A popular pastor whose messages reach millions of homes worldwide told his congregants and viewers who to vote for in the upcoming presidential election. Jesus.
At a time when pastors across the country are endorsing candidates in protest of IRS rules that prohibit nonprofit groups from intervening in a political campaign, Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, threw off a pair of TOMS Democratic and Republican canvas shoes and urged, "Vote for Jesus!"
"What I'm talking about is much bigger than a donkey or elephant," Young said in his latest "Politicked" sermon. "This whole thing's about Jesus."
In the days leading up to this past weekend's sermon, the anticipation arose as Young said in his blog that he was going to "put [his] reputation on the line" by telling his congregation and television viewers exactly who should lead the country over the next four years.
While some pastors have already come out with endorsements for Republican nominee John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama, Young made a less partisan yet still forthright plea to fellow Christians – to pull the lever for Jesus.
"How can we vote right if we're not living right (not in the partisan sense)? How can we put a righteous leader in office if we're not reflecting righteousness?" Young posed. "Everyday we're pulling the lever. Who are you pulling the lever for? Jesus or you? Jesus or relativism? Jesus or secular humanism?"
"Vote for Jesus" is not an unfamiliar slogan in this year's campaign. Christian activist Shane Claiborne embarked on a "Jesus for President" national tour, based off his book. Dismissing partisan politics, Claiborne has encouraged people to "go deeper" and endorse what is at the heart of Jesus, as he told CNN earlier.
Clothing stores are advertising "Vote for Jesus" T-shirts and with evangelical voters a major focus during the 2008 White House race, many are posing "Who would Jesus vote for?"
Brushing partisan politics aside, Young has called Christians to look to where many might not find a clear answer when deciding on their presidential pick.
"This might shock you and rock you. The Bible tells us who to vote for," he said.
Young's Jesus "endorsement" followed five points he made during his sermon to help guide Christians as they head to the voting booth in less than one month.
He called Americans to vote for "the right person" based on character – more specifically, godly character – conviction or belief, courage, compassion, and constituency.
"Character can be defined as who you are when no one's looking," the Fellowship pastor laid out. "[T]he politicians have said who you are in private does not really affect who you are in public office. That's absolutely nuts because who you are in private is who you are."
He continued, "Character is an outward reflection of an inward connection. The righteousness of Jesus is imputed into my life. I cannot muster up righteousness. ...when I receive him, he gives me the righteousness."
"Are they producing godly character?" Young asked about the potential candidates.
Explaining the significance of constituency, Young posed, "Who applauds this potential candidate? And, here's a big one, who opposes them?"
"If the mainstream secular media supports a candidate or an issue, there is a great chance that something is sideways and you better look at that one very, very closely."
Young's sermon is the second in a controversial series titled "Politicked?" Young aims to get behind all the political rhetoric and inform believers on "exactly" what to look for in a candidate while answering questions on faith and politics.