My disappointment does not come from McLaren’s support of Obama. I didn’t need to see this ad to know he supported Obama. My disappointment comes from me being sick of Christian leaders backing specific candidates and/or parties. My disappointment comes from me being tired of Christian leaders using their influence and position to coerce their “followers” into electing a particular individual. My disappointment comes from me believing that Brian and his circle of friends wouldn’t do this because they didn’t like it when the religious right did it — I assumed that meant that they wouldn’t do it. Apparently, even his friend, Tony Jones, didn’t think Brian would endorse a particular candidate.
I may be wrong but it feels like Brian has abandoned a principle that he believed in so that the person he is going to vote for will win. Even his letter of explanation sounded like he was trying to excuse something he didn’t feel completely comfortable about. And he says he isn’t speaking as a pastor (he is not presently a pastor) but he refers to himself as a pastor in the ad.
Do I think he has done something “wrong”, “immoral”, “illegal”? No, I don’t. But I believe that his public endorsement in a political ad that takes a shot at the fact that McCain is divorced will do more harm than good and will be more divisive than unifying.
I believe McLaren would have better served his faith and beliefs by talking about the issues that are dear to his heart and encouraging others to have conversations and to think about the issues that are dear to their hearts.
Whether it is Dobson or McLaren, the Christian Coalition or the Matthew25Network, the right or the left, the conservatives or the liberals I don’t like it.
I like what Shane Claiborne said about endorsements:
In post-Religious Right America, we want to learn from the mistakes of the generation before us (so we don’t repeat them) – one of which was telling Christians who to vote for. Rather than spoon-feeding people answers, we hope to stir up the right questions – and trust that the Spirit will lead us as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” One of the places the religious right went wrong was telling people what to do rather than inviting them to think for themselves, with the help of the Spirit of God (in fact, it even seems a real lack of faith to to coerce or convince people to do exactly what we want them to… as if the Spirit is not at work in them). That’s where Jesus shines – he stirs up questions and tells stories that unveil truth, rather than drafting a careful declaration or endorsement that’s going to solve everything wrong in the world.
Claiborne’s view is reminiscent of Martin Luther King’s perspective. King’s idea was, don’t endorse anyone. He believed that endorsing a candidate just makes it easy for them to count you as a part of their base and then move on and ignore you. Instead, King believed it was better to invite politicians on both sides to endorse your movement and your platform and that they should do that throughout their campaign and their time in office.
I am not angry at Brian McLaren and I am not here to bash him.
I just wanted to say that I am disappointed.