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Wrapped in the Robes of Politics

My Uncle Will called me this week. He was very excited.

“Have you heard about Circuit Judge Ashley McKathan down in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Covington County?”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
Unfortunately, I had heard of him. Judge McKathan shocked lawyers and others this past week when he appeared in his court wearing a robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on the front.
 
And not just the little tablet insignia that folks use to symbolize the commandments. No, he embroidered the actual commandments in King James English in letters large enough to be read from across the room.
 
When asked about his decision to wear the commandments Judge McKathan replied that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth, “and you can’t divorce the law from the truth.”
 
It’s also hard to divorce a sure-fire gimmick from a political opportunist. As soon as the ACLU gets into it we will have another Alabama judge with unlimited national exposure.
 
At any rate, Uncle Will was excited.
 
“This gives me a great idea,” Uncle Will was saying. “I am going to design a special line of clothing for politicians to wear during their campaigns.”
 
It turns out he had thought the whole thing through in great detail. Uncle Will said his design would resemble a regular business suit. Instead of grays, blacks and blues, however, all of Uncle Will’s line will be whites, yellow and light green. The light colors are important.  The suits are designed to be fitted with patches featuring corporate logos.
 
Say for instance a candidate is getting money from an insurance company. Right in the middle of the back, in that broad space across the shoulders there would be the insurance company’s logo.
 
Or maybe a petroleum interest has given money to a candidate–the oil company’s logo could be conspicuously displayed on the breast pocket.
 
For smaller promoters, or even individual contributors, space is available on the lapels, down the sleeves, or on the side pockets.  The side of the trousers and the tops of the shoes are also great places for candidates to display their corporate sponsors.
 
The issue that really got Uncle Will going, however, was his design for candidates who used God and the Bible in their campaign. If the candidate claims an endorsement from God, where do you put the logo?  And what logo do you use?  Uncle Will has several design prototypes. One design features the Ten Commandments in the background with bold print in the foreground declaring, “I Support the Big Ten!”
 
Another design uses a cross to display the message.  Running along the horizontal part of are the words “What Would Jesus Do?”  Then, written down the vertical post, “Vote for Joe!”
 
There are some combination packages available for those instances when a candidate has managed to bring together two different types of supporters who both share an interest in the campaign. One prototype uses the logo of a regional bread maker paired with a religious endorsement.  Written inside a picture of a loaf of bread are the words, “Give us this day our daily bread, and Joe for Governor!”
 
I found myself having trouble sharing Uncle Will’s excitement. I asked him if he was concerned that using religious symbols in this way might somehow cheapen or distort the Scriptures and the image of God.
 
Uncle Will paused for a moment and then said, “Well, if a judge thinks it’s all right to wear a robe decorated with the Ten Commandments, it doesn’t seem to matter what you do with the Scriptures.”
 
It doesn’t seem to matter.
 
James L. Evans is pastor of Auburn First Baptist Church, Auburn, Ala.