If Jesus voted in Wyoming this year, whom would he support?
Let’s dispel the myth that Jesus and politics don’t mix. Remember when Jesus was asked whether it was lawful to pay taxes. The story is often misinterpreted as telling us to stay clear of politics.
The Pharisees asked, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor?” Jesus responded, “Show me the coin used to pay taxes.” Looking at the coin he asked, “Whose image is on this?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” That makes it easy. “Render unto the emperor that which belongs to the emperor and unto God the things that are God’s.”
If you think Christians should stay out of politics, you missed his point. Everything belongs to God. Once you’ve rendered unto God that which belongs to God, there’s nothing left for Caesar.
Jesus followers must engage in politics in a way that respects his teachings. It’s in the political arena where decisions are made about whether the hungry are fed, the thirsty have clean water, strangers are welcomed, the naked clothed, the sick given care, and a roof is put over the heads of the homeless.
The “Judgment Parable” of Matthew 25 is fulfilled, or not, by those we elect. People of faith are called to help. But the real money necessary to care for “the least of these” comes from those who distribute the tax dollars collected from us.
Jesus would start by voting in the GOP primary. He’d want to make sure incumbent legislators waging war on the poor didn’t get reelected. Pointing out that all were Republicans isn’t a partisan statement. It’s simply the truth.
Jesus wouldn’t vote for anyone opposed to Medicaid expansion. If Christians could perform healing miracles like Jesus did we wouldn’t need to worry about this.
But the miracle they can perform is the defeat of those who impose roadblocks to healthcare for 20,000 low-income working people. Jesus didn’t have to contend with “Caesar-care” the way our politicians are confronted with the politics of Obamacare, but I’m certain Jesus wouldn’t allow partisan politics to distract him from caring for the sick. Neither should Christians use their precious votes to support those who did.
Second, Jesus would oppose candidates who support ill-named “religious freedom” laws. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Jesus hung out that “we-refuse the-right-to-refuse-service-to-anyone” signs only once.
When the gentile woman from Syrophoenicia sought help, he responded, "Let the children be fed first. It’s not good to take bread out of children's mouths and throw it to the dogs!” Jesus never again withheld himself from those who were different after being humbled by her retort, "Sir, even the dogs under the table get to eat scraps dropped by children!"
Third, you can’t read the Gospel without concluding that Jesus expects us to care for the widows and orphans, the disabled, and the poor. Following Jesus’s teachings means voting to oust legislators who supported deep cuts or elimination of funds critical to our low-income, elderly and disabled neighbors.
Nearly all of those Republican incumbents knocking on your door voted to repeal sales tax refunds to the lowest income families. Low-income families have received this refund annually since 1976. Not in the darkest days of earlier budget crises did anyone attack this meager benefit. Most of these folks live off little more than a Social Security check.
Republican legislators, acting without a single Democratic vote, slashed programs assisting low-income taxpayers. They targeted the Low Income Energy Assistance Program that helps low-income families pay high utility bills and the costs of weatherizing their homes.
These legislators heartlessly terminated Medicaid funding for dental care for the low-income elderly and eliminated family literacy centers.
Each of us must be like the Good Samaritan. But it’s not enough to simply care for the wounded left along the road by careless lawmakers. After binding up their wounds, we need to head for the polling booth and vote for those candidates who will help alleviate the causes of the wounds.