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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    On the hypocrisy of a Christian president

    Jared Pflumcolumnist
    Jared Pflum
    columnist

    “”If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.””

    – Jesus of Nazareth, John 14:23

    For all of their differences, each of the leading contenders of the 2008 presidential race claims to be a Christian. In a predominately Christian country this fact is unlikely to surprise anyone. Yet, it should.

    Many of the duties of the presidential office seem to conflict with the clearest aims and values of the Christian faith – none more so than the president’s position as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military.

    In fact, the duties of this position seem so contradictory to Christianity that we must question if someone who claims to be a Christian can, in good faith and conscience, be president.

    Obviously, such a question can only be answered within the context of the Christian tradition. Therefore, we must begin with the Gospels, which are the foundation of the faith and are revered by all Christians, regardless of denomination.

    These scriptures assert that Jesus commanded his followers to love others, including their enemies, as themselves. He taught that no one should repay evil for evil and that one should “”turn the other cheek”” when faced with violence.

    The Gospels also reveal that Jesus followed his word. He did not resist the violence committed against him and then, following his resurrection, did not seek vengeance. Instead, he encouraged his followers to love one another and to heal the sick.

    However, those like the president, who are involved in the military actively prepare for and commit violence, retaliate in the face of opposition and consistently do to others what they wouldn’t want done to themselves.

    Thus, it would seem someone could not be president without renouncing the Christian faith.

    However, some will argue that Christian theologians such as St. Augustine have concluded that Christians can participate in the military, and therefore, a Christian can certainly be president. But this argument is weak in the face of both logic and Christianity.

    First, the argument absurdly presupposes that decisions made in the past were accurate and final. Second, the argument places more weight on the teachings of theologians than the supposed words of Jesus. This emphasis is problematic from a Christian standpoint because it insinuates that the conclusions of flawed human beings are more important than the commands of the incarnation of God.

    Many of the duties of the presidential office seem to conflict with the clearest aims and values of the Christian faith – none more so than the president’s position as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. military.

    Regardless, others will assert that Jesus’ teachings are indeed more important than those of humans, but that his words must not be taken literally. Yet this argument is so blasphemous from a Christian perspective that one wonders why any Christian would employ it.

    After all, why would God come to earth only to say things he didn’t actually mean and to command things he didn’t wish to be followed?

    Still, others will argue that Christianity is a religion of faith, not works. Therefore, one can be president as long as one believes in Jesus. This is perhaps the most absurd argument of all. For how can one believe Jesus to be divine but refuse to follow his commands? Even the scriptures refute this inane notion.

    Ultimately, it’s interesting to note that the early Christians would likely have never debated if they could occupy a position that necessitated violence. In fact, historians of Christianity agree that most of the early Christians refused to serve in the military and many refrained from participating in any government occupation.

    Yet, nearly two millennia after his death, most Christians practice a Christianity that Jesus and his followers probably wouldn’t recognize. The reasons for this corruption are undoubtedly many, but the 2008 presidential hopefuls are proof of its existence.

    Christianity has now largely become a convenient Christianity. It requires one to believe, but not to act. And it’s no wonder that this is the Christianity being espoused by politicians; it helps them appeal to the masses, but demands nothing of them morally.

    Thus, to answer the question at hand: Of course a Christian can be president, but if, and only if, the individual wishes to defy scripture, disobey the commands of Jesus and ignore all logic.

    Therefore, let it be understood that a Christian can only take the office of the presidency for the price of his (or her) soul.

    Jared Pflum is a religious studies senior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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