The banner was on display election night in all its heavenly glory at the Mahoning County Republican Party headquarters in Boardman:
“IVoteGod.com” it read.
There was no mistaking the message Republicans in the area and around the country were sending for the presidential election: God is on our side.
The implication of that God-centric campaign was just as clear: Democrats don’t have the Almighty with them — and, thus, are doomed to go down in flames.
But a funny thing (theologically speaking) happened on the way to the Nov. 6 final count in the national election. The Grand Old Party’s religious arrogance led to its downfall.
President Barack Obama, who has been treated in a very un-Christian-like manner by so-called good Christians, won re-election handily. It could be said that Obama benefitted from divine intervention.
There was another banner on display in the Mahoning County Republican Party headquarters that also highlighted the GOP’s strategy in the presidential election. “Romney/Ryan Believe in America and your God-given rights,” it said, referring to the party’s presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, and his vice presidential running mate, Paul Ryan.
To understand just how far Obama’s opponents were willing to go to portray him as ungodly, consider the warning from Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, on the Sunday before the election:
“I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he’s not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
Jeffress’ comments were in an article by Michael Gryboski in Christianpost.com.
Gryboski wrote that the pastor of the Texas megachurch told his congregation that “it is time for Christians to stand up and push back against this evil that is overtaking our nation.” He said they should do so “via the ballot box.”
But Jeffress was just one of a long line of “holy men” (the quotations around the two words are meant to convey sarcasm) who went through unholy extremes to try to defeat the president.
Consider the position taken by the hierarchy of the American Catholic Church — those mostly grey-haired, white men who for a long time turned a blind eye to pedophile priests, but made the defeat of President Obama a religious imperative.
Of course, the bishops were careful not to endorse in the presidential election — the church’s tax-exempt status trumps all — but the pastoral letter they published left little doubt as to what they expected the faithful — albeit dwindling in numbers — to do on Nov. 6.
The letter that was written by Bishop George V. Murry of the Youngstown Diocese bore the hifalutin title, “A Call to Faithful Citizenship.”
“It is not the role of the bishops to tell Catholics for whom to vote,” the letter stated. “That would be a violation of an individual’s conscience. It is, however, the responsibility of the bishops to articulate the moral issues in any election and to share with you our Catholic Tradition regarding conscience formation to help you discern how you will engage in political life. In this column, I want to lead you through the basic tenets of Faithful Citizenship in order to help you form your conscience.”
Given the Catholic Church’s battle with the Obama administration over the issue of contraception, and its unequivocal stance on the issue of abortion, is there any doubt what the bishops were suggesting?
So, after the Republican Party’s fire-and-brimstone campaign, aided by members of the clergy, did Obama and the Democrats suffer the wrath of God? Of course not.
It wasn’t just the president who came through with flying colors. The GOP’s effort to take over the U.S. Senate failed, and Democrats even made some gains in the Republican-controlled House.
The message to the GOP is easily discernible: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.”