The 2016 presidential election officially kicks off today with the Iowa Caucus.
I have no idea who will win and I’m not sure anyone else does either.
It’s been a bizarre election season so far to say the least. But one thing this election season does have in common with every other election season that has proceeded it is its ability to reveal our values or at least our values at the moment.
As candidates chase the nomination, they don’t simply rattle off policies and then sit back and wait for the votes to come rolling in. They work hard to pull at our heart strings and appeal to our sense of right and wrong in order to get voters to believe a vote for them is a vote for truth, justice, and the American way. In other words, politicians aren’t just campaigning on the basis that they have the best policy ideas, but also that they best embody American values.
It goes without saying that most of this is pandering, but the pandering wouldn’t be so effective if the values being held up as the American Way™ didn’t, in fact, represent the sorts of things we believe to be right and the ways we believe Americans should live their lives.
It’s also not exactly news that as much as some might want to claim the United States is a Christian nation, American values are often at odds with Christian values. And it’s just as revelatory to point out that despite their incongruity, many American values have somehow become entangled with Christianity and sanctified as Christian values.
There is, perhaps, no moment where the collision and collusion of these two worldview is more evident than on days like today.
So, as we begin the months long process of electing a new president we ostensibly vote for not just because we support his or her policies, but also because we believe they best (or at least better than the other candidates) emulate our values, it’s worth looking at the sort of values this election season has revealed so far and compare them with the way of life Jesus called blessed.
Or at least it is for Christians who will begin casting their vote today in the name of Jesus.
So, in the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount, I’ve put together a list of some of the American Beatitudes I’ve seen revealed both in the current election as well as through national discourse in recent years.
You may notice a few slight differences between the American Beatitudes and their biblical counterpart.
You may also have a few more of your own to add to the list. Please feel free to do so in the comments section with my blessing. (See what I did there? Blessing. Get it??)
Anyway, here they are in no particular order, the American Beatitudes….
Blessed are those who have the most stuff, for they shall find prestige and comfort in their things.
Blessed are the proud and boastful, for they shall be called true patriots.
Blessed are those who hold a grudge, for vengeance shall be theirs one day.
Blessed are the well armed, for they shall be feared and protected from harm.
Blessed are the rich, for they shall be envied and have their way in all things.
Blessed are those who exploit the poor and the weak, for unto them all things shall be cheap and made available on demand.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for security above all else, for they shall find peace just over the horizon.
Blessed are those who keep out the foreigner, for theirs shall be a land free of discomfort, challenge, and diversity.
Blessed are those who ignore the desperate cries of their neighbors, for theirs is the assurance of knowing God helps those who help themselves, not complainers.
And as a refresher, here are the beatitudes found in Matthew’s gospel….
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.