A God Divided

There are millions of people around this world praying to their god—whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah—that his [John McCain’s] opponent [Barack Obama] wins, for a variety of reasons. And Lord, I pray that you will guard your own reputation, because they’re going to think that their God is bigger than you, if that happens.

– Rev. Arnold Conrad

This was part of an invocation, made at a McCain rally about a week and a half ago. My basic problems with this are almost too numerous to get into here — starting with basic grammatical and factual errors, and a blatant disregard for the fact that easily as many Christians are praying for Obama’s victory as McCain’s (dare I say, possibly more?). But for the purposes of this blog post, I’ll just stick with my basic religious objections.

As someone who has done more than my share of trying to bargain with God, I understand the frustrations and sense of desperation behind it; I also recognize it an indication of the need to take a step back and re-evaluate my priorities. I’ve gradually come to the realization that any such demands, bartering, or bickering with God should close with a (perhaps begrudging, maybe reluctant, but there nevertheless) “…but Thy will, not mine, be done”. If nothing else, it serves as a reminder; God’s priorities are not ours.

As people of faith, I think we all want to invoke God’s blessings on our particular socio-political beliefs. Ideally, we want to do this because these beliefs have been carefully arrived at through a process of prayer and attention to God’s Word. Less ideally, it’s because we’re stuck in our own way of thinking and don’t want to change. It’s a dangerous spiritual trap, and an easy one to fall in to, to want God’s will to accommodate ours.

We have two men now vying for the position of President of the United States. Both are good Christians, but each brings from his respective faith a different and distinct set of values and priorities. And we, as good Christian voters, are appointed the task of deciding which set is most in line with our own. What it comes down to is two opposing (and, ultimately, limited) views of an infinite and eternal God. Sure, we’d all like for our own view of God to be validated in worldly victories, but we have to understand that God is constant, and will continue to be the God we know and love, no matter who wins this election.

Although I, too, have found myself in private prayer asking God, “you don’t really want them representing You for the next four years do you?” Still, I recognize the influence of God’s Truths coming from both sides. I can (grudgingly) admit that, from time to time, even politicians I don’t like can do good things. Just as people I do like can do things I don’t agree with. And whatever the outcome of this election, I will certainly understand it as the will of the American people, not of one god over another.

This past Sunday, Christ reminded us to keep our priorities straight: give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s. Two weeks from now, we owe it to our country to choose the best, most capable leaders we can. In the meantime, I think we owe it to God to not try and drag Him down into the partisan muck.

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3 thoughts on “A God Divided

  1. OK, I’ll bite and hit some of those other problems…

    1. “Hindu” is an adjective referring to or the generic name for a follower of a collection of interrelated faiths known as Hinduism, similar to the umbrella term “Judeo-Christian”. It is not the name of a deity such as Shiva. Many Hindus actually see Jesus as an avatar of the Divine rather than as a religious competitor.

    2. “Buddha” is a title like Christ, the (historical) Buddha was not (and insisted he was not) a god, and many faithful Christians have benefited from the Buddha’s insights.

    3. The speaker isn’t doing any favors for the reputation of Christians’ representation(s) of God.

    4. Really? My God is bigger than your God. Really? That’s the message you want put out there, fella?

  2. Yep, you’ve hit most of the major ones! Just one more that I would add: “Allah” is the name Muslims give to the God of Abraham — the same God we Christians pray to. So the good Reverend, trying to name some of those “other gods”, struck out.

    And then there’s the more subtle undertone; by allying these “other” religions to Obama, he could be playing on people’s underlying racist fears and keeping alive that notion that he’s “not one of us” and all that. More subjective and harder to quantify, but a disturbing trend throughout the campaign nevertheless.

  3. Stephen Colbert played this well the other night, suggesting a four-way cage match between God, Hindu, Buddha, and Allah.

    As for Allah being the God of Abraham, I’ve met some Christians who argue over whether Yaweh or Jehova was the God of Abraham, so no way would they accept Allah as being the same.

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