“Jesus is all”

In the recent Ames straw poll, former Baptist minister Mike Huckabee came in a strong second, behind the expected winner, Mitt Romney.

Some editorial analysis on this even appears in the New York Sun, the paper of record for New York in a post-Jayson Blair environment. Among other things, the Sun concludes that this straw poll is irrelevant for the 2008 election. And that this is a good thing:

The face of the Republican Party in Iowa is the face of a losing party, full of hatred toward immigrants, lust for government subsidies, and the demand that any Republican seeking the office of the presidency acknowledge that he’s little more than Jesus Christ’s running mate. The pandering from the stage told the story. Mr. Romney promised not a chicken in every pot, but “a button on every computer” for parents to block obscene material. Anti-immigrant ranter Tom Tancredo nearly brought the house down decrying the fact that Americans sometimes have to “Press 1” for English. Mr. Huckabee earned his second-place finish in part by making the specious claim that farm subsidies safeguard America’s food independence. (You think it’s bad depending on foreign oil, Mr. Huckabee asked? “Wait until our country messes up and has to depend on foreign food.”) Senator Brownback of Kansas, the third-place finisher, declared as he often does in his stump speech: “All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus.”

Getting past the general span of what we used to call nannies, or do-gooders, I’d like to focus on Sam Brownback’s “all for Jesus.” While I think that Sam Brownback is a man of honor, that “all for Jesus” is off-putting. Render unto Caesar, and all of that (Luke 20:25).

All Christians should be of two minds about a candidate for secular office who claims Jesus as his own, or that he is doing “all” for Jesus.

Well, in one sense, should we not be doing everything as if Jesus were looking over our shoulder? This is nothing more than good old Catholic guilt, and it works for me. On the other hand, a politician who believes he is doing the will of God in the person of Jesus can be dangerous.

If you believe that what you are doing is God’s will, how could you ever compromise? Stated differently, one should never compromise one’s faith; that would be a betrayal of Jesus Christ. And yet, to be effective, all politicians must compromise at some point. Then there’s the problem of not giving the appearance of excluding those who don’t share our faith.

Government is not church. All Americans must feel welcome, regardless of their faith,  or lack thereof.  Claiming “Jesus is all” is certainly true for a devout Christian, but it might be hard to convince a Jew or Buddhist of that proposition.

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