A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

On Expecting Politicians to Tell the Truth

from Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic (HT: Scot McKnight):
Can we at least agree that the American people deserve the truth? That governing ourselves requires getting accurate information from the people who we elect? That their function is to represent us? And that they have no right to lie or mislead?

Opposing mendacity ought to be a no-brainer.

What I see instead is a mainstreaming of the notion that it isn't a big deal for a political candidate, an elected official, or an appointee to lie or deliberately mislead.

President Obama knew his rhetoric about the Affordable Care Act was misleading, and that many people who bought insurance on the individual market would be forced to get new policies when Obamacare made their policies illegal. The Chicago Tribune's Clarence Page thinks that Obama knowingly lied, but he isn't that upset about it, because "that’s one of those political lies, you know."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied to Congress about NSA surveillance while under oath. He was not forced to resign his post, let alone prosecuted, and in some circles more ire has been aimed at the man questioning him.

Dick Cheney remains widely respected among Republicans despite repeatedly deceiving Americans about the threat Saddam Hussein's Iraq posed to the United States. In interviews, mainstream-media figures continue to give his words the same presumption of truth extended to people who've never misled as he did.

Bill Clinton lied under oath and in a finger-wagging statement to the American people. He is nevertheless one of the most trusted political figures in the United States today.
We all know that the first casualty in politics is the truth. What bothers me and what I have bemoaned on this blog time and time again is that how we Christians have so casually accepted the practice of uttering falsehoods when it comes to politicians we support. I witness Christians on the left and the right who will go after lying politicians on the other side of the political aisle with a vengeance while ignoring, or at the very least, minimizing or rationalizing the lies of their own. What this reveals to me is what Branson Parter notes, "When the 'conservative' or 'liberal' label becomes more foundational to our identity than the label 'Christian,' we're missing something."

And that is exactly what has happened when we allow our politicians to get away with misleading the public and outright lying because their political ends are more important to us than speaking the truth. Stanley Hauerwas says that the one thing the church owes the world is truth-telling and insisting that others tell the truth as well.

Which makes perfect since we Christians claim to follow Jesus who is the Truth.

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