The night Barack Obama was elected in 2008, my Facebook news feed lit up with theology.
I have a ton of conservative Christian friends, owing to a semester I spent studying at Liberty University for a book project. Many of them coped with John McCain’s loss by quoting Bible verses like John 18:36 (“Jesus said, ‘My kingdom is not of this world’”) to make the point that heavenly salvation, not electoral politics, was the first priority of a Christian’s life. By focusing on their belief in a higher kingdom, they were able to console themselves over the fact that the election hadn’t gone their way.
Judging from Erick Erickson’s latest column, the religious right is dusting that coping mechanism off in case of a possible Obama re-election on Tuesday.
My world view is pretty simple. I think this world is destined to go to hell in a hand basket by design. I think things are supposed to go to pot. So if Barack Obama wins, I won’t be upset. If Mitt Romney wins, I won’t be running through the streets cheering. I think, either way, it is all part of the design. The world is going down hill. Barack Obama re-elected just gets us down the slippery slope faster in my view. For others, it is Mitt Romney who does.
God is sovereign and He is in charge and He will return. That is my hope and my ever present expectation.
Erikson’s fatalism is rather crazy-sounding for liberals not used to the language of evangelicalism, but it is basically consistent with the eschatological views of millions of conservative Christians. And seen from their view, being unaffected by Tuesday’s results makes a certain amount of sense. If the Second Coming is imminent, why does it matter who sits in the Oval Office? And anyway, if God is a sovereign ruler and Obama ekes out a victory, isn’t that part of his plan?
Don’t get me wrong. Many conservative Christians very much want Mitt Romney to win this race. Right-leaning churches are conducting huge get-out-the-vote drives in an attempt to boost the GOP’s turnout on Tuesday. Billy Graham, the father of modern evangelicalism, is taking out newspaper ads urging Christians to “vote for Biblical values.”
But if all that fails, and Obama is re-elected despite their efforts, you can be sure that millions of Christians will once again use Biblical arguments very similar to Erickson’s to console themselves over the prospect of a second Obama term. And you can bet that evangelical pastors across the country will be preaching to full houses on Sunday.