A recent headline at The Christian Post stated, "Leading Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore says Christians should vote for third-party or write-in candidates rather than settle for the 'lesser of two evils'."
Jesus Christ is not on the ballot in 2016. Consequently, none of the candidates can claim "no evil" as a campaign motto. I suggest that if Moore and others evangelical leaders who are sounding the horn of "idealism" want to find the perfect candidate in 2016, then they only need to look in the mirror. They're it.
Moore's sermonizing, to "vote for third-party or write-in candidates," sounds high-minded, but if adhered to, this would guarantee a President Hillary Clinton Inauguration on January 20, 2017. We must not downplay the dangerous effects of living under a radicalized, secular United States Supreme Court. Clinton's legacy of SCOTUS picks will remain long after her Presidential term of office.
As a positive example of this, consider that Justice Antonin Scalia was appointed by President Reagan, then served for nearly 30 years after Reagan left office, and now will continue to impact the judiciary posthumously through his legal decisions and the mentoring of generations of lawyers who came behind him.
The next generation of Christians in America will be left to suffer the possible consequences of our inaction or involvement with idealism at the ballot box. Of course, a half-century from now, neither myself nor Moore will have to suffer the possible consequences, when officials say "compromise your beliefs or face incarceration." Such threats are mostly only dark clouds on the horizon at this point, kept in the distance by the mercy of God and His providential hand in ordering our government.
And God's providence to us is most directly seen in the leaders we elect to office at every level of government.
The naiveté of evangelical leaders who like to dabble in politics is staggering. Most lack an elementary understanding of the currency of grass-roots, precinct-level trench warfare. These leaders are politically unarmed. Alas, somebody's values are going to reign supreme. The sad fact is that, in the civil government arena, most don't set the temperature, but only report what's occurring in the loss of religious liberty.
An ethicist is one whose judgment on ethical and moral issues can be trusted, which makes it possible for others to rely on that individual's approximate judgment. Moore's actions have raised questions of his judgment, even among his peers:
For example, last August (2015) Russell Moore hosted his preferred candidates for president—Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio—at a SBC meeting in Nashville. The controversy exploded because he excluded the only two Southern Baptist candidates in the race: Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Mike Huckabee.
And Moore later made the following statement, "I would say that Ted Cruz is leading in the Jerry Falwell wing, Marco Rubio is leading the Billy Graham wing and Trump is leading the Jimmy Swaggart wing." Equating Rubio as the leader of the "Billy Graham" Christians was, of course, a passive means of endorsing Rubio—especially when contrasted to the disgraced Swaggart or, in Moore's opinion, the late, combative Falwell.
His actions caused concern among some Southern Baptist faithful: Does the ERLC represent the SBC? by Will Hall.
Now, here is the real danger with pushing for "third-party" or "write-in" candidates.
It has been reported that 500 evangelical pastors are running for local government in 2016: city council, county commissioner, school board, mayor or state representative.
But Moore's "lesser of two evils" counsel, if followed, could wipe the electoral prospects for many of these men and women. Voting for "third-party or write-in candidates" is not an option; it's just a sure way for defeat up and down the ticket. These people deserve our gratitude, our prayers and our political full-court press to see that they win on Nov. 8, 2016.
As we recruit, train and organize to place conservative, principled Biblical-based leaders in public office, Christians can no longer sit in the bleachers. America's survival depends on it, for virtue is a key component of freedom. We must organize locally and win from the bottom-up instead of the top-down. Christians must begin to win incrementally by taking on small races that are more psychologically winnable.
In 2016, we intend to focus on moving spiritual men and women to the Public Square, rather than waste time defending national candidates who are saying things that are "indefensible."
How did America arrive at this point? The Northwest Ordinance language, ratified on July 13, 1787, illustrates the original intentions of America's Founders concerning the role and function of government in society:
Article I—No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship or religious sentiments, in the said territory.
Article III—[Christian] Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
Christians must re-engage the culture by voting for candidates who best represent biblical values on the ballot on Nov. 8. We must work to increase our numbers at every level, not just the presidency.
The good news is that "God lacks neither the desire nor the power to deliver his people. The only issue is whether they will step forward in repentance and faith to meet him when he comes and answer Him when He calls."*
The antidote to saving America is simple, though the recovery could be a long-hard slog. But take heart and take hope in God's kindness. He can bring a resurrection to America, for God specializes in resurrection moments:
"'Who would think when Jonah was in the sea (Jonah 3), that he would preach at Nineveh? Who would think when Nebuchadnezzar was in the forest (Daniel 4), that he should reign again in Babel? Who would think when Joseph was banished of his brethren, that his brethren should seek unto him like his servants?
"'Who would think when Job scraped his sores upon the dunghill, all his houses were burned, all his cattle stolen, and all his children dead, that he should be richer than ever he was? These are the acts of mercy which make the righteous sing, "The Lord hath triumphed valiantly.' (Exodus 15:21). Henry Smith."**
We simply need a Gideon or Rahab to stand.
* John N. Oswalt, Isaiah Commentary (Is. 50:2)
** Charles H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David
David Lane is the founder of American Renewal Project.
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