In This Election, It Isn't Easy Being Christian

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Christians object to their faith being appropriated for political purposes; preaching anger and revenge in the name of Christianity ignores the New Testament messages of grace, love, and inclusiveness.

As the 2004 election approaches, many Christians believe their fellow Christians are deserting the principles of their faith to follow a banner of anger, revenge, and punishment.

One of those is Gregg Hodgson, 67, an Indiana businessman and former banker who has served as campaign manager for Republican political candidates. A self-described "quiet Christian," Hodgson has devoted his recent years to helping people plan their own small businesses. "I've worked, one-on-one, with nearly 2,000 small businesses," he says. "It's the talent I've been given, and I try to make a difference with it before my own Judgment Day arrives.“

Today, Hodgson has decided to back the Kerry-Edwards ticket. "I'm rather conservative," he explains, "so I can't possibly support an administration that throws away a nice surplus and turns it into the worst deficit we've ever seen, in four years. The worst part of the deficit – which is being called our first 'permanent deficit' – was caused by Mr. Bush's lavish tax-breaks to the wealthy,” says Hodgson. “Even ignoring the way he exalts the rich, which of course isn't a Christian principle, what do we have to show for all that wasted money? Virtually nothing. It'll get even worse for the not-so-rich, too. Our treasury is broke, so we'll have to slash education, health-care and environmental programs.”

Hodgson also decries the Bush administration’s way of governing and campaigning, which he labels, "fear-based manipulation, with nothing behind it." He suggests that politicians who appeal to our primitive fears, angers, and desires for revenge are stuck in the Old Testament, and are forgetting the New Testament messages of inclusion and love.

Hodgson acknowledges that there was a political aspect to the decision by the early Christians to build on the Old Testament. But he worries when he sees modern-day Pharisees attempting to hijack Christianity for political purposes.

"The Old Testament can be handy for bad guys," Hodgson observes. "Whenever they want to appear 'righteous' while exalting the rich, bullying the poor, passing judgment on others, or attacking others with vengeful anger,” they usually invoke the Old Testament.

Real Christians should not be fooled, Hodgson warns. "We've seen plenty of demagogues in our time, wrapping themselves in the flags of Christianity or patriotism so they could gain power. Christ repudiated the vengeful aspects of the Old Testament in very strong language. He ordered us to treat others as we'd want them to treat us – the toughest lesson anyone has ever tried to teach human beings. That's why he accompanied it with blanket forgiveness. He knew we'd often fail at it!"

"Angry, judgmental, revenge-filled people may call themselves 'Christians,' or even 'Fundamentalist Christians,'" Hodgson concludes, "but the Prince of Peace would know them as the very people he came to save! He'd forgive them, of course, but he'd weep bitterly at the harm they do in his name."

For a copy of John Bugay’s “The Christian Right Need Not Fear a Kerry Presidency” and other articles on this topic, contact media@republicansforkerry04.org

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Bruce Mackinlay
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