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“When the righteous thrive, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people groan.” (Prov 29:2)

“Biblical Mudslinging?”

The recent resignation of Congressman “Duke” Cunningham in shame and disgrace has added to the publics’ jaundiced view of all politicians.  With the special election to fill the 50th Congressional District seat, followed by the June California Primary, then the November General Election, there are ample opportunities to see candidates at their best and worst.  The special election in June, however, is going to be particularly volatile for a number of reasons: Congressional seats don’t open up very often; there will probably not be a majority winner so a Primary runoff between major political party winners will be necessary; and finally, this is a Republican dominated district so the highest Republican vote getter in the special election will probably win in the Primary. With at least sixteen candidates (14 Republicans so far) running for this office, the pundits are already predicting an unusually strong season of mudslinging in order to capture the hundreds of votes that will make the difference between the first place Republican finisher and the rest of the party field (Busby being the certain winner for the Democratic ticket in the Primary).

Given this environment, the Christian vote will probably be determinative of the outcome.  With several evangelicals in the race that are conservative on moral, fiscal and border issues, it’s even more important that Biblical principles be followed in evaluating each candidate.  Any other approach can amount to gossip, which is roundly condemned in scripture.  The Bible is clear – if we suspect sin, or something untoward about another Christian, we’re to confront that person directly to convict them of their errant ways, or find out whether our evaluation of them is accurate or not.  If we cannot gain resolution or satisfactory understanding, then others are to be brought in to act as witnesses.  For Christians, this next step more than likely is done within the church environment with the help of appropriate church leadership.  If sin is present and un-confessed, church discipline may then be required (Matt 18:15-20).  Unfortunately, history shows us that much of the Christian community will tolerate mudslinging without even questioning supposed “facts” or garnering explanations.  This plays into a desire to think evil of others first, without going the extra mile to personally confront or resolve concerns Biblically.

As a harbinger of things to come, an example of not following the Biblical pattern is seen in a series of e-mails claiming Bill Morrow and his wife Barbara are pro-death and pro-embryonic stem cell research. Bill and Barbara Morrows’ pro-life and anti-embryonic stem cell research convictions are well known and easily verifiable.  To publicly attack any candidate within the Christian community, without first following the Biblical pattern is not just unwise, but extremely destructive.  That these e-mails weren’t roundly condemned or openly questioned by other candidates that know Morrow and his strong pro-life legislative record is also a telling indication of how strongly the Congressional office is being sought. 

As the Bible says, “The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him” (Prov 18:17).    Let’s be clear, Christians are held to a higher standard than the rest of the world, and the Lord has given us the process to follow when sin is suspected.  With such an intense, competitive campaign ahead who knows what may be claimed about any candidate on any subject at any time.  May we in the faith community be diligent in our evaluations of others, may we not be a party to gossip, and may we demand that any public condemnation follow the Biblical, Christ-honoring process first.  This is how we protect the reputation of others as well as our own integrity.

- Frank Kacer

First published as a Guest Commentary in the March 2006 issue of Good News Etc.