In the 2006 Arizona Gubernatorial elections, I registered as a Republican and voted for Len Munsil. In the 2008 Presidential election, I voted for John McCain. Finally in 2012, I registered as an Independent, and for the first time in my adult voting life, I broke ranks with my ideological demographic to vote for Barack Obama.
I think that because of my special upbringing in the church: as a pastor’s kid, as a former charismatic, having attended Christian private school… sometimes I say things that people just can’t relate to, because they haven’t yet experienced certain aspects of church that I have.
Being born into a Christian family in the ministry exposes you to a lot of good and bad that comes with church. I think my upbringing has played a big role in my desire to never be a pastor, though I know many good pastors, nor would I discourage anyone from becoming one. I’ve never doubted Jesus, and the one most important distinction that I’ve learned is to never use the followers of Jesus as a reason to discredit Jesus or the gospel message.
I’m a little apprehensive about writing this post, because telling an unpleasant truth about your past doesn’t just make you look bad, it can make others look bad too. That isn’t my intention, so I’ve purposely pixelated out the names of people I know personally who might be embarrassed by anything I write here. If your name is on here in any way, it’s because I asked your permission, I’m complimenting you, or because you’re a super-star international figure and you’re fair game.
I don’t hide the names that I do to cover up anything on their behalf, but rather to make a point that I’m not trying to attack the person, just the idea.
This isn’t the first post where I admit to having been a little brainwashed, but I only write this to assist others who are in that somewhat lonely place of questioning what they believe, and where I was just a few years ago. It’s not meant to be a treatise on a any political position at all.
There was no burning bush experience (no pun intended). I didn’t feel compelled to eschew one candidate or the other. Rather, I suspected that I’d been letting other people do my voting for me over the years, so it was time to do some homework.
In my many years as a Christian conservative, I noticed that voting — even among believers — really came down to a few big things: skin color, what type of church they went to, whether or not they went to public school, and how much money they made.
Are you one of a few black families in a majority white Charismatic church? Chances are you vote Republican. Are you black in a “black” Baptist church, or a “black” Pentecostal church? Chances are you vote Democrat. Are you black with a baptist background in a Charismatic church? Chances are you vote Democrat, and your white church members give you a pass. Are you a white Methodist or Lutheran? Chances are you vote Democrat, but it depends on how much money you make. Are you a white Southern Baptist or Reformed Protestant? Chances are you vote Republican. Did you go to Christian private school or were you home schooled? Chances are you vote Republican.
How am I doing so far?
Having been bred Republican both in church and in Christian private schools, I knew I had a voting bias and a herd mentality that I needed to remove from my decision making process. I needed to inquire of my own mind what was important to me. So like you can see in the image above, I created a spreadsheet of issues weighted by how important they are, and then divided 10 points between the two opponents to decide how much I agreed with one or the other on these issues. Then I spent a few days going to Romney’s website and Obama’s website to find out how much I agreed with each candidate. I also weighed in Obama’s prior 4 years, as well as news bites and debates I’d watched.
To my surprise, Obama won my support by a small margin, even after I felt I had rigged the spreadsheet in Romney’s favor. Normal people don’t put “Fears God” and “Support of Israel” as issues they care about, and in retrospect, I feel like I gave Romney way too much credit, and Obama too little.
Once I accepted the conclusion of my spreadsheet, I mailed in my early ballot and relaxed during the last stretch of the election.
If you want to take the same test for yourself, to see where you’d fall, you can download my Election 2012 spreadsheet. Make sure to change the weights to match the importance you place on the issues, or remove and add issues as you see fit.
Be honest though! I am very curious to see how my friends do. If you’re afraid to show it publicly, message me your result. I’ll keep my lips sealed.
In the spring of 2000, I was in 7th grade at Paradise Mountain Christian Academy. The Republican primaries were being held and George W. Bush was running against John McCain and Alan Keyes. I was 13 at the time, and I couldn’t care less about politics.
During the primaries, there started to be a lot of talk amongst the kids, echoing the opinions of their parents, that they wanted George W. Bush to win. He was apparently the “Christian” candidate. This was all background noise to me, because after all, I couldn’t vote. I was only 13, and a resident alien. I wouldn’t become a US Citizen for five more years.
One afternoon during social studies, our teacher asked the class who we think should win the Republican primary. She listed out some of the stances of the various candidates on some issues, and to be honest with you I wasn’t paying all that much attention, so some specifics on what my teacher said are lost on me. There is one thing I remember with remarkable clarity.
As we talked amongst ourselves about who we would vote for, us guys, who mostly all sat together, noticed that the girls were all going to vote for George W. Bush. We decided in unison that we were going to be the opposition and vote for John McCain, not because we agreed with him, but because we wanted to spite the girls.
We voted, and the girls looked at all of us in shock. I’ll never forget the next thing that came out of one girl’s mouth.
“How can you vote for John McCain??!! HE KILLS BABIES!!!!!!!”
Us boys held steadfast, and we lost. George W. Bush won our little mock election at PMCA. Now I wasn’t actually in favor of any guy that “kills babies,” but the prospect of causing the girls torment outweighed any moral concerns we had. For the next few days, at any opportune moment, the boys would chant, “John McCain! John McCain! John McCain!” and it was wonderful. We played those girls’ emotions like a fiddle.
Who knew that 8 years later everyone would forget the rhetoric and make John McCain out to be the last great Christian hope?
Eventually, teasing the girls got old. After all, puberty is a bigger concern than any election. Just like in our mock election, George W. Bush defeated McCain, and then went on to defeat Al Gore in the general election to become the 43rd President of the United States of America, though not without some controversy.
I wasn’t in this girl’s home. I don’t know what she heard, or whether it came from her parents or elsewhere. I do know that it echoed the mood at my Christian school. I do know that our teachers painted McCain as being pro-choice, and Bush as pro-life during the primaries.
In retrospect, and after seeing how the news spin cycle can paint anyone as the devil — just because they have a slightly less perfect voting record than an alternative — I can understand how money and media shape the narrative and set the tone for a demographic.
By now I was a senior in high school in a different Christian private school. You could say it was a bit of an upgrade from my last school. Many of the attendees came from wealthy families. There were big names in real estate, hotels, waste management, investors, dot-coms, franchises, and many doctors and lawyers. The parents of my classmates tended to be a little older than I was used to, probably because they waited to have children to pursue careers. The school was made up of mostly white upper middle class, going all the way up to the 0.1%. Yes, there were at least two billionaire families that I can think of.
Every weekday at 2:45pm, our school parking lot transformed into what, to this day, I call “The Car Show”. Many of us would sit nearby and chat, often waiting to see who got the coolest new car, whether it be a Bentley, or a Ferrari 360, or the latest Range Rover HSE.
I remember once being the only one of our group of guys having enough courage to ask a really beautiful young “Scottsdale mom” to see inside the hood of her Brabus S600 while she had parked, waiting for her kids. Many of the mothers at our school drove what would be the Scottsdale equivalent of an armored tank: the GMC Yukon Denali XL, Chevrolet Suburban, and the Cadillac Escalade EXT.
Not our Scottsdale mom though, she was basically coming to pick up her kids in an F-18 Hornet. She obliged, and popped the hood, and we all crowded around and marveled at the German engineering. It was a 600, so it sported the V12 engine. I snapped a shot with my phone’s camera, we all thanked her, and she went on her way.
To add to the wealth exposure at school, I was heavily involved in the Word Faith Prosperity Lite movement at the time, which reinforced those ideas every Sunday. My private Christian school was Republican, and so was my church. At school I was surrounded by money, and at church I was surrounded by the love of money.
Five days a week I was taught how to defend my faith and my politics at school, and on Sundays I was taught why Jesus wants us all to be rich and vote Republican. Meanwhile people I listened to, like Kenneth Copeland, prophesied that Bush would win the election again. We had a Christian President, and we were going to make America Christian again! Bush won, just like he did in 2000, entirely because of my demographic.
This was the cauldron in which my ideological metal was forged. Unfortunately for us, America didn’t become Christian like we’d hoped, and eight years of a Republican “Christian” President didn’t overturn Roe vs. Wade.
Fast forward four more years, and a young energetic candidate stepped on the scene. Barack Hussein Obama. Emphasis on the “Hussein.” Bush was going out, and with no incumbent advantage, it was a fair game. The torch would be passed no matter what.
I didn’t vote in the primaries, but I did vote in the general election and Barack Hussein’s opponent would be none other than John McCain. You remember John McCain, the “baby killer,” right?
He beat out Mitt Romney, “the Mormon,” who was just a little too liberal for our Christian liking at the time. Universal healthcare in Massachusetts? A little too much.
The big question on Christians’ minds was, “Is it a sin to vote for a Mormon?” Mike Huckabee didn’t have a problem reminding us of this during the primaries, and it probably contributed to Romney’s loss.
With the advancement of technology, this election was different. Facebook was a big deal now. I’d not only have exposure to my Christian community’s opinions at church on Sunday, but online, and daily.
The primaries were over, Huckabee was gone, and the entire Christian community fell in line behind John McCain and Sarah Palin. At church, our pastor would sneak in veiled political comments bolstering McCain and Palin’s position at Obama’s expense, sometimes in the form of humor. I didn’t care at the time; the pastor wasn’t saying those things because he was promoting McCain, he was saying it because he was right. Right?
To add to the change in the air, this time I was old enough to vote. This time, I was a US Citizen. I would be voting in my first Presidential election.
Having graduated from Scottsdale Christian Academy in 2005, I’d already done my time and earned my GOP stripes. I was a full fledged Republican, or so I thought. I even broke my “no bumper sticker” rule to support Len Munsil in Arizona’s 2006 gubernatorial election.
However much I’ve changed politics in the past few years, I’d find it hard not to vote for Len Munsil again. He’s a family man with a big heart. He’s a great leader at home, which only makes him a better leader in public. He kept track of our stats on my high school football team, where his son was our Quarterback and a fellow team Captain.
As a black Republican, I was the guy my white friends would point to and say, “Now there’s an upstanding black guy. Not looking for a handout from anybody! Republican’s aren’t all rich white people — see — my black friend is Republican, in fact he’s more Republican than I am!”
Now they never actually say that, at least not in front of you, but you get certain pats on the back, and you know that’s what they mean. At the same time I was the guy that a lot of my fellow black friends tolerated, and with great patience I might add, because they understood that I went to Christian school, and needed time to adjust to real life.
Staunchly pro life, and pro family values, I believed America was a nation founded upon judeo-Christian principles. I believed that a country with laws based on biblical morals would be a better country than one that wasn’t. I’d been listening to “Seven Mountains” dominionism as taught by Lance Wallnau, a highly loved and repeat guest speaker at our church. He helped reinforce the idea that biblical values are what can make or break a nation. It wasn’t until I started reading US and world history on my own, that I changed my tune.
It’s a little after this point in my life where, due to having felt duped about US History, I started to be more willing to hear out people with opposing views. It’s one thing to hear what “liberals think” from the mouth of a conservative, and another thing to hear what “liberals think” from their own mouth.
After listening to Barack Obama, he didn’t seem like a liberal to me at all. He seemed more like a Theodore Roosevelt or a Dwight D. Eisenhower. Apparently, I wasn’t the only person with that idea…
- Obama the moderate Republican: What the 2012 election should teach the GOP
- Noam Chomsky: Obama Would Have Been A ‘Moderate Republican’ Several Decades Ago
I wanted on the bandwagon of change, especially since he could be the first black President in US History, that is…until my church derailed me.
According to a 1954 law, non-profit organizations aren’t allowed to endorse any particular candidate, but pastors and clergy have recently begun to challenge that ruling.
You see, in 2008, about 2 weeks before the election, I was pretty much ready to vote for Obama. Since the Republican primaries, I’d done some homework, and some friends of mine knew I was on the fence. Eventually, I had silently swayed myself in Obama’s favor. Then I went to church on a Sunday evening.
Our pastor had invited a guest preacher from South Africa, and his name was Rodney Howard-Browne. He’s famous in Pentecostal circles for his laughing anointing. He preached, he imparted, and then he began to talk American politics. Then he said something that made me afraid:
How can you call yourself a Christian and vote for a candidate that supports abortion?! I don’t understand it…
As someone who wants to do the right thing, and hates the idea of abortion, I felt that I was making a big mistake, and maybe I’d been seduced and deceived by the media about Obama. Maybe that one issue trumped everything else?
Within the next 24 hours, I changed my mind and decided I’d vote for John McCain. My policy then was the same as it is now. Christian first, American second. Remember that this evening church service was just about 2 weeks before election day.
It’s only necessary to watch this clip till about the 6 minute mark, if you can last that long.
– – – – – – – – – – – FYI, 05/22/15 – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Did you try to play the above video and it was gone? Well, in the 10 months since I wrote this article, it seems the Rodney Howard Browne team has gone into crisis management mode. Every video on Youtube that depicted Rodney Browne and Kenneth Copeland “dueling in tongues”1 has been removed due to copyright notices from Rodney Howard Browne Ministries. The only videos that survive are a little less fun to watch, because they’re much lower quality and they’re laced with commentary, so as to comply with the Fair Use copyright law, and escape Rodney’s axe.
I personally preferred the videos without commentary. The videos really do speak for themselves.
There was a time when such nonsense as depicted in the video was fashionable (like 20 years ago at it’s zenith), and it’s removal is probably due to the deception being a little too obvious for his ministry’s liking, as today even the most “out there” Charismatics reject such absurd behavior as snake-oil. The entire Charismatic movement has been hemorrhaging adherents thanks to a huge apologetics movement spearheaded by people like John MacArthur (Grace to You Ministries, Strange Fire Conference), with the wackiest groups, like Brown’s suffering the greatest losses. The entire Charismatic movement has seen a shift towards becoming more moderate, likely due in part to the financial crisis of 2008, and the disenchantment of Millennials, whose BS meter is much more sensitive than their parents.
In the meantime, you can enjoy this video, before they take it down too:
– – – – – – – – – – – – End FYI– – – – – – – – – – – – –
I wish I’d taken the time back then to research Rodney Howard-Browne’s ministry. I might have felt less afraid if I did.
In my mind, I felt that God had used Rodney, imperfect vessel 2 or not, to convict me to vote for McCain, and not make a horrible mistake. I did feel it was a little convenient that this was being said so close to election day, but I was more worried about making the wrong choice, and offending God, than anything else. Religion can bypass every rational circuit in your brain. I was voting based on fear and emotion.
Today I’d say Rodney is much more than an imperfect vessel, and that well timed visit was a perfect example of manipulation in church.
So I voted for McCain. After he lost, I sat staring at my Facebook in amazement as my fellow Christians mourned over the loss of America to the “Anti-Christ” who also happened to be the first black President, Barack Hussein Obama. I’ve never been one to un-friend people over politics. I say live and let live. That day I unfriended a handful of my newer friends for what seemed to me to be borderline racist comments. They really could have been interpreted either way.
Election day 2008, was day I learned that you can’t be named “Hussein” and I felt somewhat sick to my stomach at the thought that if someone like Al Gore had won, it wouldn’t have descended to this level of abuse because he was white.
It didn’t matter though. A Christian friend of mine asked how I voted. I told him, “McCain.” I got my pat on the back.
“You’re a good man, David. You’re a good man.”
In 2000 McCain couldn’t get the Republican nomination because he was a “baby killer”.
In 2008, McCain was our champion.
In 2008 Romney couldn’t get the Republican nomination because he was “the Mormon”.
In 2012, Romney was our champion; because anything was better than “the Anti-Christ,” Barack Hussein.
By this time in my life, I was pretty much the way that I am now, though much less open about it. I had forgiven myself for any deception, fear mongering, and propaganda that I had fallen for or took part in before November 2011.
I was sort of in-between churches at this point, and trying to find a good Reformed church to attend in the valley. Like I said before, a couple weeks before November 6th, I’d already made my political spreadsheet and made my conclusion based on the issues I valued. I’d already sent in my early ballot.
Then this happened on October 27, 2012, just 10 days before the election:
It was the pastor of my now part-time church, giving a prophecy obviously regarding Mitt Romney, “the Mormon”. I read it and noted the 180 likes, probably all from our various Republican Charismatic church members. My mouth dropped.
This was a repeat of 2008, except it wasn’t as veiled as having a South African pastor question your politics.
Having been duped once in 2008, I wasn’t falling for this again, but apparently those 180 who *liked* the original prophecy, hadn’t sat in on that fateful Sunday night service with Rodney. It only solidified my resolve that by making the spreadsheet and voting for the candidate I actually agreed with, I was doing the right thing.
Eleven days later, around 11pm election night, when it was obvious Obama had won…
I took a screenshot on my phone and saved the prophecy and apology in my “remember” folder, because I knew this was going to be something I’d never want to forget. We human beings have very short memories.
I thought it was big of him to apologize — I can think of a few ministers that wouldn’t — and it added to what I have always respected about him, but it seemed more of an apology for getting it wrong, rather than for making the prophecy in the first place, 10 days before the election. The idea that God is on Mitt Romney’s side is going to sway a lot of undecided church votes.
I thank God when things like this happen, because the danger isn’t in getting the prophecy wrong. It’s in getting the prophecy right and what effect that has on your followers. What marketing steps do prophets typically take to remind people of their past success? You can see it in the first sentence of the October 27th post.
I voted for Obama in 2012, and he won. Facebook blew up again, though not as bad as 2008. I let people vent. I didn’t unfriend anyone.
We’re a little over two years until the next election, and those of you like me, who wish to honor God with your vote, while at the same time being equitable to your fellow man, will have a hard time reconciling the two. You’ll be made to be afraid. You’ll be told that this election will determine the very survival of mankind. You’ll be tempted to follow the safety of the herd. You’ll be comforted by pats on the back.
I’m not telling you to vote any way in particular. Despite voting for Obama in 2012, it looks very much like I’ll be voting Republican in 2016 as they seem to have mellowed out a bit and tend to skew a little Libertarian these days.
All I say to you is this:
Don’t be afraid to think for yourself. Don’t be afraid to take responsibility.