Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.
Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values. (Flickr )

In one of the most emotionally charged election seasons in recent history, two questions I am asked wherever I go are who I am voting for and how I could possibly support either candidate.

My response is always the same: First, in regard to my vote, I do not endorse any political party or any political candidate, and I never have. As a private citizen, I do give my vote to the candidate whose social agenda is closest to the values I hold dearest and that I believe most closely align with biblical values.

As a pastor, I challenge my congregation and television audience to do their own research and to vote for the candidate whose values they align with the most, especially as it relates to the five most critical issues for the church: sanctity of life, religious liberty for our churches and for Christian businesses and organizations, marriage as God defined it in the Bible, the vacancies on the Supreme Court, and the support of our most treasured ally, Israel.

In every major war that has ever been fought, in any land, there are two wars going on at the same time. The first is the actual physical war, taking place on the battlefield. The second war is where battles are truly won or lost, and that is the propaganda war that is waged by the media to win the hearts and minds of the people who make the decisions to support or withhold support. This is what is happening right now in America and the propaganda war is at fever pitch.

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Isn't it amazing that you can turn on one major news network and get a set of stories and views on the news of the day, and then turn over to another major news network and get an entirely different take on the same set of events. It is almost as if you are living in two different Americas.

That really is the issue at stake in this election cycle, propaganda aside. There are two entirely different views of America being presented to us by two entirely different candidates, especially as it relates to the sanctity of life, religious liberty, the traditional family, filling vacancies on the Supreme Court and support of Israel. History has also shown us that this war will be won or lost based not on what is best for America, but on whose propaganda campaign can hold the most sway over the voters.

Most, if not all, evangelical Christians share the same mind on these core issues, but I am disheartened when I hear so many Christians and Christian leaders say they are either not voting or they are voting for the candidate who embodies the opposite of the values we hold as critical. I am not blind to the faults and imperfections of both candidates, and the past behavior of both candidates is absolutely indefensible. But I also see it for what it is ... tools in the propaganda war designed to distract us from what matters most.

In the spring of this year, I was asked to serve on an Evangelical Advisory Board for Donald Trump, along with some pretty amazing men and women of God. Most will never know that Donald Trump told the pastors who have been advising him that when he turned 60 years old, a change took place and that he prayed and asked God into his life. Only God knows what actually happened in that moment, but he told us that this experience changed him profoundly.

One of the men I serve on this board with is well-known author and television talk show host James Robison. He said it best when he said, "Nobody who has put their faith in God should be held prisoner to their past." As I have served on the advisory board of pastors and Christian leaders, I and the other pastors speak strongly into Donald Trump's life, and we hold nothing back, and we have also had many moments of strong prayer and intercession. That is what good spiritual counsel does. And I know that godly men and women have been given an open door to speak boldly into the life of a candidate for the highest office in the land. That matters.

In the last debate, the nation watched in anticipation of the showdown between two very flawed individuals with so much focus on statements made over a decade ago. But what I will remember most is when they were asked about the Supreme Court and what values they consider most important. The distinctions between the two candidates were stark. One candidate's campaign recently released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, all of which are judges who will uphold the Constitution without attempting to legislate from the bench. Any honest evangelical would commend this list of nominees, looking for someone who was very much like the late Justice Scalia, while the other candidate said, to millions of viewers, the very opposite.

Franklin Graham said it like this: "Our nation's many sins have permeated our society, leading us to where we are today. But as Christians, we can't back down from our responsibility to remain engaged in the politics of our nation." Graham also highlights the importance of the Supreme Court nominations that the future president will make.

"Trump and Clinton scandals might be news for the moment, but who they appoint to the Supreme Court will remake the fabric of our society for our children and our grandchildren, for generations to come."

Lastly, in regard to which candidate or politician I support in any race at any level, my answer is also the same as it has always been. First, our churches pray for our leaders regularly whether we agree or disagree with their policies and stances. Second, when called on for counsel by a governor, senator or even a presidential candidate from either party, I will always respond and after much prayer, I will give counsel, as I have on many occasions.

But what should matter to all evangelicals is that Donald Trump has reached out many times these past several months to evangelical leaders nationwide for counsel, understanding and prayer, with nothing expected in return. That matters. And I would do the exact same for Hillary Clinton if I were called and asked. In Mark 2 Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.

There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, distortions and with one goal in mind—to keep evangelicals from voting. I am not asking anyone to vote for a flawed individual, but make no mistake, there is much at stake in this election, and I do challenge you without reservation to pray, fast and then to get out and vote your values—vote your faith.

Too much is at stake. We are calling on all of our churches and television audience to join together Nov. 6-8 to pray, fast and vote. Join us as we make our prayers heard in heaven and our vote registered on Earth.

Jentezen Franklin is the senior pastor of Free Chapel Worship Center, a multisite church based in Gainesville, Georgia. Franklin is the author of New York Times best-sellersRight People, Right Place, Right Plan and Fasting. His ministry extends internationally through the televised broadcast, Kingdom Connection, which is seen on television networks such as TBN and The Church Channel.

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