August 25, 2016
The Presidential Election—
An Excruciating Choice
Dr. Richard Land Says Neither Presidential Choice Is Hopeful But One Poses a Greater Evil, and Voting for a Third Party Candidate—or Not at All—is Taking the ‘Pontius Pilate Option’
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Many Christians are struggling about the choices they will make at the polls come November. Therefore, The Christian Post, one of the largest online faith-based publications, is doing its part to create conversations about this crucial election.
The Christian Post editorial board, which includes Dr. Richard Land, Evangelical leader and president ofSouthern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu), recently came together—for just the second time in the publication’s history—to pen a group editorial titled “‘Crooked Hillary’ vs. ‘Scam Artist Trump’: What’s an Evangelical Voter to Do?”
After the group editorial, two follow-up pieces, one written by Land and the other by Christian Post Opinion Page Editor Dr. Napp Nazworth, gave potential voters two further options. Land argues that because of the dangers presented to the country, and Evangelicals in particular, by a Hillary Clinton presidency, Evangelicals should reluctantly vote for Donald Trump. Napp, on the other hand, argues that Evangelicals should cast a protest vote instead of supporting Trump.
“This presidential election confronts Christians with a terrible dilemma,” Land writes in his piece,“The Presidential Election—An Excruciating Choice.” “Many feel that choosing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8 confronts them with an intolerable outcome. Which one is worse? They find both major party candidates to be morally compromised and are struggling with the dilemma of how to respond. Scores of them have contacted me personally and asked, ‘What should I do? What are you going to do?’
“My answer is, first, you have a moral obligation to vote,” Land continued. “I believe Romans 13 makes it clear that supporting the civil magistrate ‘for conscience sake’ includes not only obeying the law and paying your taxes, but voting your values, your beliefs and your convictions. Your ultimate loyalty must be to Jesus, not any political philosophy or party. Choosing not to vote is disobedient to our Lord’s command to be salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16). Choosing to wash your hands of the whole thing and withdrawing from the process—what I call the ‘Pontius Pilate option’—is not a valid or defensible alternative for Christians.”
Land went on to say that, to him, voting for a third party candidate is essentially the “Pontius Pilate option” and the consequences of this truly “fork in the road” election are too important to merely cast a protest vote.
“So, how am I going to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?” Land asks. “Let me be as transparent as possible. I know several of the Republican presidential primary candidates personally, and they all were far preferable to Mr. Trump. Out of the 17 Republican primary candidates, Mr. Trump was my 18th choice.
“However, I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton under any circumstances. Why? First, she is the most pro-abortion presidential candidate ever nominated by a major party. In her husband’s Democrat Party, they asserted that abortion should be ‘safe, legal and rare.’ As the Washington Examiner observed, now ‘Democrats encourage women to be proud of their abortions. The party abandoned the word “rare” in the 2008 platform, as abortion activists began claiming that the word stigmatized something that was both a benefit to society and a constitutional right.’”
Clinton and her party, Land added, also want to overturn the Hyde Amendment and force every American citizen to pay for the killing of unborn citizens.
“Second, Mrs. Clinton and her husband are morally and financially corrupt on a scale previously not experienced in American presidential life,” Land says. “They both seem either unwilling, or incapable, of telling the truth. … Furthermore, the financial corruption of the Clintons is a truly lethal threat to American democratic government. The Clinton Foundation is the chief conduit of ‘Clinton Corruption, Inc.’ The level of financial corruption, ‘pay to play’ and influence peddling is so massive that it may have the capacity to overload our entire federal government to the point that it simply collapses.
“So, in a fallen world, faced with the painful choice of choosing between the lesser evil (Donald Trump) vs. the greater evil (Hillary Clinton), I believe I have a moral obligation to vote for the lesser evil,” Land continues. “Otherwise, I become morally culpable for the greater evil prevailing. … We have all heard ‘don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.’ Just so, we should not let the bad be the friend of the worst. In other words, don’t let a flawed candidate deter us from opposing the much worse opponent.”
In “‘Crooked Hillary’ vs. ‘Scam Artist Trump’: What’s an Evangelical Voter to Do?,” the Christian Post editors began, “During the Republican nominating contests, we, the editors of The Christian Post, encouraged Evangelicals to back away from Donald Trump. It was the first time we had taken a position on a political candidate. Given Trump’s claims that he speaks for and represents the interests of Evangelicals, we thought it was important to take a position during the primaries, given Trump’s potentially fatal flaws. Now that the Republican Party has chosen Trump as its nominee, we, like Evangelicals across the country, are split on whether to support Trump in the general election.”
Now, the message is a bit different. The most recent group editorial made three key points:
1. Evangelicals should not vote for Hillary Clinton.
“Clinton has repeatedly not told the truth,” the editors wrote. “Throughout her public career she has been disturbingly unmoved when caught making demonstrably false statements, a pattern that continues to this day. Her emails, made public by court order, show she even lied to the parents of fallen heroes after the Benghazi attack, and later accused one grieving mother of not telling the truth. As Secretary of State she shared top-secret information on her private, unsecured server, all to keep her records from public view (an act which she also denies). People have gone to jail for doing less. She should have been prosecuted for these offenses. That she wasn’t prosecuted illustrates what Trump, and many others, have been saying—the system is rigged to protect the wealthy and well connected. Her callous approach to our nation’s security—putting her own interests above those of the nation—is also disqualifying.”
2. No doubt, Evangelicals are looking at third party options.
“We believe the only options Evangelicals should consider are to vote for Trump or to cast a protest ballot,” the editorial continued. “Those who choose the not-Trump option must still vote. There will be other races on the ballot. Besides the entire U.S. House and one-third of the U.S. Senate, many state and local elections will be decided on that day. The not-Trump voters could signal their protest by voting for a write-in candidate or leaving that race blank while making selections for the rest of the ballot. Never-Trumpers might even have a ‘protest vote’ candidate on the ballot in their state. This is a morally valid option. Indeed it must be considered a valid option, lest Evangelicals be considered a ‘cheap date’ to politicians. If you don’t want politicians who woo you before the election only to ignore you after the election, you must signal your willingness to walk away.”
3. Why should Evangelicals consider voting for Trump?
“Some Evangelicals go beyond reluctantly supporting Trump as the ‘lesser of two evils,’” according to the article. “They argue Trump would be a good president, and some have even called him a ‘morally good choice.’ We don’t question the motives of these Evangelicals, but we do question their wisdom. How can such a man be a good president? Conservative Christians had it right during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton when they said ‘character matters.’
“Full-throated support for Trump after claiming all these years that character matters for a president only strengthens the stereotype of Evangelicals as hypocrites. This is why the support Trump has received from some Evangelicals this election season has been an embarrassment and harmful to our public witness. Evangelicals who state publicly their support for Trump should only do so with a high degree of consternation in their voice, noting that the only reason they’re voting for a person who is so singularly inappropriate for the office is that the alternative is so much worse.
“Lastly,” the editorial concluded, “we encourage you to join us in praying for our nation. Absent some unforeseen circumstance, the next leader occupying the highest governmental office in the country will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. God help us.”
Land, who is also a member of Trump’s executive, non-endorsing board to provide advisory support on moral issues, also recently wrote a post for the SES blog “Why Do You Believe?,” which outlines the RNC and DNC stances on 11 platform issues.
SES is preparing for its 23rd annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics, hosted by Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C., on Oct. 14-15, approximately three weeks before the presidential election. The seminary will welcome such top name speakers as Norman Geisler, Richard Howe, Richard Land, Josh and Sean McDowell, Hugh Ross, Jay Sekulow, Lee Strobel, Frank Turek and J. Warner Wallace, along with many others. The theme of the 2016 conference, “The Defense Never Rests,” focuses on the ongoing charge to Christians to defend their beliefs rationally, intelligently and lovingly. For registration information, visit conference.ses.edu.
SES is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. Many courses focus on societal issues from a Christian worldview, delve into scientific apologetics or contemplate creation research.
SES explores ethical issues through its “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program; for more information, visit www.ethics.ses.edu. Southern Evangelical Seminary also recently unveiled a new apologetics blog at www.WhyDoYouBelieve.org, where Land and other SES voices address the most pressing issues of the day.
Land is featured in his nationally syndicated daily radio commentary, “Bringing Every Thought Captive,” which airs on almost 400 stations nationwide, including nearly 200 on the American Family Radio Network and 100 on the Bott Radio Network. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” is also podcast daily on the free SES mobile app and airs locally in the Charlotte, N.C., area every weekday. The “Bringing Every Thought Captive” television program, hosted by Land, airs on the NRB Network Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and midnight EST. “Bringing Every Thought Captive” also reaches nearly 2 million households in the Chicago area on the Total Living Network. For details about stations, times, downloads and more, click here.
Land has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor for several seminaries and has authored or edited more than 15 books. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree from Oxford University in England and his bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) from Princeton University. Land also earned a Master of Theology (Honors Program) degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received the Broadman Seminarian Award as the Outstanding Graduating Student. Dr. Land was the 2013 Watchman Award recipient from the Family Research Council for his leadership on moral and cultural issues. He also received the Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth from Biola University in 2010. Land served previously (1988-2013) as president of The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the Southern Baptist Convention’s official entity assigned to address social, moral and ethical concerns, with particular attention to their impact on American families. In 2014, he was appointed as a Senior Research Fellow of the ERLC’s Research Institute, and in 2015, he was named in the top 15 of Newsmax’s “Top 100 Christian Leaders in America.”
Southern Evangelical Seminary invites visitors to its web site to join the more than 20,000 people who have already downloaded the SES Apologetics App for Windows mobile devices and Android and Apple phones and tablets. Those with the app can get the very best news and information in Christian apologetics, including articles, audio, video, blogs and more from today’s most able defenders of the Christian faith—William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, William Dembski, Frank Turek, Hugh Ross, Gary Habermas and other well-known speakers, authors and teachers.
Southern Evangelical Seminary has been ranked as one of the top graduate programs for General Christian Apologetics by TheBestSchools.org’s “Top 10 Graduate Programs in Christian Apologetics.”
For more information on SES, visit its web site at www.ses.edu or its Facebook page, follow the SESTwitter feed, @sesapologetics, or call (800) 77-TRUTH. For more information about SES’ “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program, visit www.ethics.ses.edu.
Southern Evangelical Seminary is a leader in apologetics education—teaching students to defend their faith and talk intelligently, passionately and rationally about what they believe and why they believe it. The Christian college and seminary offers a wide variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. Programs can be completed through residence in the Charlotte area or online. The award-winning education at SES is distinctively Christian and focused on evangelism and world-engaging defense of the Christian faith—Christian Apologetics.