By Lynn Paris
The other day I received a highly disturbing email. It came in the form of a rally to prayer, and because it came from a lovely, godly woman, a true “prayer warrior” from my church with a kind and loving heart, I naturally began to read it. But this wasn’t the usual request to pray for someone we knew who was in physical or emotional pain. It wasn’t even the generic kind of prayer for our troops or for the missions of the world she occasionally sends. This prayer was frightening. It frightened me because I’m not sure this normally compassionate, and amazingly vital 85-year old woman truly understands what she is perpetrating. It would frighten me more if she does.
It began by asking some questions.
“What in the world is going on and why are we being apathetic? Why aren't we praying?
Fair enough, I thought. And then it made a statement.
“Our God is a mighty God who is waiting patiently for us to raise our voices to heaven to stop the tide of the anti-Christ actions in our world today”.
Well, there are certainly enough things going on in our world today—genocide, hunger, disease, religious persecution, war, poverty—that would qualify as antithetical to Christ; I still had no problem.
But that’s when it all became surreal. Because we weren’t being asked to join in prayer against world hunger or poverty. We were being told that:
“It is time for all Christian Americans to raise the battle cry and take our nation back. Maybe McCain on his own cannot defeat Obama, but our God can and He will if we take to our knees in prayer and raise a mighty cry to the heavens to "Save us O Lord."
OK, so this was political, the very thing I have railed against in prior columns. The presumption of this email was that there is a candidate whom God supports, and one He doesn’t, and that it is incumbent upon all good Christians to pray and vote the same way. Misguided, I thought, and maybe even reflective of a certain southern conservative Christian mentality, but easy enough to ignore. Except that I couldn’t, because it got worse.
It wasn’t Christian. It wasn’t kind or truthful or any of the traits I believe should be associated with a prayer sent out in the name of Christ. It pandered to the ignorance of some, and spread half-truths and propaganda that had the potential to sway others. It contained sentences like the following:
“Now we find we have a charismatic candidate for president who does not respect our flag and refuses to wear one on his lapel except when it becomes politically expedient and whose own wife and pastor that he loves profess to have strong anti-white feelings, and we sit back and say "it is a given, we can do nothing."
“We have the power to change the course of this election and to keep a man as suspect as Barack Obama from leading our country to who knows where with his message of "change" - a change which I fear will be away from our Christian ideals and away from Christ and further away from one nation under God to one nation under Allah.”
“We can stop all these atrocities against God's commands that have taken root in our country through something as simple as sincere prayer, a call to God to deliver us, and to protect us from the evil that is upon us.”
Now, I know Christians, and I know conservative Republicans. Some of my best friends are both. And I know that many of them will be voting for McCain for what they believe are valid reasons. Some are concerned about the spending programs under a democrat, or worried about Supreme Court nominees. Some genuinely prefer McCain’s policies, or his stand on the war in Iraq. Some simply admire John McCain, and are impressed by his heroism and years of public service. Those are all good and fair reasons to cast their ballots for McCain and not for Obama.
I also know Christians—as well as people of any and all persuasions—who are conflicted. They are unhappy with the way our country is perceived around the world. They sense that we need big change, but are unsure of the young and unseasoned candidate. They might prefer McCain’s experience, but are concerned about his age, or four more years of the same old thing. Some believe in Obama’s promises while others are not convinced. Some are unhappy with McCain as the Republican nominee. Some believe that Obama will signal an end to a sorry chapter in the history of this country. I feel sure that in the end they will all vote their conscience, after taking a long hard look at the candidates and the issues.
And of course, I also know people who always vote the party line and will continue to do so. I know people who are planning to cross that line, perhaps for the first time in their lives. I know ardent McCain supporters and fervent supporters of Barack Obama. And among those people, I also know they believe that both men love their country and love their God; their votes will be cast for other reasons.
But it is MY prayer that none of these people will be voting for or against Obama because they believe he’s a Muslim intent on making us “one nation, under Allah,” or that he is “anti-white” or that he represents “the evil that is upon us.” That would have nothing to do with God, and nothing to do with being Christian. That would simply be a shame.
me your opinions at LParis@netlistings.com