Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Faith and Politcs, Revisited

This article first appeared in our church newsletter, The Proclamation.

In April, our church invited several guest speakers to come and be a part of our four-week study on the relationship between religion and politics. We considered the role of the church and the role of the faithful Christian in the secular political arena. These are very different roles. As our country has now moved passed the Olympics and the convention meetings of both political parties, our televisions and radios will become even more inundated with a constant barrage of political advertising, punditry, and talking-heads. I think this is a good time to revisit the topic.

Some in our congregation will become more heavily involved in the political process than others – I suppose that is the nature of things. I hope those who are a part of our church family will help bring Christian civility to the process. I know we can. In recent generations in our secular political culture the strategy for winning elections has become all too clear. The way to win is to attack your opponent. The way to win is to demonize him or her. The way to win is to create an “evil” enemy which must be defeated. This strategy is taught by political strategists and seemingly embraced by every part of the political process. However, I believe this strategy to be decidedly anti-Christian.

Jesus never taught us it was appropriate to smear, attack, or demonize another – even if his or her policy opinions stand in direct conflict with my own. Republicans will try to tell us all Democrats want to destroy families and have the government control everything. Democrats will tells us all Republicans are war-mongers who hate poor people. Both will claim their opponents are anti-Christian. Both will be wrong. We will hear a great deal about a supposed “Christian worldview,” as if someone other than Jesus has been able to completely elucidate this concept.

Unfortunately, we will also hear politicians of every persuasion talking about the Bible, even using the Bible. The more I hear politicians using scripture, the more I wish politicians wouldn’t use scripture; they are not very good at it. However, as Christians we should certainly allow scripture to frame our decision-making. Our faith will always be a vital part of who we are and how we vote. However, we should not allow politicians, TV analysts, or talk-radio personalities tell us what being a “Christian voter” should mean. And we should not allow the bitterness in our culture to keep each of us from doing our part (voting). The challenge will be to refuse to lower ourselves to what has become the standard in the world. Our church has among its membership faithful Christians who are Republicans and faithful Christians who are Democrats. If we follow the lead of the world and begin to demonize each other, we will have become, regardless of our policy opinions, anti-Christian.

Grace and peace,