And Another Thing…



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.


Filed under: Faith and Religion, Politics, Rants, School, , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 Responses

  1. Roland says:

    It’s funny. I am starting to see a swing the other direction. Other direction being “if you are a Christian, you should be voting Republican”. I have seen many people over the blogosphere, including some big name preachers, insinuate that the true Christian thing to do is vote Democrat due to their huge support for social programs and the like. That Republicans/Conservatives are only greedy, rich folk who don’t care for God’s world or people. Of course, they don’t come right out and say that but you certainly can read between the lines in their writings. This would include two big names in Texas.

  2. odgie says:

    Roland – I *think* that I know who you are talking about. I read both of their blogs, and while they may wear their political hearts on their sleeves, I have yet to read either of them write “You’re not a Christian if you vote conservative/Republican.”

    Regardless; nobody – left, right, or center, has any business playing the faith card over how somebody else votes.

  3. Roland says:

    As I pointed out, they don’t come right out and say anything like that and note I didn’t say “not a Christian”. I said “if you are Christian you should vote for X”.

    When I was engaged in dialogue with one of them on their blog about a year or two ago, I pointed this out and the response was “Well, all you have to is look at the results from each. Republicans favor the rich and Democrats want to help the poor. What would Jesus do?” Nice, huh? Yeah, Republicans hate poor people.

  4. shannon says:

    “Harding University…pretty much allows intercollegiate athletes to do whatever they please without consequences, just like those anti-God state schools?”

    Care to document that?

  5. Trey Morgan says:

    Well thought out post. I enjoy reading your thoughts.

  6. Shayna says:

    I think that it’s interesting that people think Obama is pro-homosexual. He is against gay marriage. Not for a gay marriage ban, but he will not do anything to promote gay marriage.

  7. odgie says:

    Roland @3 – I don’t cotton to the “Christians should support __ ” either. And what that commenter said to you does demonstrate a pretty facile understanding of the issues between the parties. I have always taken the differences as philosophical, but that’s neither hear nor there. I follow what you’re saying, and like I said these blanket statements about the parties (or more to the point, their members) are uncalled for. Vote for who you like, campaign for them, argue your politics to your heart’s content ~ but condemning the other believer who disagrees with you over politics hurts everyone. Rest assured, the next fellow who writes a column in a paper condemning one of our fellowship schools’campus papers for supporting a Republican, i’ll take issue with him too.

    Shannon – I lived it for four years. During the fall semester of my sophomore year, I roomed with the RA of a wing that was taken up mostly by basketball players. Many of them were nice guys, some were first-class jerks. He busted them multiple times for various infractions, and what would have gotten a regular student “dormed” got them a slap on the wrist. My junior year an RA in Harbin who reported several football players for being out way past curfew got jumped and shoved out the door in his underwear in the middle of winter. I also heard plenty from a friend of mine who was a walk-on on the football team his first two years at HU. A friend of mine who worked as a security officer while waiting for his wife to graduate busted several football players w/ booze; he reported it but nothing ever came of it.

    I’m not saying that anyone should necessarily be kicked out for these infractions, but if we are going to have such rules they either go across the board for everyone, or they don’t go at all.

    Trey – Thanks.

  8. odgie says:

    Shayna – Good point. I have no way to gage his personal feelings on the gay lifestyle and don’t much care; but policy wise he seems neutral on gay marriage. How this will play out in the long-term, I have no idea.

  9. shannon says:

    Point made.

    Orange juice for one, orange juice for all.

    Ironically, just two weeks ago, HU’s All-American quarterback was dismissed from school for a conduct infraction.

  10. odgie says:

    Shannon – that is unfortunate, both the infraction and the consequence. But what goes for the one…well, you get it.
    I graduated in ’94 and am in no position to argue that things haven’t changed there. In fact, in light of this information I have modified my post accordingly.

  11. Roland says:

    You graduated in 1994 from Harding? I was 1993!! I also lived in Harbin for three years (third and second floor). I wonder if we know each other.

  12. @4 and 7:

    Apparently the exemption from stupid rules that student athletes once enjoyed is no longer available:

    Star Quarterback Suspended

  13. odgie says:

    Roland @ 12 – Its possible, although Roland is an unusual name and I think that I would remember if we knew each other. I literally lived all over campus ~ Armstrong, Keller, New Men’s (Allen Hall for any young’uns) before moving off-campus.

    Chris – Welcome and thanks for commenting. I agree these are stupid rules; but as Shannon and I discussed, what goes for one blah blah blah.

  14. David B says:

    A 2-9 season for the mighty Bison? The administration must be cracking down and thinning out the pagans. Wonder how long this will last…

    I agree with the original point of this post, though…to judge the faith of another based on their political preferences is just wrong. Or has Mr. Hemphill not read Romans 14:8-10? “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”

  15. Roland says:

    I was there from 88 to 93. Went from Armstrong to Harbin. I don’t remember an Ogdie there. 🙂

    Know many people in TNT?

  16. odgie says:

    David B @ 15 – Well, that about sums it up. Thanks and don’t be a stranger.

  17. Roland says:

    Those three names do but not your name. I did have quite a few friends in Knights.

    So, did you read all the Dark Towers?

  18. odgie says:

    Yeah, I did. A mixed bag, I thought, but not a dud in the bunch.

  19. Has anyone heard ACU’s reactiopn to this piece?

  20. odgie says:

    Good question EC, but I have heard zilch about the school’s response. If I do, I will pass it on, and hope you will do the same.

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