Exercising Freedom without Losing your Religion


Tyler Toon - Pastor, New Life Baptist Church



I’m proposing some new legislation in regard to presidential elections. Under this new law, which would obviously take effect immediately, Facebook and Twitter would be completely shut down in the year leading up to a presidential election.

I call this legislation the “Why don’t we just try to actually be decent people?” Act. Unfortunately, I don’t think that idea stands a chance in our current political climate.

When I scroll through Facebook, I don’t even recognize the process once known as “democracy.” Our nation has disintegrated into a cesspool of hate and ideological extremism. Freedom of speech has now become freedom to belittle, freedom to judge, freedom to falsely accuse, and freedom to demonize anyone who disagrees with me.

If America is a “melting pot,” then the pot is boiling over. The heat was turned up too high, and America is boiling over.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize neither of the candidates in this year’s election are exactly beacons of morality. One of them has a political career so murky and grey it looks like something out of House of Cards. The other has been on the cover of Playboy, brags of his marital affairs, has launched multiple business initiatives of questionable legitimacy, and shows all the character and restraint of your common schoolyard bully.

We want to sit back and ask questions like, “How did we get here?”

“Are these really the two best options we can find?”

From where I sit, you couldn’t find two political candidates that better embody the current political climate in America. They’re both PERFECT fits for what our country has become.

In just the last 24 hours, I’ve seen the following actions, statements, memes, shares, etc. on Facebook:

* Someone suggested destroying all the Hillary campaign signs in our county, because “our county doesn’t need any of those people here anyway.”

* Church leaders and even pastors calling a candidate things they would punish their children for calling another child.

* At least one person in my timeline believes the following people are possibly the Antichrist: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Matt Bevin.

* All the “Black Lives Matter” activists should be shot, arrested, or forced to relocate.

* Everybody voting for a particular candidate should be forced to move out of the country. If my candidate doesn’t win, I’m moving out of the country.

* America is DOOMED if _________ wins.

* If you don’t stand for the national anthem, you hate the troops. If you think black lives matter, you hate cops. If you think all lives matter, you hate black people. If you vote for Clinton, you hate Jesus. (And babies.) If you vote for Trump, you hate Mexicans. (And Muslims.) (And black people.)

* You can’t be a Christian and vote for Hillary.

* You can’t be a decent human being and vote for Trump.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What happened to civil discourse? When did “Oh, you’re voting for a different candidate? Well that’s your choice,” become “Oh, you’re voting for a different candidate? I’m going to tear your campaign signs down and launch an online smear campaign against your character???” What happened to being a country where it’s okay to disagree, because we have the individual liberty to do so? What happened to treating somebody with respect not because I agree with them or because I like them, but simply because they’re A HUMAN?

We have freedom of speech, but not freedom of hate speech. I feel like America as a whole needs to be reminded that it’s very possible to disagree, even on something major, and still treat each other like human beings. That even goes for the candidates themselves. I don’t like Hillary or Donald personally, but neither of them deserve the kind of personal attacks they’ve endured during this election. I don’t care what they’ve done. I don’t care how terrible they are. Nobody deserves to be treated less than human, and that’s been this election’s specialty.

And Christians, we need to talk.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

Some of the most hateful things being said, whether about presidential candidates, a supporter of a certain presidential candidate, or activists supporting a particular cause, are coming from the mouths (or statuses) of “Christians!” (In quotations because I feel confident we’re using that term very loosely right now judging from the very un-Christian conduct of some of those claiming Christ.) I truly believe we won’t truly understand the damage done by these hate-filled pseudo-Christians for years, but make no mistake, by telling someone they are less than human, undeserving of rights, or undeserving of Christ because of who they’re choosing to vote for, you have done incredible damage to the kingdom of God.

This is an important election for our country, no doubt, and I understand how democracy works. If you want your candidate in office, it takes some passion and energy to get them elected. By all means, fight for what, or who, you believe in. But Christians, we need to ask ourself at what cost will this “victory” be won? If your candidate wins the election, but it’s because droves of Christians put the gospel on the back burner, have you really won anything?

Please, please, please be careful. My greatest fear in this election is the church becomes so entangled in this web of political hate and extremism that we end up losing the only thing that matters. You are a Christian first, and an American second. There is no election, no candidate, and no movement worth sacrificing the gospel. We must learn to conduct ourself with Christlike love, compassion, and integrity, even in the incredibly depraved world of politics.

Donald Trump cannot save lives. Hillary Clinton cannot save lives. Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, BLM, Colin Kaepernick, the American flag, and the national anthem cannot save lives. Only the gospel of Jesus Christ saves lives.

If we “win” an election (whatever that means) but lose the gospel, we’ve truly lost it all.

Tyler Toon

Pastor, New Life Baptist Church

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