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Taking the Lord’s Name in Vain



A Huffington Post article recently highlighted the mockery that was leveled at President Donald Trump after a video of him was circulated showing him taking out a wad of bills and placing them in a church coffer. [1]


He was derided soundly for everything, from only giving a few bills, to the fact that he would dare to publicly attend church so close to the election. Many characterized his attendance as a badly executed attempt at cloying for the religious vote.


While President Trump’s attendance at one church, one time, should certainly not sway Christians to vote for him, the automatic assumption that his attendance at a church is disingenuous demonstrates how far our culture has come from living “in fear of the Lord.”

A spread in Religion News Service highlighted Former Vice President Joe Biden’s comparative sincerity after attending church, holding him up as more demure and pious than President Trump. [2] However, this forces us to beg the question: why do we allow the outward expression of religion to be used as a political weapon?


Christians know from Exodus 20:7 that we are not to “misuse the name of the Lord [our] God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” While interpretations have varied, the general consensus is explained by Todd Nance, a pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina who explained that to take the Lord’s name in vain is to invoke Him insincerely. [3]


Using a candidate’s apparent piety as a photo-op, on either side of the aisle, is a perfect example of invoking His name insincerely, especially in light of Matthew 6:1, which says: “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”


The fact that this is even being used as a talking-point demonstrates that many view the outward faith of their leaders as a charade intended to signal virtue. While it is fair to criticize candidates for using church attendance as a political pawn, the fact is, candidates would not use it as a pawn if they did not believe it would be effective as a method of manipulating the American public.


The instincts of politicians are not wrong: a poll published by Pew Research in 2019 indicated that, second only to socialists, atheists are the least likely type of political candidate for which Americans are willing to vote. [4] Nonetheless, it seems that many politicians, whether they are believers or not, seem more than willing to pay lip-service to religion, knowing that the electorate will look no further than to admire them as the Jewish people would have admired the pharisees praying on the street corners.


As it says in Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”


The American people must look further than a few tokens of marginal respect for religion. It should not be played as a chess piece in the game of political power. While it is certainly good for Christians to seek candidates who will protect religious freedom and support policies that align with Christianity, we must be careful not to let this be a tool of manipulation for politicians on either side of the equation.


Foundations of Truth hereby waives all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.


[1] Ron Dicker. “Donald Trump Drops Money Into Church Collection Bucket And Twitter Makes Him Pay.” The Huffington Post (October 19, 2020). https://www.huffpost.com/entry/donald-trump-money-church_n_5f8d5759c5b6dc2d17f8a4c4

[2] Jack Jenkins, “Both candidates went to church this weekend. Their experiences were very different,” Religion News Service (October 19, 2020), https://religionnews.com/2020/10/19/both-candidates-went-to-church-this-weekend-their-experiences-were-very-different/

[3] “Are you taking the Lord’s name in vain?” Courier-Journal (November 2, 2017), https://www.courier-tribune.com/lifestyle/20171102/are-you-taking-lord8217s-name-in-vain

[4] Justin McCarthy, “Less Than Half in U.S. Would Vote for a Socialist for President,” Pew Research (May 9, 2019), https://news.gallup.com/poll/254120/less-half-vote-socialist-president.aspx

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Foundations of Truth hereby waive all claim of copyright (economic and moral) in this work and immediately places it in the public domain; it may be used, published, edited, and distributed in any manner whatsoever without any attribution or notice to Foundations of Truth.