As a local church pastor and leader, I stand amazed, but also burdened, over the ongoing attacks that are aimed at what I call “religious straw men.” The term “fighting a straw man” is used when one states a belief in an exaggerated way and then destroys it. Usually someone is attacking the belief and practice of another person, but doing so by creating a different reality of what actually occurred.
These imaginable characters receiving the artillery fire are often referred to as “the religious right” and “moral majority.” The scorn for some of these patriots of the past, who were truly a part of a dynamic movement in America, demonstrates an immaturity and discredits those who make their pseudo-political attacks. Some of these same leaders that influenced America positively also led the largest Protestant denomination in the United States to stop drifting left theologically by returning to a deep belief in the infallibility and inerrancy of Scripture. How soon we forget.
In this political season, accusations are often bizarre and at times outrageous. What is beyond sad is these attacks are being made by professing Christ-followers upon their brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, believers are also attacking those who do not believe in Christ. Perhaps Christians forget that people who are not Christ-followers often have a different belief system that leads them to act like they do not know Jesus Christ personally. Regrettably, the attacks are mostly over the political challenges of our day.
It is not my goal to pick a fight or point a finger at anyone. I love everyone. My goal is to share truth, nothing else. It grieves me when I sense that generations are being influenced negatively. I ask you to consider these misconceptions.
Misconception No. 1: The religious right and moral majority are alive and thriving.
I have heard the "religious right" and "moral majority" mentioned recently. I suppose these terms are referring to the men who formed the religious right and moral majority in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Along with some even younger than me, I have been categorized as being part of the religious right and moral majority. This is ridiculous. These movements do not even exist today as they did in the 1970s and early 1980s. In the highest moment of these movements, I was a seminary student trying to figure out Greek, Hebrew and archaeology. I was not engaged in American politics.
For the record: I applaud and am thankful for those who were an active part of the religious right and moral majority, who loved God supremely and America secondarily. I honor those who have passed and those who are still with us today.
Hands down, I prefer their effectiveness and influence over the voices of those who attack their vigilance and love for the Lord supremely and America secondarily. I personally knew some of these men, and I can assure you, they never held America above the Kingdom of God. Anyone who believes they did is misinformed.
Misconception No. 2: The Gospel is being jeopardized and its testimony hurt.
The political persuasions and actions of today are not jeopardizing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel is the power of God to those who believe. It always has been powerful and still is today. Nothing can jeopardize the Gospel. The Gospel is God’s Gospel, and it is the eternal good news to all persons in the world.
The testimony of the Gospel is serious business. One’s involvement in the political world today does not bring harm to the Gospel. We are called by Jesus to be the salt and the light in this darkness. We should do so both wisely and courageously. God will use this kind of testimony.
This I do know: We live in a sinful world. The Gospel is the only answer, not politics. Yet, we must still engage and operate in this sinful political climate and in this evil world. Our hope should never be in a politician or a party, but only in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Misconception No. 3: You must compromise if you vote in this presidential election.
According to research, most Americans don’t like their choices. Yet, they are our choices. Therefore, one of only two candidates will be elected as our nation’s next leader. God is Sovereign. Trust Him. Pray. Vote. By the way, voting for a third-party candidate or writing in a name will only contribute to the one person whom you may not want for president.
Furthermore, there are numerous local elections occurring Nov. 8. Do not minimize the importance of the day. Don’t criticize those who choose to participate in the political process and who still believe that “We The People” determine our future as a nation.
In brevity, this entire election cannot be changed and is inescapable. It will set the course for the future and freedom of America. We the people need to show up en masse, acting upon biblical convictions to cast our vote for every election occurring Nov. 8.
In this noisy world, ignore the voices of those who may continue their pseudo-political attacks. Punching their straw men may gain you a retweet or two, possibly more from the left or from your personal fan base. But it reveals an immaturity in the understanding of the real issues before us in America.
Resolve now that you are responsible to God personally. Refuse to accuse others and judge them. Pray for others. Dialogue with people, do not create division. Practice humility, not moral arrogance.
Be grateful for the contributions others make. Perhaps they are not doing what you would do, but that is OK.
What really matters long-term is our fellowship together in Christ and our common desire for a future America that affords us the privilege to make a difference.
Ronnie Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry. This article first appeared on his blog at ronniefloyd.com.