Christians and Obama

Many of my evangelical friends have fretted over how Obama received support from Christians in the recent election.  One of our blog readers, Kay, has mentioned her dismay about this many times and asked how we, as Christians, should respond.

Before I say just a few words about our response, I wanted to give you the facts about how religious groups voted in the previous election.  This chart comes from an article in  a March 2009 First Things magazine, written by John C. Green.

Election Chart

After a quick perusal of the chart, you can see which groups shifted support to the Democrat, Obama.  Evangelicals, as a whole did not support Obama, and there was no significant move from the 2004 election.  The two groups that registered significant changes from the 2004 election were conservative Catholics, who swung 17 points from 2004, and ethnic Protestants (primarily Hispanics) who swung 27 points from 2004.

Read the First Things article for some insight into these shifts, but conservative Catholics and Hispanic Protestants were the two major changes from the 2004 election.  They helped Obama win the election.

Now, how should we respond?  I believe we are to respect the office of the President and we are to love and pray for the President.  God has placed him in authority over our nation, and as Christians, we are to respect the authority of those placed over us.

However, where he promotes ideas that are clearly unbiblical, we are to oppose him.  The ultimate authority to whom we answer is God, and where Obama disagrees with God’s word in the Bible, we are to align with God, not Obama.  I fear that the many Christians who voted for the pro-abortion Obama will have some serious explaining to do when they face God.

Our disagreements with Obama must be carried out within the current legal system.  The only time Christians should actually break laws in civil disobedience is when the following four criteria are met:

  1. When the laws are clearly counter to God’s word
  2. When the laws command us to do evil
  3. When the laws negate freedom
  4. When the laws are religiously oppressive

When we engage in civil disobedience, we must refuse to obey the law in a nonviolent way and we must accept the consequences of our disobedience.

Now, not all Christians agree with this viewpoint on civil disobedience, but I think that the Bible supports this position.  If you have a differing viewpoint, let us know, and we can discuss.

  • decodingyou

    I am pro-life. I am a member of a southern baptist church. I voted for Obama. One reason I did so was because of his views on abortion. I am tired of pro-life candidates speaking against abortion, but not willing to speak about ways to lessen the abortions we have in this country. I was impressed with Obama during the campaign when he spoke about education to lessen unintended pregnancies, and I was even more impressed with his Notre Dame commencement speech. Getting the supreme court to overturn roe v wade would be wonderful, but its unlikely to happen anytime soon. Why can’t the pro-life group get together to fund pregnancy care centers for young mom’s, make adoption easier for both sides, fund sex ed so kids know their options, etc, etc, etc?

  • “God has placed him in authority over our nation”
    No, the American people did that.

    ” I fear that the many Christians who voted for the pro-abortion Obama will have some serious explaining to do when they face God.”
    – Many Republicans and Christians have some serious explaining to do when they empowered Bush, twice, despite an illegal war and thousands dead.

    Christians are pro-life when it suits them.

  • Bill Pratt

    decodingyou,

    I agree that being pro-life is not just about overturning Roe v. Wade. In fact, the church I attend (which is Southern Baptist) financially supports a local pregnancy care center, as does my family. We also donate significant money to a local charity which houses homeless pregnant women.

    I suspect that many pro-life folks do the same kinds of things. But none of that has anything whatsoever to do with whether abortion is morally right. Obama, as defined by pro-choice and pro-life proponents, has had an extremely pro-abortion voting record as a politician. Why do you think that Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups raised so much money and campaigned so hard for him? Every single pro-life organization came out against Obama and every single pro-choice organization came out for Obama. Are they all wrong? Did they not understand his positions? Here is a quote from the Washington Post, a liberal newspaper, about Obama and abortion:

    But Obama’s record on abortion is extreme. He opposed the ban on partial-birth abortion — a practice a fellow Democrat, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once called “too close to infanticide.” Obama strongly criticized the Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth ban. In the Illinois state Senate, he opposed a bill similar to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which prevents the killing of infants mistakenly left alive by abortion. And now Obama has oddly claimed that he would not want his daughters to be “punished with a baby” because of a crisis pregnancy — hardly a welcoming attitude toward new life.

    Out of curiosity, I would like to ask you why you think Obama will decrease abortion? How do you rationalize the above quotes with your pro-life views? What was it about his commencement speech that you liked? What sort of Supreme Court Justice do you think he will appoint?

    God bless,
    Bill

  • Bill Pratt

    Any serious student of ethics knows that the killing of innocent unborn children and the question of just war in Iraq are two completely different topics. If you cannot understand how going to war to defeat an aggressive and evil dictator is different from not wanting millions of children inside the wombs of their mothers to be killed, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    By the way, let’s say that for argument’s sake, that they are the same thing – they are both about life. They still cannot be compared because abortion is killing around 1 million people per year in the US and around 42 million people per year in the world (these facts according to Guttmacher Institute). Yes, thousands dead in Iraq is tragic, but it absolutely pales in comparison to the millions killed every year by abortion.

    It is because of these kinds of numbers that pro-life proponents consider abortion to be the number one life issue, by a long shot.

  • kay

    Bill, are you the one that wrote this? Thank you.
    You said in your opinion the Bible supports civil disobedience. I thought there was something about it in the Bible. What is the scripture?

    So this brings another question to mind — if we show our disapproval of certain changes of government laws or agendas, are we going againt God’s will of getting closer to the Rapture? I know it could be hundreds of years off, but don’t think it will be another 2,000. So if He is getting things ready for the one world currency and government, would we be going against His will if we oppose the new administration on several of it’s plans like bailouts, spending, healthcare, defense cutting and on and on?

    Thanks for the post. Enjoy this site. k

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  • Hi Bill,

    Just found you today by way of Wintery Knight. Like what I reads in this post.

    I turned 18 this year and was so excited to vote in this election. As an evangelical who believes the Scriptures (theologically as well as socially) I voted for McCain. Granted, he was not the strongest on certain values issues as the Right would have wanted but I have to say, he was better than Obama on those issues!

    I agree with you in that we SHOULD pray form President Obama: Pray that he gets soundly converted and repents of his promotion of wickedness. And we SHOULD obey the government—unless, as you also mentioned, doing so would violate the four criteria above.

    It just saddens me that a lot of Christians voted for this man because they were blinded by the silky, wanton voice of the serpent, instead of listening to Christ and His Word to see which candidate was acceptable. (And that doesn’t necessarily mean always voting Republican; if there was a Dem who was pro family and believed in STOPPING, not just “lowering” abortion, he would get my vote. The only thing is: there aren’t any, except for maybe two or three in a humongous party.)

    That being said, Bill, do you think Obama’s election was the judgment of God on a rebellious Church? A lot of folks are saying that some of the policies he espouses could lead to persecution (e.g. hate crimes laws, ENDA). Thoughts?

    Great meeting you!

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11,

    David

  • Politic News

    Thanks for this post .

  • Brad

    So you’re pro-life, a member of a SBC, presumably a Christian (I only say “presumably” b/c you didn’t state you were explicitly) – and you still voted for Obama? And the reason you give is “because of his views on abortion”?

    Just curious – do you understand his views on abortion? Do you realize they do NOT uphold a pro-life stance? It seems your issue is with those that say they are pro-life, whom you don’t see doing anything to actually stop abortions. I understand that. And it seems you heard Obama speak about various things he might hope to do to help lessen unwanted pregnancies (I have my own theories on why “unwanted pregnancies” are a problem, and they have nothing to do with the government’s action or lack thereof).

    But the fact remains – when unwanted pregnancies occur (and they will continue to occur) – Obama is still in favor of abortion as a means to end them.

    If you think that the collective “we” isn’t doing enough to stop abortions… do you think voting in a President who believes abortion is perfectly OK is a good starting point? Just curious how you reconcile what you say you believe, with how you vote – because I don’t see it.

  • Brad

    No, the American people die that.

    Depends on your view of God – judging from your blog page, and reading your “about Futile Me” section, I’d say you have a drastically different view than Billy, myself, or others on this blog.

    You make pretty far-reaching, broad-brush, absolute statements for a person who seems to be a relativist. “Christians are pro-life when it suits them” – I’d love to examine your data to support this absolute statement.

  • Brad

    Kay, one passage that I think is fairly clear on the subject is Acts 5:17-42, as follows:

    Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin-the full assembly of the elders of Israel-and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead-whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed them: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

    Seems pretty clear – Peter and the apostles had a mandate to stop preaching from earthly rulers, yet had a mandate to continue doing so from a Heavenly ruler, via one of His angels. Of course, they chose God, choosing to disobey men rather than God. They were punished for it, yes, but not killed, and remained faithful to what God had told them to do.

    As to the 2nd part of your question – did anything that Peter and the apostles did (by choosing to NOT follow earthly rule), thwart in any way God’s will and the furtherance of the end times? No way. Why not? B/c God is in charge of all, and His will WILL be accomplished, despite any efforts to the contrary. In fact, if we’re truly doing His will, then by definition that can’t be going against His will at the same time. So I wouldn’t be too worried about throwing a hitch in the end times scenario, Kay.

  • Bill Pratt

    HI David,
    Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you around in the future.

    As to your question about whether Obama’s election is the judgment of God on the Church, I really cannot say one way or the other. I know that God disciplines his children and I know that God ultimately puts in place our political rulers, but saying that Obama is a specific judgment on the Church is beyond what any of us could know. God shares his general and cosmic purposes in the Bible, and we can gain great insight from the Bible on his purposes for his people today, but I am very uncomfortable claiming I know any of his specific purposes today. We just don’t have that kind of revelation from him (at least I don’t, and I’m very skeptical of those who say they do).

    God bless,
    Bill

  • I voted for McCain, solely because of the abortion issue. But I want to say we do pray for Obama in our home and we pray that his heart will be changed. It is possible. I am reminded of the example of Nebuchanezzar ( sp?) — God changed His heart.It is possible as well for Obama.

    I am tired of the political games played in this nation. I don’t think either of the parties are really going to change the status quo. Bush had his chance and didn’t.

    Personally I am considering the constituion party the next time around. 🙂

    God bless,
    gloria

  • Brad

    I’m considering New Zealand, if things get much worse. I’ve about had it with the American political system.

  • kay

    welcome, David.

  • kay

    Thanks, Brad. Won’t worry about it anymore. This is a great site.

  • Bill Pratt

    Hi Kay,
    Brad answered these questions already, but I wanted to point you toward more passages that speak on civil obedience:

    Ex. 1:15-21; Ex. 5:1-2; 1 Kings 18:4, 13-15; Dan. 3; Dan. 6; Acts 4:18-21

  • I guess politics is the same around the world! Nothing but promises that will never be kept. 🙂

  • Ray

    No Christian can justify voting for Obama.

  • seekfirst

    how is it that only certain sins are emphasized in this discussion as if the Bble only covers abortion and homosexuality. Are the commands to care for the least of these and to be hospitable to aliens to be ignored and excluded from the discussion by Christians?

  • seekfirst

    To the person who said ” no Christian can justify voting for Obama”, I wonder if any consideration is given to the fact that Mormans believe Joseph Smith and the Book of Morman is on equal footing with “the Word”. Wouldn’t that be relevant to the decision about which president to vote for?

  • ” the least of these” is of course the unborn and hospitality should never include aiding and abetting criminal behavior, right?

  • Illegal war? Voted on twice by both Congress and the UN…equating the killing of innnocent unborn with the removal of a genocidal/homicidal maniac and assorted terrorists who themselves murder indiscriminately is absurd…

  • You’re either a prankster or a moron. “Getting the supreme court to overturn roe v wade would be wonderful, but its unlikely to happen anytime soon”…yea, especially when you vote for Obama who will put on more pro-abort judges. There are hundreds of crisis pregnancy centers across the nation all funded by the pro-life community? What world do you live in? We have spent billions over 40 years on “education” that has only produced more abortions.

  • Andrew Ryan

    Bush’s support for ‘abstinence-only education’ led to more teen pregnancies. Countries that educate teenagers about contraception have lower abortion rates and lower teen-pregnancy rates.

    “What world do you live in?”
    Planet Earth, how’s about you?

  • seekfirst

    Check out Matthew 25: 37-41 for further information on the least of these including criminal behaviour.

    _____

  • seekfirst

    To Richard Anderson: Check out Matthew 25:37-41 for further information on “the least of these” including criminals.