If David Kuo is disillusioned about the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives — or about anything else, really — he’ll need to stand in line. And I say that with no malice toward him or suspicion about his sincerity. Disillusion is part of the human condition. Yes, we’re created in the image likeness of God. Yet we are all people who by commission or omission disappoint our fellow human beings.
Kuo states: “I don’t know how anyone could be a Christian in politics and not be moved to think about matters of economic justice and social justice and racial justice.” A key error here is to equate keen Christian concern with government solutions for all of these problems. For all the flurry surrounding Kuo’s book, though, his isn’t a new observation. In 1999, Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson wrote Blinded by Might. They make this piercing statement in the epilogue: “Our primary problems are not economic and political. They are moral and spiritual and cannot be resolved solely through politics.” Perhaps the source of Kuo’s disillusion is not so much failure to honor the faith while doing the politics but the failure to realistically understand the people who work in both fields.
People who work in the West Wing, in Congress, in the media, in churches, anywhere — down to our own families and neighbors — ALL will eventually be the SOURCE of another’s disillusionment. Some just get more press than the rest of us.
Some work against it more than others; many make no pretense of caring. Even those who strive for the honorable still fall. Ted Haggard’s friends and flock are no more disappointed than King David’s subjects were when his immoral choices were revealed (2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12).
The issue is not IF we will disappoint and suffer the same, but rather how and when — great men and women included. The issue is what will we do subsequent to such failings. David Kuo recommended a “two year fast from politics.” The impact of that recommendation in times of national and worldwide upheaval is at the least irresponsible. As Marvin Olasky noted, “… the irony of Kuo’s critique of political idolatry is that, if followed fully, it would increase the power of those who are the most idolatrous. If the saints go marching out, others will march in unimpeded.”
Political idolatry and the risk that people of faith have of being used by politicians is a non-partisan phenomenon; since the so-called values vote was underscored in the 2004 election, both parties have been scrambling to attract followers of the Faith-Based Initiatives. But there just isn’t enough righteous rhetoric to avoid disillusion.
Mark Early, president of Prison Fellowship, provided a realistic alternative to the political fast. His “Purists and Politics” commentary encouraged all voters to look for the best candidate among the field. Do your homework to make that choice responsibly. Look for the honorable leader, not the perfect one.
Dr. Evan Offstein’s new book, Stand Your Ground argues that honorable leaders don’t search for excuses. Instead, they search for more responsibility. They want to be held accountable for their decisions and actions.
November 7, 2006, presents us with a good opportunity for a fast — but not the reclusive one that Kuo and now others have latched on to for yet another round of political one-upsmanship. Instead of taking time for food today, take that time to do what you can to elect honorable leaders, those who have worked to make themselves accountable in their actions before they asked for your vote.