God puts God’s hat in the ring… or rather, has it dragged there.
Four candidates for the Republican nomination for President in the 2012 election claim that God told them to get into the race. Herman Cain says he had extended conversations with God about it. Rick Perry is another candidate God wanted to run. His wife is so sure Rick heard God correctly that she was so bold as to say the other three candidates heard God wrong.
Unfortunately, God’s press agent isn’t commenting at the moment.
But isn’t that the best kind of endorsement to have? You can claim the God of the Universe is behind your candidacy which imbues your campaign with the ultimate in power, authority, truth and righteousness. And, because the Almighty doesn’t speak audibly to the world, at press conferences or through a press agent, nobody can question or doubt the endorsement. There is no way to counter the personal, subjective, religious claims of another person, unless you dismiss it out of hand as impossible. That would be political suicide in America. You don’t have to be a good Christian, or even a practicing Christian, to be President in America, but you can’t be non-Christian.
The claim is not without risks, however. You have to bank on the possibility that there will be more people that think you are right than think you are crazy. Among republican voters, I’m sure there are some that think they are crazy. But there are enough of the faithful to make it worth the risk. Republican strategists know they need religious folks to turn out the vote to beat Obama so they will accept a few hundred thousand crazies if it means winning back the White House. If you believe David Cuo, who worked for three years in the Office of Faith Based Initiatives under George W. Bush and wrote the book Tempting Faith, this is exactly what goes on behind the scenes.
Who will be vindicated? This is where it gets interesting, and where the power of the claim pays off. If one of the 4 who claim God’s prompting actually wins it lends veracity to their claim. After all, God is always on the side of winners, not losers (at least in America and not if you read the Bible, but we’re in America). That will carry huge weight in the general election among the faithful. Again, when it comes down to Republicans vs. Democrats the edge might just go to the man or woman that can turn out the fundamentalist Christian vote. God is pretty good at that (whether God wants to be or not). Like I said, God is the greatest endorser. You can claim God’s endorsement and God won’t say a word.
Is it possible that God really did tell one, or all, of these folks to run? As a follower of Jesus and a pastor by vocation, I would say it is possible. However, I’m reluctant to take anyone’s word on that. What I require is a little fruit in keeping with God’s agenda. I want to see a Jesus-shaped platform. Short of that, I think it’s a political maneuver.
Here’s an example of how I think. Herman Cain said he had multiple conversations with God about running for President. Then he makes a ‘joke’ about undocumented immigrants getting electrocuted on a border fence. Let’s take him at his word, that he was ‘joking’. If he considers it a joke to say that people who are trying to find a better life for themselves and their families should die on an electric fence I can’t believe he’s actually talking to God (at least not Jesus’ Father). He may be talking to someone or something, but I’m not sure it’s God. After all the Bible says that a person cannot love God who he doesn’t see if he doesn’t love his neighbor who he does see. I think undocumented immigrants would fall under that neighbor classification. If you don’t love the undocumented immigrant, how can you say you love God. I don’t usually tell ‘jokes’ about people I love accidentally getting electrocuted on a fence designed to keep them away from me. That causes me to question his claim that God told him anything. If God does talk to Herman, I suggest feeding him some better jokes…and perhaps a lesson from Jesus about loving your neighbor as yourself.
All I can say is hold onto your seats, especially if you are a follower of Jesus. If this continues, this Presidential campaign is going to be a circus with God as the ringmaster, Jesus on the trapeze and the Holy Spirit taming lions!