Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain's Reverends

Hopefully the McCain/Hagee/Parsley imbroglio will hasten the end of one of the more distasteful aspects of presidential politics -- the very public courting by the candidates of prominent pastors and Christian leaders. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty. No doubt Sen. McCain wasn't well versed on the theology and eschatology of Revs. Hagee and Parsley, and that their views are outside the mainstream of Christian thought when judged by more than the thin slice that is American fundamentalism and dispensationalism of the last 100 years. McCain and his strategists probably thought, "aha, here are two pastors of large 'churches' with large followings that make up an important slice of the electorate that we need to get elected in November. They support Israel and a hard line against the Muslim world. So do we. Let's get them on stage together at a campaign rally and once we're elected we won't have to have anything else to do with them."

Since we shouldn't expect (or want) presidential candidates to be expert enough in these matters to vet the views of such as Hagee or Parsley for their potential political embarrassment, here are two suggestions for avoiding the need for damage control once your "spiritual adviser" has been gone over with a fine tooth comb by the media.

1. Stop the practice of seeking endorsements from pastors and Christian personalities. Period. Robertson, Dobson, Wallis, Jackson, Sharpton...all of 'em.

2. Of course, there's nothing to stop a pastor from coming out with a public endorsement of a candidate. In that case, the candidate should handle it the same way you do when you're sitting at a traffic light and the guy next to you rolls down his window and says, "I like your car." You say "thanks" and when the light turns green go on your way. You don't invite him over for dinner or let him take your car for a spin.

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