point in respect to why Christians should vaccinate only makes sense if we accept that there might be some risk. Perhaps we’re closer to agreement than we think.

(1) The “passing reference to the facts” I mention was regarding just how much the drop in measles cases should be attributed to the vaccination. Even this “fact” is disputed. The pro-vaxxers tend to give all the credit to the vaccine. The anti-vaxxers tend to dismiss the vaccine as all but irrelevant to the drop in measles cases. Frankly, the truth seems to be somewhere in between based on my research. (Btw, in discussing this, much will depend on whether you rely on data about measles cases or measles mortality, but I digress.) As they say, you can, after all, make the data say anything you want.

The Morning After

Last night was painful.  There is no sugar-coating it, not only did Romney lose, but conservatives lost just about everything else too.

Frankly, I went to bed last night fairly despondent about the future prospects for America.  I was disappointed, even disillusioned, and troubled by what I had just witnessed.

However, the sun still rose this morning.  God was still on his throne.  And I woke up to the noise of 5 children and one incredible wife.  (She wasn’t making noise, just the children.)

None the less, I feel like a boxer who got knocked out and is just coming back to his senses while still laying on the mat.  However, as I finish my second cup of my favorite India Monsooned Malabar coffee I think I’m starting to see more clearly again.

Now I know all the right cliches that we Christians are supposed to say, and perhaps even what you’re expecting me to say right now: God is sovereign – clearly Obama’s win was His will – God is allowing Romans 1 to play out – we need to pray for our leaders – we must respect the president – America is just our temporary home, we’re citizens of God’s kingdom – etc.

But you already know all that – I know that – I believe that – I try to live that.

I am still disappointed.  The America that I love is fast becoming something that I don’t recognize.  The fact that it is only my temporary home is comforting, but it hardly eliminates all the pain.

Frankly, upon reading some facebook updates from last night and this morning, I couldn’t help but be somewhat annoyed by the well intentioned (and theologically correct) reminders of those truths mentioned above.  It struck me as something akin to sitting your child down for a talk about forgiveness when he just got punched in the nose by a bully before you’ve stopped the bleeding nose.  Or perhaps like trying to console a grieving man by pontificating about the glories of heaven when his wife died just 15 minutes ago.

Despite my thoughts on the timing of such reminders, I don’t deny that we do need the reminder on occasion, so let’s return to the substance.  In that respect, nothing about our Scriptural duties changed last night.  Nor would anything have changed if Romney had won.  (Thankfully, such is the nature of all timeless truths of Scripture.)

What did change is that we, conservative Christians, got our head handed to us on a platter.  And it seems to me that we may be eager to absolve our own responsibility as citizens by offering platitudes about trusting God.  I don’t mean to accuse anyone of intentionally doing this, but each of us ought to consider his motivation carefully.  After all, no one would deny that it is easier to “trust God” with the outcome than to actually try to impact the outcome.

Last night, American voters in states across the country said they want bigger government, less freedom (including less religious freedom), more progressive economic policies, homosexual “marriage”, recreational use of marijuana, further erosion of states rights, and they want to keep Obamacare.  (I realize some of those issues are more clearly addressed in the Bible than others, but there are biblical principles that apply to all of them.)

Just look at the data, Romney got fewer votes (57.7m) than McCain in 2008 (59.9m).  Yes, the margin was much closer because Obama got substantially fewer votes as well (60.5m instead of 69.5 in 2008), but that still doesn’t bode well for anyone who has a different vision for our country than Obama’s.  Simply put, we’re not convincing anyone else that we have the solution.

As expected, Obama did have a problem with enthusiasm – his people did not show up to vote in numbers matching last time.  The problem is that no one else was was able to communicate a compelling alternative.  My sense based on the data thus far is that many of the “undecided” voters may have just stayed home yesterday, rather than voting against the incumbent like many expected.

The Democrat’s message is clear, they are Santa Claus and will give everyone everything for free.  It sounds good.

We must figure out how to clearly communicate an alternative.  We must point out the flaws in liberal policies but do so in a way that is winsome at the same time.  The core principles espoused by conservatives today are still, generally speaking, the same principles that have made America great for the past 236 years.   Somehow, we must get that message across.  Specifically, we must:

  • Communicate this message in a way that is clear, concise, and compelling.  I realize it’s hard to take on Santa Claus, but we must point out that Santa Claus is paying for your gifts by running up a credit card using the stolen identity of your 4 year old.
  • Communicate this message in spite of the predominately liberal media.  There is virtually no objective journalism anymore – ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC are all clearly biased in favor of the left.  FOX is on the right, but a 5 to 1 skew hardly gives Americans a fair picture of the news.
  • Communicate this message in spite of an education system that has been overrun by progressives, and has indoctrinated a whole generation to be inclined toward liberal and socialist policies.
  • Communicate this message in a way that it can be embraced by minorities, especially Hispanics. Demographics are destiny, and simply winning the white vote won’t win elections anymore.

There are certainly other messaging issues as well.  And the messaging problems go beyond economics, just ask Richard Mourdock about effective messaging on the abortion issue.  I’m not asking us to sacrifice principles that have made this nation great, but we must communicate them in a way that wins elections, or else the principles do us no good.

So what does all this mean?  Yes, God is sovereign over the nations and over the hearts of men.  I don’t mean to diminish that truth in any way.  However, God’s normative method of accomplishing his purpose is to work through us in what typically appear to be fairly unremarkable ways.  And in that respect, we’ve got a lot to do.

– Jeremy

P.S. I’ve noticed a few people trying to blame last nights result on election fraud.  I’m not ignorant to the fact that there may indeed be fraud at times in elections – that is always a possibility.  But that is not what happened yesterday.   This wasn’t a couple states with inexplicable outcomes.  This was almost every state voting left of what many (on the right) expected.  Blaming yesterday on fraud is like blaming the refs for one bad call when you lost a game by 5 touchdowns.  It only makes you a sore loser.



Election Results

The following are all my favorite links for tracking the election results tonight.  Election night is the one day every two years that I appreciate the work of the New York Times – I have numerous links to their site below.  Now that you’ve voted, watch the results come in, and party like it’s 1980!


NYT Presidential Big Board

US Senate

NYT Senate Big Board

US House

NYT House Big Board


Note that regarding the presidential race  – the results on this page are for Colorado ONLY.  Also, you may find it useful to change the “display” number to “20” or “all”.

Secretary of State Results

El Paso County

Note that even though some races of these races are statewide or national – the results here are for El Paso County ONLY.

Clerk and Recorder Results

Btw, if anyone is aware of a good site for tracking tonight’s results in the Colorado Legislature, leave it in the comments.  The Secretary of State has the results, but not a good way to track party control.

– Jeremy

Daily Picks – Nov. 5

Praying for America – Mohler

May God grant us mercy and grace as we seek to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens — and our responsibilities as Christians.  This world is not our home, but we do bear responsibilities as followers of Christ as we are living here.

May God bless America, not because this nation deserves to be blessed, but because He is a God of grace and mercy.  Oh God . . . save us from ourselves.

Reminder: Obamacare Funds Abortion – Here is a good explanation

Romney winning independents by 24 points?

According to a new CNN poll, Romney is beating President Obama 59 percent to 35 percent among independents even when third party candidates are included. The poll has the race deadlocked at 49 percent, but the sample includes 11 percent more Democrats than Republicans, 41 percent to 30 percent, a bigger gap than recent elections have witnessed.

Marketing Dynamics of Apathy

The goal of political marketers isn’t to get you to vote. Their goal is to get more votes than the other guy. So they obsess about pleasing those that vote. Everyone else is invisible.

Steakhouses do nothing to please vegetarians who don’t visit them, and politicians and their handlers don’t care at all about non-voters.

The magic of voting is that by opting in to the system, you magically begin to count.


Daily Picks – Nov. 2


Mormonism is not a “Sociological Cult” – Baptist Press

Land is right to point out the difference. He did not deny that Mormonism is theologically a cult, but he did imply a difference between a “theological cult” and a “sociological cult.” That’s a helpful distinction that, current discussions aside, is the view taught at almost all SBC seminaries.

The Silent Political Ad – TWS

October 29 Report on Iran’s Nuclear Program from AEI

Iran has the infrastructure and material to produce weapons-grade uranium. It has enough enriched uranium to produce fuel for five nuclear weapons after conversion to weapons-grade. Its expanding enrichment activities have significantly reduced the time required for it to produce weapons-grade uranium. The key accelerants for this shrinking timeline have been its growing stockpiles of low- and medium-enriched uranium, which is 90% of the way to weapons-grade, and an increasing number of centrifuges enriching.


HT – Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard

Daily Picks – Oct. 29

A few picks from the past couple days…

Men don’t Mother – Public Discourse

Arguments for the non-essential father may reflect an effort to accept the reality that many children today grow up without their dads. But surely a more effective and compassionate approach would be to acknowledge the unique contributions of both mothers and fathers in their children’s lives, and then do what we can to ensure that becomes a reality for more children.

The Only Two Polls That Matter – National Review

But of all the polls that have been released, there are two polls that will have Team Obama waking up in a cold sweat, knowing that if these polls are even somewhat accurate, they might be on the other end of a dramatic victory on Election Day: The party-affiliation polls from Gallup and Rasmussen.

Parenting Opportunities in the Election

It’s presidential election time, a singular opportunity for Christian parents to teach their children important lessons about how we relate to our leaders, and how our leaders relate to God. Our reaction to the election returns will speak volumes to our children about our understanding of submission and sovereignty. Have you thought about what your words and actions will teach your child when the votes have been counted?

– Jeremy

Should a Christian Vote for any Candidate Who is Less than 100% Pro-life?

 This post is the third of a four part series related to the 2012 Presidential Election.  Please consider reading the introduction which will also include links to all the articles as they’re posted.

The question is simple: should a Christian vote for any candidate who is less than 100% pro-life?

Before I get started, I’d like to point out that while the specific catalyst for this post is how it applies to Republican candidate Mitt Romney, there is also a much larger issue at stake here.  Directly, this specific issue of “mostly, but not totally pro-life” candidates comes up frequently.  Indirectly, the logic applied here will impact how we vote on other critical moral issues.

Current reality

Right now in the United States over 1.2 million babies are aborted every year.

Our Goal

I suspect we agree on the importance of Christians doing all they can to protect the lives of those who cannot protect themselves.  If we doubt the need for our involvement, there are plenty of Scriptural passages could be brought to bear – just for starters: Exodus 1:17-21, Psalm 82:3-4, Proverbs 24:11-12, Matthew 25:45, Luke 10:30-37, and James 1:27.

Romney’s Record

Mitt Romney was decidedly pro-choice for much of his time in the public spotlight.  This is common knowledge at this point.  However, according to Romney, he had a change of heart and is now firmly in the pro-life camp.

What are we to make of this?  To be clear, his history on this issue is complicated.  But does his record matter?

I’d certainly prefer a candidate with a stellar record on the issue, where I could see proof of their commitment even in the heat of political battles.  That notwithstanding, at least two of our recent presidents, Reagan and Bush 41, were also pro-choice prior to running for president, then ran as pro-life candidates.  Most importantly, they both governed throughout their presidency from a solidly pro-life position.  Clearly, a candidate’s record is important, but we should also recognize that genuine changes of heart on this issue do in fact occur.

There has also been a fair amount of hysteria stirred up regarding the 1999 investment of Bain Capital in a company called Stericycle, which is a medical waste disposal firm that, among other things, disposes of aborted fetuses.  Obviously, we would find involvement in such a company to be repulsive, but we should be careful not to jump to conclusions.  (If you want to research this issue on your own, Life News has a fairly comprehensive treatment of the issue that would be worth reading.)

First, consider that this story was pushed by the far left Mother Jones website in an attempt to dampen conservative enthusiasm for Mitt Romney.  Second, while Romney’s personal involvement in the deal has been debated (he retired from Bain in Feb. 1999 to run the Salt Lake Olympic Games), that isn’t even the issue.  It appears the first time Stericycle actively courted abortion providers was in 2003 with a concerted effort during the years of 2005-2007.  At this point, not only was Romney was long gone, but Bain Capital had sold its remaining interest in 2004.  Third, even if the Mother Jones version of the story were correct, Romney was still pro-choice at the time.  This doesn’t make it right, but it does mean that this issue wouldn’t reflect on his current pro-life position.

So was Romney’s pro-life “conversion” legitimate?  Only he knows for sure, but it would hardly be uncommon.  From 1995 to 2012 the number of Americans considering themselves “pro-life” increased from 33% to 50%, while the number identified as “pro-choice” dropped from 56% to 41%.  This represents approximately 15% of all Americans changing their view (source: Gallup).  Romney’s views changed over the same time as millions of other Americans.

9 Week Embryo – Used by Permission through Creative Commons license – Click image for full credit

Romney’s Current Position

In light of his consistent position over the past 5-6 years and the fact that his pro-life path is generally reasonable and believable (as outlined above), I’m going to take Romney’s current position at face value.

Romney believes abortion is wrong, but allows exceptions in the case of rape and incest.

I don’t agree with this view.  I believe that even in such difficult circumstances, killing an innocent human being is still wrong.  (For a more complete discussion of this question, Michael Stokes Paulsen recently wrote an excellent piece entitled, “The Right to Life and the Irrelevance of Rape“.)

So while I agree with Romney on 99% of abortions.  I believe his position on the 1% of abortions which occur due to rape and incest to be wrong.

This is not an inconsequential issue – those are still human beings being murdered.  However, the fact that we agree 99% of the time is not inconsequential either!

By the way, if you wish to read Romney’s official position it’s available on his website.  Now in light of Romney’s position, let’s look at the practical ramifications.

The Next 4 Years: There would be fewer abortions under Romney Administration than an Obama Administration

While it is impossible to determine exactly what the impact of either administration would be, we can make some pretty safe assumptions:

  1. Judicial Appointments – We know Republican Presidents have not always picked the best Supreme Court justices, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t picked some good ones.  We owe a debt of gratitude to Republican-appointed Justices like Alito, Thomas, Scalia, and (generally) Roberts.  With the next president likely appointing 2-3 justices on the Supreme Court I’d rather have Romney making those picks than Obama!  Why does this matter?  In addition to the possibility of seeing Roe v. Wade overturned at some point, we must recognize that even if we succeed in restricting abortion through legislation, those laws would almost certainly be litigated.  If we lose the court, our fight becomes infinitely more difficult.
  2. Working with Congress – If Republicans are able to gain control of the Senate (this looks to be about a 50/50 proposition right now), we have the opportunity for pro-life legislation in various forms – either directly or indirectly (such as restricting funds to Planned Parenthood).   An Obama Presidency would completely negate a Republican congress in terms of legislative advances on this front.
  3. Political Appointees, Executive Orders, etc. – Abortion policy can be impacted on a number of levels through appointments such as the Attorney General, Secretary of Health and Human Services, etc.  These actions tend to fly under the radar, but make a big difference.
  4. Reversing Obamacare – Obamacare has further entrenched the abortion culture by forcing insurance coverage of abortion, and making employers pay for this coverage.  Romney has promised to repeal Obamacare.  This will be difficult, but it would be near impossible by the next election cycle.  We must reverse Obamacare now before it becomes further entrenched.

Will the scourge of abortion be eradicated in the next 4 years with a Romney Administration?  Very likely not, but rather than see Obama further advance the culture of death, we could actually move the fight back in the right direction.

Beyond 4 years: The Path to Eliminating Abortion

The crux of the issue is simply this: Politics is the art of the possible – both in policy and in candidates.  We are not electing a dictator who can fix or ruin everything in their first week in office.  This is a good thing.

Understanding then that God has providentially placed us in a democratic system where change is, by design, excruciatingly slow, we should do what we can within the system where God has placed us.  We certainly want to see abortion eradicated, but if we settle ONLY for a complete ban on all abortions we will never arrive there.  This logic that applies to policy would certainly apply to candidates as well.

I admit it’s often frustrating to accept only a partial victory.  I realize progress is slow when we fight tooth and nail just for a minor victory.  But is this the right course?  Consider the following:

  1. Policy in the United States will only change legislatively at roughly at the same speed as public opinion – this means that we either wait for public opinion to come all the way around, or we take ground every time we have a chance.  (The exception to this is when there are power grabs by the court, such as Roe v. Wade.)  The most important task right now is to persuade other Americans that abortion is in fact, a great evil which must be stopped.  Apart from this we will lose the war.  (Btw, a great website in this regard is www.abort73.com.)
  2. Laws are instructive in morality – Over time, laws tend to inform the moral compass of the citizenry.  Consider slavery: after being outlawed for 150 years it would be virtually impossible to find someone today who would defend slavery on moral grounds.  We saw a similar impact when segregation was outlawed.  While you need some level of public support initially to effect change (see point 1 above), the fastest change in opinion can actually follow a change in the law.  In terms of abortion, this means taking even small victories, because every time we can further restrict abortion it has a teaching effect.  For example, by outlawing partial birth abortion it instructs the public consciousness and paves the way for further progress in the future.
  3. Our historical example in the abolition of slavery – Perhaps the best parallel to the current abortion debate is the effort to eradicate slavery 150-200 years ago.  Both are sins against humanity which have become deeply ingrained in our culture.  Both have always had a significant contingent of people who refuse to support the status quo.  Both saw decades of back and forth politically as the two sides vied for public opinion and small political victories.
    Simply reviewing a timeline of the abolition process makes this point abundantly clear.  A small victory here, another there… slowly changing the course of history.  Long before the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, or even the British Slave Abolition Act in 1843, the abolitionist movement fought many battles and incrementally won one small battle after another.  Of course, they lost some too.  But in the end, after almost a century of constant struggle, institutionalized slavery was gradually eliminated across much of the globe.
    I firmly believe, that just as with slavery, we will eventually see abortion outlawed in the United States.  I realize my optimism may not be shared by many, but I believe that by virtue of current technology, the diligent efforts of pro-life citizens, and the grace of God we will see this scourge reversed.

Policy vs. Principle

This ties into the points already discussed, but I want to mention it on its own for emphasis.  Simply put, while we should never compromise our principles, that doesn’t mean we don’t compromise on policy.  Principles don’t change.  Policy is a matter of applying those principles to the greatest extent possible – but policies will never be a perfect reflection of our principles.

Al Mohler made this point quite well in The Briefing, his daily podcast, on Friday.  The relevant portion starts around the 13 minute mark.

The Decision

So should a Christian vote for a candidate that is only pro-life in 99% of cases?  (When the alternative is a candidate who believes abortion should be completely unrestricted.)

Are you willing to tell the 99% of aborted children that they must continue to die until we can save the last 1%?  If your home was on fire, would you hesitate to save 4 of your children because you cannot save the 5th?

Will your ideological purity prevent you from taking policy victories that are within reach?

I hope not.

I invite you to join me in casting a pro-life vote for Mitt Romney.

– Jeremy

P.S. Still to come… Why not just vote for a minor party candidate?

Daily Picks – Oct. 27

From the past couple days:

Poll worker asks Obama for ID.

Are newspaper endorsements influential or predictive?

Liberal media points out the double standard of believing abortion in cases of rape and incest is permissible.

…and they point it out again.

Money advantage in the home stretch goes to Romney


Daily Picks – Oct. 25

3 links for today…

All the Current Polls – RCP

A Diminished Office – White House Dossier

No Liberal Bias Here – DesMoine Register

– Jeremy


Should a Christian Vote for a Mormon?

This post is the second of a four part series related to the 2012 Presidential Election.  Please consider reading the introduction which will also include links to all the articles as they’re posted.

Let’s just get the question out in the open so we can have a frank discussion about it.  Can a Christian vote for a Mormon in good conscience?  I believe the Mormon church (also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or LDS) has many teachings which are clearly unbiblical and place it far outside any attempt to define Christian orthodoxy, but does this impact our vote?

Perhaps the better question is, “should a Christian vote for anyone who is not a Christian?”

The Double Standard

What about voting for a Roman Catholic?  Most of those opposed to Romney on religious grounds would also take issue with the theology of the Roman Catholic Church (as would I), but I’ve heard nary a word about not voting for Paul Ryan or Joe Biden on account of their Catholic faith?  What about voting for a Jewish candidate?  What about an atheist, a Hindu, or even an “evangelical” whose fruit is questionable?

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City. Used by Permission through Creative Commons license – Click image for full credit.

As Christians, I think we sometimes put to much emphasis on the “cults” rather than simply recognizing them as just another person in need of Christ.  I believe that many, though not all, Christians who are opposed to Romney solely on the basis of his Mormon faith would not have to think twice about voting for a Catholic or a Jew.  This is a double standard.

Frankly, I believe this may be, at least partially, born out of fear because the LDS church is expanding at an exponential rate while our own evangelical churches are experiencing anemic growth.  But instead of making this an issue of evangelism, we’ve made it an issue of Presidential qualification.

With that out of the way, let’s go back to the proper question – should a Christian vote for anyone who is not a Christian?

The Biblical Standard

Before we go any further, we need to get one thing correct at the outset, Romans 13 makes clear the role of civil government.  In a nutshell, government is instituted to restrain/punish evildoers and to protect those who do right.  That is the biblical role of secular government.  (Note that the purpose of government is not to advance our faith – that’s our job.)

Based on the biblical purpose of government, the single most important factor in choosing our leaders is then, presumably, to choose a leader who has a solid understanding of morality – what is right and what is wrong.  Certainly a person’s faith will inform their moral calculations, but their faith is not, in and of itself, the issue at hand.

Beyond this, the Bible never seeks to offer specific criteria for the selection of civil leaders.  It would certainly stand to reason that we may prefer a Christian where possible.  After all, we are to pray for the salvation of our present leaders per I Tim 2, so certainly electing a believer at the outset would seem good.  However, saying this is preferable is hardly the same as saying we must vote only for a Christian.

We certainly understand that in selecting church leaders there is an abundance of Scripture which addresses spiritual qualifications.  The Israelites had spiritual requirements for leaders as well, but these were leaders whose authority also extended into spiritual matters.  God is clearly concerned about the spiritual qualification of spiritual leaders.

However, one of the defining principles of the American experiment was that the civil leaders were to have no jurisdiction of spiritual or ecclesiastical matters.   As such, there are no specific spiritual qualifications.

Furthermore, God has worked through sundry non-Christian leaders throughout history to fulfill the biblical purpose of restraining evil, punishing evildoers, and protecting those who do right.  Even beyond that, these non-Christian leaders have been used to further the spread of the Gospel, raise up other Christian leaders, and protect God’s people.  Biblical history is itself replete with such examples.

During the the 2008 primary season, Dr. Wayne Grudem had the following to say:

“For evangelicals to support a Mormon candidate would be similar to supporting a conservative Jewish candidate—someone we don’t consider a Christian but who comes from a religious tradition that believes in absolute moral values very similar to those that Christians learn from the Bible…

Or have we come to the point where evangelicals will only vote for people they consider Christians? I hope not, for nothing in the Bible says that people have to be born again Christians before they can be governmental authorities who are used greatly by God to advance his purposes. God used Pharaoh, King of Egypt, to raise Joseph to a position of authority over the whole country, so he could save his people from famine (Genesis 41:37-57). God used Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, to protect and raise up Daniel and his Jewish friends to positions of high authority over Babylon (Daniel 2:46-49). God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to restore the Jewish exiles to their homeland (Isaiah 45:16; Ezra 1:1-4), and used Darius, King of Persia, to protect the Jewish people as they rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 6:1-12). God used Ahashuerus, King of Persia, to raise up Esther as Queen and to give Mordecai high authority and honor in his kingdom (Esther 6:10-11; 8:1-2, 7-15). In the New Testament age, God used the peace enforced by the secular Roman Empire, the Pax Romana, to enable the early Christians to travel freely and spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world.”

(You can read Grudem’s full article here.)

I believe that to categorically declare that we must vote only for a Christian candidate is to add to the clear teachings of the Scripture.  I believe the burden of proof rests with those who believe God has forbidden us from voting for a non-Christian candidate in civil government to make that case.

The Priority of Religious Liberty

One of the first, if not the first, priority of civil government should be to ensure freedom of religion.   In fact, the verse I mentioned earlier in I Tim. 2:2 instructs us to not only pray for the salvation of our leaders, but also that they would allow us to worship freely.

Why is religious liberty important?  Because true faith in Christ must be voluntary.  Jesus never forced faith upon anyone.  He simply proclaimed the truth, and allowed people to respond.  (Through the work of the Holy Spirit, yes, but I’m speaking here in human terms.)  Our desire should be that the government simply stay our of the way, and allow us to live and preach the Gospel, so that people may choose Christ for themselves.

How does this “justify” voting for Mitt Romney?  May I answer that with another question… If religious liberty is the first priority of civil government, would it not be hypocritical for us to then require a religious litmus test for our vote?

How can we say that our primary concern is for the government to allow all people to worship freely, and then immediately qualify that by saying that we cannot support a person of any other religion to be a civil leader?

The Job Description

Would you hire a Mormon?

If I were to hire a mechanic, I would certainly ask him about his experience in auto repair, types of cars he is familiar with, perhaps some technical questions to test his knowledge, but whether or not he was a Christian would be immaterial to whether or not he’s a good mechanic.

Of course, I also need my mechanic to be honest and show up on time, so assuming I’m convinced of his mechanical skills, I’ll also take the conversation another direction as I seek to understand his work ethic and his moral basis. (Note that we don’t even need to have this conversation unless he’s already qualified as a mechanic!)  His faith certainly may come up in this conversation, but only to the extent that it impacts his moral character or ability to do the job required – not as it impacts his eternal destiny.

But, many would say, surely hiring a mechanic isn’t the the same as hiring the President!  Let’s take a look at the president’s job description – that would be Article 2 of The Constitution.  The primary constitutional roles of the president are as follows:

  • Commander in chief
  • Negotiate treaties
  • Appoint judges and ambassadors
  • Provide information to Congress regarding the “state of the union”
  • Convene both houses of congress on extraordinary occasions
  • Receive ambassadors and other public ministers
  • Take care that the laws be executed
  • Commission officers of the United States

That may not be a complete list, but I don’t think I’ve missed anything major.  Must a person be a Christian to properly assume these duties?

Let’s go back to the question about whom you would hire.

What about the surgeon who is going to operate on your child?  No doubt, you’d like it if he were a believer.  It would be comforting to know that he prays for guidance and seeks God’s help.  However, faced with the choice between a Christian (btw, he’s a resident just out of med school) or a Hindu (he’s a top expert in his specialty with 30 years experience), who would you choose?  I would suggest that to choose the Christian would not only be wrong, it would be foolish and a dereliction of your parental duty.

Likewise, when hiring a President, let’s make sure we’re focused on the right questions.  Their faith is not, in and of itself, one of those questions.

The Bully Pulpit

One of the specific critiques which I’ve heard more than once is that a Mormon President would lend new legitimacy to the LDS faith due to the prestige of the office of the president.  This is highly speculative, and could theoretically be true, but could just as easily go the other direction.  For example, it could make it more difficult for a LDS missionary to proselytize a Democrat!

Simply looking at historical precedent, there don’t appear to be any major religious realignments on account of any President’s particular religious affiliation.

By the way, I tried to do a simple analysis with our first Roman Catholic president (John F. Kennedy) to see if there had been an appreciable impact on Roman Catholic membership due to his election.  Unfortunately, it appears there is going to be nothing simple about such an analysis since Vatican II occurred in the early 60’s, and America experienced an influx of Latin American immigrants starting in ’64.  Kennedy was President from ’61-63, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be able to test any theories on the that historical precedent.


I do not believe we should apply a double standard to members of the LDS church.  The Bible clearly establishes the role of civil government to restrain evil, but does not require that we vote only for Christians.  We must not be hypocritical in our commitment to religious liberty.  We need to make sure we use the right criteria for “hiring” a President.  And I do not believe the concerns about a potential Romney presidency becoming a platform for the Mormon faith are valid.

The fact that Mitt Romney is a member of the LDS church will in no way impact my vote for him this November.

– Jeremy