Watching the final two hours of the Values Voters debate was a pretty excruciating experience. When I joined the debate in progress, I had to sit through about forty-five minutes of yes or no questions which were as leading as questions posed by Fox News questioners during the September 5, 2007, New Hampshire debate. So leading were some of the questions that positing a “no” couldn’t have been understood without an explanation, but that was the format. So, as has been reported, when Ron Paul affirmed a no vote to some of these questions, there were gasps from some delegates. Perhaps they were just shocked that a politician would refuse to pander to them in spite of the hyperbole and hysteria pregnant in the questions.
Some questioners were in fact as hostile towards the no-shows as Fox News questioners were to Ron Paul. In some respects, this was satisfying since the no-shows are rarely asked hard questions in the main stream media’s “debates.” However, it displayed a level of cowardice and dare I say, dishonor. Attacking others when they are unable to defend themselves seems par for the course lately. It is a bit troubling that this tactic is an accepted practice with a group that claims it represents Christianity’s political conscience.
At least they’re consistent on this one. America can attack countries unable to defend against her bombs, and should be encouraged to do so, according to values voters and their warmongering favorites. George Bush and any number of his neoconservative sycophants can exclaim “you are either with us or against us," which is exactly opposite of what Jesus said, and values voters eat it up.
Viewers got to see the new addition to the warmongering lineup, Alan Keyes. Alan Keyes doesn’t speak. He screams. He preaches. He is irrelevant. Even values voters find him shrill though his ability to string together sentences is quite impressive as meaningless as the content may be. Oh, sometimes it means something. Alan Keyes’ message for as long as I’ve seen him speak has been “the federal government should enact the entire book of Leviticus.” I guess it never occurred to him that this would bring back slavery. Ironic. His closing statement was embarrassing even to the values voters in attendance. Keyes’ message was essentially: “Ron Paul is wrong. Ron Paul says we are endowed rights from our Creator, but the rights enumerated in the Constitution are only valid if those exercising them do so the right way. So, please go to my website and donate money.”
Keyes will not be making any impact on the Republican primary race other than to siphon off less than 1% of the Christian Jihadists from Huckabee, Hunter or Tancredo. He is all bark and no bite, rhetorically speaking. His bark is like that of a Corgi that thinks he can take on the German Shepherd.
A good deal of the questions were posed by socialist pastors and clergy whose organizations would follow Bush to hell if he commanded them to do so. The obvious bastardization of Romans 13 was on full display. In fact, a visit to the Values Voters website, the political arm of the American Family Association which has essentially replaced the Christian Coalition, directs pastors(pdf) to obey Title 26, 501(c)3 instructions on what they can or can’t say to their congregations. The words “Congress shall make no law….” are to be ignored. That the government is even defining what is and isn’t a church is absurd but this does not even cross the minds of Church “leaders” who affiliate themselves with the AFA.
The first amendment goes much further than merely prohibiting the government from establishing a State religion, it even forbids the government from defining what is and isn’t a church. "Establishment" is not a verb. It is a noun. Thus, “Congress shall make no law … respecting an establishment of religion” means that congress can’t regulate religion in any way, shape or form, including what constitutes a religious establishment. But don’t tell that to values voters and their “leaders.” Refusing to register under 501(c)3, would mean they couldn’t “render unto Caesar” that which is God’s. That seems to be the sole purpose of this coalition of “Christians” apart from the small number who could understand the counter arguments Dr. Paul presented.
The debate was both disappointing and exhilarating. To see so many stand up and presume to speak for God himself, that was disappointing though in my experience a regular occurrence. I am convinced that most religious leaders today would be very happy if their parishioners disobeyed the New Testament’s admonition to question everything. That the bible ever was translated to English is a curse on such leaders in spite of their claims to the contrary. What was clear is that these values voters and their organization want large, powerful and mean federal bureaucracies to punish evildoers both domestically and abroad. Evildoers in this case are not those who reject Christ, but those who reject federal power over every aspect their lives.
Values voters were mostly perplexed by Ron Paul. He admonished them to be wary of the government. Their own leaders are telling them to trust the government; to spy on them, to torture them, to regulate their houses of worship because this is God’s will. When Jesus was tempted on the mount and Satan offered him all of the Kingdoms of the world, did Jesus tell Satan that he was fraudulently offering him political power that Satan didn’t possess? After all, aren’t all governments ordained by God? No. Jesus didn’t even argue that these Kingdoms were not under Satan’s command. He replied that he was bound to obey one God only and let the implication that Satan controlled the governments of the world stand. Values voters apparently also worship one God: the State.
When Jesus said “I came for the Jews," I personally believe he meant that. When the Jews begged God for a King, a government, God told them that they had better be careful for what they prayed. The King would tax them and impose upon them laws and restrictions on the freedoms they enjoyed. They were, prior to their formal government, a loose tribal society, anarchists essentially who governed themselves. Jesus’ message was that a real Kingdom existed outside the realm of government and that they could chose to be under its submission rather than that of the flawed rule of man. That was the salvation he offered. In the two thousand years since, this message has been utterly ignored and the opposite is now being preached in the pulpits of the world as if it were Christ’s message. The doctrine, that the Kingdom of God has not yet come to pass and that it will eventually be installed by military force in what is now Israel, is completely counter to everything Jesus taught. If there is anything that one could consider anti-Christian, that is it.
Ron Paul is not Jesus but his message is closer to what Jesus said than anyone who shared the stage with him that evening. Government should be as small as possible in order that it be the least intrusive on our lives. People are capable of following moral laws without government interference. In fact, they are more likely to be moral without government’s corruptive influence. But this is something that values voters do not appear capable of understanding.
Rick Fisk [send him mail] is a 44-year-old software developer and entrepreneur. He is married, has 3 children and resides in Austin, TX.