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Zero Tolerance for Political Attack Ads

If you believe what Harold Ford Jr. and the Democrats are saying, Bob Corker is millionaire booster of big oil companies, was an irresponsible mayor of Chattanooga who allowed 911 calls to go unanswered, and made a practice of purposely hiring illegal immigrants in his construction business.

If you believe what Bob Corker and the Republicans are saying, Harold Ford is an out-of-touch <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Washington liberal who doesn’t care about national security, can be seduced by trashy women who want him to “call me,” and wants to give abortion pills to schoolchildren. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
I don’t know about you, but I find the attack ads in this year’s Tennessee Senate race so foolish, ridiculous, and insulting that I cannot bear to watch them.
 
I have an idea; tell me what you think. Christians have become known for taking strong stands on certain political issues in political campaigns. I’m starting to wonder if perhaps we should take a break from advocating specific issues and focus instead on taking a strong stand on the methods by which politicians campaign. In other words, instead of focusing only on the ends, maybe we should take a look at the means.
 
What if all of us who claim to be followers of Jesus in Tennessee said something like this: “We’re not going to put up with sleazy campaigning. We don’t care if we do agree with you on certain issues; we’re not going to stand for telling half-truths and lies about other people. We’re not going to support you if you engage in character assassination. We’re not going to allow you to fuel division with misleading ‘us and them’ rhetoric. We will not vote for you if you treat your opponent like dirt.”
 
What impact would it have on campaigns if candidates knew that in order to get the “Christian vote” they would be held accountable, not just for their positions on issues, but for how they conduct their campaign and treated their opponent?
 
What if Christians in Tennessee told Corker and Ford (both of whom say they are Christians): “We will not vote for you if you do not treat your opponent like Jesus would.” That seems to be one thing all Christians could actually speak on with one voice.
 
Jesus had a lot more to say about how we treat other people than he did about the hot-button moral issues of the day that many Christians seem to be solely focused on. For Jesus, the ends never justify the means.
 
I’m Brent Beasley, and I approved this message.
 
Brent Beasley is pastor of Second Baptist Church in Memphis, Tenn.