After going through a few years of detoxification from American Churchianity, I’m ready to tell you a few tricks that your pastor, minister, or leaders might be playing on you right now, either consciously or unconsciously.
Edit: Note that not all people of the cloth do these things, but some do, and it’s enough to make a difference in how people vote. In other words, it’s ‘sanctified’ voter manipulation. I’m not singling out individuals here; in fact, the individuals I know who engaged in this type of thing, I haven’t known in years, and they’ve probably cleaned up their act since then. But I know very well that this kind of thing is going on.
More after the break.
Here we go with the list. Watch for the tell-tale signs of corruption!
- “I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, but…” Notice the ‘but’. This means that they are about to tell you exactly who to vote for.
- The ‘voice of God’ is telling you. Preachers call themselves the ‘man of God’. Wrong. You are the man (or woman) of God. The Spirit of Christ lives inside you. That man up on stage is just another man up on stage. But many dishonest leaders love exalting themselves up to the point where they are speaking for God himself. Charismatics especially eat that stuff up. Once these leaders have convinced you that their voice is more important than that of the Holy Spirit’s, they’ve got you.
- The prophets have spoken. Again, Charismatics. There are always leaders willing to stand up and say completely brain-dead things that are not from the spirit of God. They are just off-balance and weird people who many Christians disown because some of them are one step away from being carted off to a mental health facility.Side note: You know how to tell when someone is giving you false prophecy? It usually starts with, “I have a prophecy for you,” or, “this important modern-day prophet said…”
- Peer pressure. People of our economic group, skin color, or social group always vote Republican, or always vote Democrat.
- Voter guides. Fortunately we go to a church with an honest pastor, but one church we went to gave out ‘voter guides’, listing all of the hot-button issues, especially ‘sanctity of marriage’ and abortion. The candidates who do not respond to the questionnaire, they pull the candidate’s voting record, if they have one. This should be illegal, but as far as I know, it’s still a loophole that hasn’t been sealed.
- Inviting politicians to your church. There’s no clearer way for a pastor to say, ‘This guy is God’s choice.’ They’re not allowed to actually say that, because they run the risk of losing their precious 501(c)3 status, but they don’t need to. The politician is in the ‘house of God’, therefore the politician is obviously God’s choice, right?
- ‘Character Counts’, a.k.a. ‘Sanctified Character Assassination’. If a pastor can’t convince you to vote for his favorite based on the things above, the last thing he or she will try is to give you is a list of positive attributes Jesus had, or Moses had, or David had, and compare them to the candidate they don’t like. That candidate will always, always lose. Pundits like Erick Erickson and Glenn Beck have been doing this all season long. I have no doubt that there are hundreds of Christian leaders doing the same thing. They do it every two years.
Those are all I can think of at the moment. Keep in mind that your pastors, ministers, and leaders have already chosen their favorite leaders. I don’t know the honest way a leader should go about this. Some pastors have come out in public support of one candidate, some pastors say they won’t get involved, and they actually do that. You’ll never hear from their mouths who they are voting for. I tend to lean towards the latter type. I’m not going to ask our pastor who he is voting for, because I don’t want to put him on the spot, but I know he won’t tell me. But I don’t need to ask my pastor, because I can hear God for myself.
Don’t be fooled. You have the Holy Spirit, God himself, living inside you. Any pastor who pulls these tricks is either trying to deliberately fool you, or they are unconsciously doing it because that’s what their leaders did.
You have a sanctified conscience and the ability to hear directly from God as to who to vote for. You do not need a man or woman to tell you who their ‘anointed one’ is, because you can decide that for yourself.
How do you decide who to vote for? You spent time in the presence of God. Over several years, you develop ‘spiritual senses’ that allow you to detect when a candidate is saying one thing, but something else is clearly going on, a ‘spiritual lie-detector’, if you will.
I learned this year that the establishment specifically grooms candidates to ‘taste’ good to Evangelicals. They choose the hot-button issues and develop keywords that they can use as bullet points. Then they make sure their favorite can recite a 25-second prepared speech on all of them. It doesn’t matter what that candidate actually believes, or what he or she will do once in office. All they have to do is dangle the bait or cast the net, and the unwitting fish will come.
I learned to stop trying to legislate things of the heart. You cannot make laws about things that require millions of people to change their minds and hearts. If you try, it will always, always backfire.
I picked my issues. What are the main ‘pinch points’ that are affecting me right now? For me, it’s money. We’re trying to get out of debt so we can afford a house. The ‘Affordable Care Act’ made my health insurance costs go up while covering less things, so that means more money out of my pocket each doctor visit and every time we get a prescription. When our current president let the Bush tax cuts expire, our taxes went up. When the tax laws were changed, instead of getting to deduct medical expenses (which always gave us a refund), suddenly we lost the refund and actually started having to pay more taxes.
As a father, I want my kids to grow up in a house of our own, so we can raise them properly. Therefore, I’ve picked a candidate who has sound financial policies–lower taxes and replacing the ACA, both of which will help us significantly.
We also want to be able to give more to charity and to help others. The less money we give to the government, the faster we can pay off our debt. The faster we pay off our debt, the faster we can help ourselves. The faster we help ourselves, the faster we can start helping other people.
Safety is also of concern. I live in a safe part of the country, but there is very little stopping a terrorist from blowing up some important building the next time I go downtown. The fact that I could die, or my wife, or one or both of my daughters, if we just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The candidate who takes the toughest stance on terrorists is the one I’ve picked.
Calm down. Settle into the presence of God. Let him wash away your fears. Listen. You’ll learn about yourself, you’ll learn about people, and you’ll learn what you need to do. Then go do it. It’s that easy.
Now, I can’t say it will be easy in the outside world–you’ll get people cussing you out on Twitter, or family members who ‘can’t believe you would vote for him!’ or ‘absolutely cannot understand why you would vote for her!’ Or your friends will share the latest dumb things that a candidate did, based on whatever they saw in the mass media that morning, and they’ll ask you what you think. You’re going to have to develop a tougher skin if you are a believer who wants to be involved in politics, because you’ll also get friendly fire. Other Christians will attack you for your viewpoints.
When you’ve been bombarded, retreat to that space where it’s just you and the Spirit, and let him help you out with the thoughts of revenge or the feelings of hurt. Rest and recover. Then get back out there. The world needs Christians who can hear from their God. The only Jesus they will ever see is the Jesus who lives inside you right now. Since he lives inside you, you can be strong. He’s got you.