Christ Doesn't Need a Super Pac
October 19, 2016 | by: Dave Maniquis | 1 Comments
Posted in: Theology
It’s an understatement to say that this looming presidential election has been odd. The electorate is being bombarded with the candidates’ dizzying rhetorical speeches, bumper sticker banalities, fanciful and acrimonious tweets and sound bites. Oh, let’s not leave out those campaign slogans and presidential preferences on placards stuck into front yards; real- estate strongholds of political preference, ranging from impeccably manicured lawns to just good ol’ weeds and dirt. Like two-dimensional hands on rigorous forearms waving as you pass by they make an appeal for hope: “I know best who can lead our country.” Accordingly, everyone has a preferential voice. It’s as it should be in a democracy, right? And we ought to be grateful for living in a country that allows us to vote for the next rotation at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
However, I left out the granddaddies of rhetorical persuasion. It’s a verbal and visual presidential onslaught that still cannot be ignored. If you watch T.V. at all, sooner or later you enter the world of the Super PACS. They’re essentially what were known as “traditional-action committees” but now they’re on steroids. They advocate for the election or defeat of a candidate through the purchase of T.V., radio, web and print advertising. And, of course, there’s conservative Super PACS and liberal ones just like previous presidential election cycles.
And to keep the political process “pure” (don’t be cynical now!) Super PACS are prohibited by the Federal Election Commission from contributing money in cooperation with a political candidate, their campaign or political party. Nevertheless, Super PACS are not without controversy. Critics maintain that they simply corrupt the political process. That’s because self-interest groups and corporations thus have a role in electioneering; not to mention the loophole of nonprofit groups being allowed to contribute to the PACS without disclosing the source of the moola. Individuals can shield their identities and basically launder big bucks through social welfare organizations and 501 (c) groups. It allows so-called dark money to pour into elections. And Super PACS can spend unlimited amounts for their candidate or against the opponent. There’s no limitation.
At bottom, what’s the point? With so much money flooding into these PACS the modus operandi is to dig up and make up stuff on an opposing candidate. If not made up, they can merely spin any information and/or misdeeds from an opponent’s past or current life to denigrate their character or prove their inability to lead the country. Now, although “technically” the candidate isn’t permitted to directly elicit support or cooperation from these Super PACS, they can condone what they allege. You may have read or heard it, “I’m Joe, or Josephine, Blow and I approve this message.” Wink, wink. Consequently, they either wink or give the high sign to messaging that can crush their opponent or make themselves seem larger than life itself.
Disheartened yet? Don’t be. As Christians we have an authority for guiding us through this maze of power jockeying and plain old mean-spiritedness. Regardless of who your presidential candidate of choice (or non-choice) may be at this point, we are called by our faith in God to filter this mess. We have His written Word to sort this out individually in our personal relationship with Him through Jesus His Son and guidance by the Holy Spirit to confirm in our hearts what His written Word says about such matters. I do feel civilly privileged to have the right to vote for the president of the country in which I live. And I have always exercised that right for which so many folks in this country have fought and died for to defeat global tyranny in major wars, and who are making enormous sacrifices to rub out international terrorism that now threaten the homeland.
So, how do I sort this out in my mind and heart; especially considering that the modern democratic process is relatively new? It dates from later eighteenth century. But the writers of Scripture were writing within the political structures of ancient society which was monarchic—autocratic. No voting. In fact, what political instruction does Paul provide to the early church? Paul writes, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1; TNIV) In Titus 3:1 he further emphasizes, “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good.”
Lest we forget, Paul is instructing Gospel living within the 1st century Roman political system. Inasmuch as there’s instruction to an “electorate”, the principle is obedience to civil rule unless there’s pressure to deny Christ and His Gospel (Acts 4:17-20). That’s normative for the Christian. Given that, if I have an opportunity to cast my vote for who I believe can best lead our country in the 21st century, all the better. However, I feel no guilt not voting for a particular candidate by the prodding of others, even certain evangelical leaders who may attempt to push me in one direction or another. I feel no guilt in not voting at all. The Bible is silent on voting. Have I voted in the past for a candidate who, based on their record and the history of their publically revealed character, appears to align with my faith in Christ and Gospel principles? Yes, indeed. And I do value that privilege. However, if there’s doubt I want to avoid attaching my star to any political figure. They can and do change like the wind based on popular downdrafts and cross currents. I always try to have my biblically informed conscience inform my choices—whether they are in the political area or elsewhere. Let’s face it, sometimes that isn’t always clear; other times it is. That’s why we saturate our biblically informed conscience with prayer, right?
One among many things the Bible is not silent on is the unequivocal issue of who is ultimately the ruler of my mind and heart, the world and all of creation. That Person needs no Super PAC. And I didn’t vote for Him; I couldn’t for He chose me. Despite the civil voting privilege given to me, I cherish the Christian freedom I have in Jesus eternally more. I am so comforted by the fact that God establishes all ruling authorities even through the secondary means of an electorate; and I have the Christian and civil freedom whether I choose to participate or not. Unfit is the operative word bandied about during this election. Well, Raymond Ortlund, Jr. says it poignantly, “Unlike every other human leader in the sorry length of our history, Jesus is literally qualified to rule the world.” Praise Him that He is doing so during this presidential election.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Psalm 146:3–4 (NIV84)
Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.