Even as the dust settles from the recent election, the spoil sporting continues. It appears that Abilene Christian University has come under fire in a recent column in The Abilene Reporter News by one of her alumni because the student paper, The Optimist, endorsed Obama.
Steve Hemphill, the author of the column, is surely within his rights to criticize his alma mater and to disagree with the student paper, even to take his toys and go home refuse to pay for his children to go there and to stop sending donations. However, I think that his logic is faulty on multiple levels. Consider:
Loyal donors aren’t going to be loyal to a “Christian” school with liberal, anti-God endorsements.
I recently asked an ACU professor, “What if I told you I had just come into some money and was interested in giving $300,000 to ACU or Harding, and ACU would get it if they (The Optimist) withdrew their endorsement of Obama?” He replied he would recommend not accepting it. He indicated that money shouldn’t influence a political decision or affect a moral position. I agreed. Moral positions shouldn’t be changed for monetary gain. But now we have a problem. That’s exactly what The Optimist did. It endorsed Obama, noting the primary reason as the economy.
Sadly, this is the state of the union — economy over morals.
First, the school did not endorse Obama. The student-run campus paper did. Second, his differentiation of economy and morals rings false – how we spend our money is a moral issue. Furthermore, as Mr. Hemphill notes, in a campus poll, the majority of students stated their support and intention to vote for McCain. Of course, Mr. Hemphill takes issue with the paper over this as well:
This minority endorsement is a reflection of that. The campus majority favored John McCain (in an Optimist poll). The paper didn’t reflect the feelings of the majority…
Granted, it’s only a campus newspaper. And while we could certainly debate the merits of any newspaper offering an endorsement of any candidate (personally, I’m against it) is any paper, even a student paper, obligated to adopt the majority stance? And are Christian schools (or any other school, for that matter) obligated to censor all editorial content in their papers?
There is also the disturbing phrasing he chooses in the top quote, “liberal, anti-God”. So I guess that everyone who voted for Obama is a liberal, and anti-God (why even separate the two, when in this fellow’s mind liberal politics automatically equals anti-God?). Good to know. Has it ever occurred to this gentleman that people might be more than their politics? That people other than registered Republicans can cast votes from spiritual convictions? That politics is an inherently sleazy enterprise and to seek pillars of faith among the elected is a waste of time and energy?
Next, he offers one of the most unctuous guilt-trips I have ever read (and I used to be a youth minister!):
One day, we’ll have to give an account, we’ll have to face those 45 million American aborted babies in eternity and explain ourselves. Somehow, I don’t think we can change their minds by saying, “I’m so sorry for voting for a man who supported abortion, but he was the best choice for the economy — I’m sure you understand.” They won’t. And God doesn’t.
I have already explained why [Comment 9] I put little stock in any presidential candidate’s stand on abortion ~ I have yet to see an compelling evidence that a president’s position on abortion has any effect whatsoever on the number of abortions performed in this country. I have also stated that Obama’s double-talk on this issue was a deal-breaker for me. But suppose that Obama actually delivers on his promise to lower abortions in the US through some of his policies…is Mr. Hemphill ready to eat crow over this?
He goes on:
The school paper is a reflection of ACU, and it endorsed a political candidate who supports abortion and homosexuality.
I can’t help but snicker when someone is accused of “supporting” homosexuality. I imagine someone running around yelling, “C’mon straights! Let’s try a little switch-hitting! Its fun!”
Next, he quotes Proverbs 14:34 (in the NLT no less): “God-devotion makes a country strong; God-avoidance leaves people weak.” The NASB translation is probably better: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” I certainly wouldn’t quibble with any of the wisdom to be found in Proverbs; but I wonder if he realizes the broad application of this verse? As a graduate of a Christian college, I can assure any reader that our campuses are, sadly, rife with sin; we just hide it better. I wonder if Mr. Hemphill is as concerned with the binge-drinking, casual sex, sanctimony, and hypocrisy rampant on our campuses as he is with the subjective endorsement of a handful of students. Does he care that Harding University, which he holds up as some moral light shining in the darkness, pretty much allowed intercollegiate athletes to do whatever they pleased without consequences (at least when I was there), just like those anti-God state schools? Favoritism is a sin too, kids.
My point is simple: Who is Mr. Hemphill, or myself, or you, or anyone to judge another’s faith, especially by how he or she votes? That is a dangerous game for any of us to be playing.