How Do You Spell Corruption?

In all my years of ministry, I have never endorsed a political candidate—and I'm not going to start now. It is inappropriate, as I've written in Kingdoms in Conflict and many other places, for pastors or Christian leaders to do so. But I do have the right to tell people to pray, and that's what I'm going to do today. One of our own—a devout Christian and political leader—is under vicious attack, and he needs our prayers and encouragement. The man is David Beasley, Governor of South Carolina, a good friend whom I've known for many years. He's a deeply committed, born-again believer who got into politics because he sensed it was God's calling in his life. I've been with the governor in his home with his wife, Mary Wood, and their beautiful children. I've seen first hand how he has steadfastly maintained his Christian witness. And by all objective reports he's done a spectacular job as governor. Under his leadership, South Carolina has become number one in job growth, has seen record low unemployment and a 75 percent drop in welfare cases. Crime has dropped as well. This is South Carolina, the most Republican state in the South, so one might think Governor Beasley would be a shoe-in for re-election—and he seemed that way, at least until recent weeks. But the polls now show his support dropping like a rock, and in recent days his opponent has taken a lead in the polls. Why is Beasley in trouble? In a word: gambling. David Beasley has cracked down on video poker—knocked it right out of the state budget. He’s the first governor in America to try and drive gambling out of his state. And he's opposed to the state lottery. God bless him for it! The lottery is nothing but a rip-off of the poor. But the governor's audacity has earned him the undying enmity of one of the powerful special interests in the country—the gambling industry. By some reports, this industry is pumping a million dollars a week into South Carolina with the goal of beating an anti-gambling governor. It is a blatant attempt to buy an election, and they're not hesitating to play dirty. Convicted felons—including one who spent four years in a federal prison for vote buying—have been spending huge amounts of money to help Beasley's challenger, who's making his support of a state lottery the centerpiece of his campaign. Political opponents have even begun a smear campaign, spreading rumors that the governor has been involved in an extramarital affair—something Beasley has stoutly denied, and for which there is absolutely no evidence. It’s something I would find unimaginable. Well, what can we do about it? I'm asking the people of South Carolina to talk to their pastors. Not to endorse a candidate, but to denounce dirty gambling money right from the pulpit. I hope there is a wave of public revulsion against this kind of heavy-handed interference in the political process. It's an outrage. And I hope Christians across America will pray for Governor Beasley and his family, that they will be protected through this battle. I talked to the governor yesterday. He told me that he wasn't really concerned with the outcome of the election. The one thing that matters, he said, is his obedience to Christ. "If it costs me the governor-ship," he said, "so be it." This is one case where the church ought to recognize that one of its own has the guts to take on the special interests—the gamblers who fleece the public and are infiltrated by organized crime. You and I ought to be standing with him.    


Chuck Colson


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