Students learn that negative campaigning and messaging are used because they work in politics. Voters are likely to be swayed by hearing something negative about an opposing candidate or their position on an issue. That is true whether the information the voters hear is accurate or not. Why spread “misinformation”? Because it works! Some politicians and political advisors are least honest enough to say it is a smart strategy, that is, if a short-term win over a political enemy is the goal.
Disciples of Jesus have a different definition of winning.
The Bible has a different term for “spreading misinformation” with the goal of making someone else look bad in order to make us or our position look better. The term is “bearing false witness.” Spiritually, it is not winning, it is sinning. It breaks one of the 10 Commandments. (It still breaks the commandment even if the “other side” does it too.) Some politicians may see lying or shading the truth as being “smart” politically, but it is never wise for a follower of Jesus. Even when the truth is uncomfortable, even when the truth makes us look weak, it is wiser to trust God with the outcome than it is being politically or socially expedient.
Most of us are not professional politicians. But we all face the temptation of making ourselves look better by making others look bad. What bothers me even more than the young adults I work with being turned off by politics is seeing them turned off by Christianity. Too many young people have seen too many Christians shade the truth or “spread misinformation.” A disciple’s best example is always Jesus, not a politician, no matter how popular that leader may be or what party they represent. Jesus isn’t just known for telling the truth, He is the Truth. Let’s follow His example.