Election time again and, once more, we face a big decision. No, not the decision about our vote. That one is big, but this one is even bigger. It's the decision about our integrity.
I watch in amazement as every four years, well-meaning Christians who are otherwise committed to values of truth and controlling our tongues descend into the pit of partisanship, smears, and tale-bearing. You know how it goes. You have genuine concerns about the other guy (or gal) and so, with few qualms, repeat whatever was told to you by someone in the parking lot or that you heard on the talk radio show or read on that extremely well fact-checked source, the Internet. Of course, all the stuff the other side is saying about your candidate? Yellow journalism and lies.
People who balked at the Left's mention of George Bush's alcoholism repeat at the drop of a hat Obama's admission of drug use in his younger days. And people who on any other day are likely to decry the sexism of American politics suddenly become concerned that Palin went back to work too quickly after giving birth and that she can't be both VP and a mother of a special-needs child.
We believe whatever our side says, refuse to even listen to the other side, and generally put critical thinking aside.
I'm sad to say that over the last few months, I've seen good Christians who genuinely love Jesus repeat tale after tale (many later proven false or exaggerated) about both major tickets in this election–all with the intention of making others think less of the one being talked about.
Didn't we use to call that gossip? And, actually, wouldn't we still call it gossip if someone in our church was saying similar things about someone else in our church? Can anyone tell me how it's any different during an election? I understand these are important decisions about public officials, and character matters. I know. I just think that's all the more reason to be careful, to check the facts before repeating the tale. Character matters in both the ones being voted for and the ones doing the voting.
Read something about Obama on a Republican site? Great. Before you believe it, check out how the Democrats are explaining it. And vice-versa. Or better yet, bookmark an objective site that holds the feet of both candidates to the fire on issue of truth and spin.
Does John McCain really want to apply "Wall Street de-regulation" to health care? No.
Did Obama really vote against funding our troops? No. According to FactCheck.org:
McCain has made multiple false representations of Obama's tax proposals. Obama has made false claims about McCain's stance on Social Security. Both McCain and Obama have traded some whoppers about their energy policies, about Iraq, and about Iran, and about supporting troops.
Politicians lie. It's what they do. Don't make the mistake of thinking your guy is different. And don't make the mistake of thinking that any issue you are passionate about, whether abortion or the poor, is worth your joining them in their half-truths, deceptions, and spin. Shouldn't people who follow the One who called Himself the Truth (John 14:6), who told us that it was in truth that our freedom would be found (John 8:32), be a bit more careful about the "facts" we repeat? Shouldn't we refuse to serve the interests of political parties by refusing to parrot talking point after talking point and, instead, using a bit of discernment?
Here's what I want to see: Christians who can speak as eloquently about the good qualities of the candidate that they aren't supporting as they can about the one they are, and who can speak as candidly about their candidates shortcomings as they do about the other guy's. Christians who make decisions about whom to vote for based on issues, not rumors. Christians who take a stand and refuse to participate in political gossip and character assassination.
After all, what would it profit us to win the whole election and still lose our integrity?