“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.” — C.S. Lewis
It used to be that Politics and Religion were the two things you never discussed in public. Now with the rise of social media, instant communication through the Internet, as well as the 24/7 news cycle, these topics seem to always be in the forefront. The most recent example of this is the horrific assault on the United States Embassy in Benghazi, Libya which left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead. Initial reports blamed a YouTube video that insulted the Muslim faith. We now know this was not the case, and the investigation continues to unfold. So whether we like it or not, this incident brings Politics and Religion front and center.
As someone who is both a Christian and a self-described political junkie, I discuss politics and religion often, and I do not feel a need to separate the two. While I do not agree with the way some express their political views–or their religious ones for that matter–I take no umbrage toward anyone doing so. As the old adage goes, “Opinions are like belly buttons: everybody has one.” The United States is also in an election year for the Presidency of the United States, so the amount of discussion and debate becomes more heightened throughout the campaign season.
I have recently run across articles that give their opinion on the role of Religion and Politics. The first article in Relevant Magazine: 7 Things Christians Need to Remember About Politics, was penned by Bryan Roberts, a pastor and church planter. Pastor Roberts expresses the belief that Christians need to elevate the debate rather than engage in it, because he feels the latter involves too much dirt, divisiveness, and does not serve the Body of Christ.
I can understand his points, and agree with a few of them. However, I feel much of the article is short-sighted, as well as simplistic. He appears to automatically assume that a person who debates politics is someone who loves to argue (perhaps), is “weak in their faith” (doubtful), and unloving (invalid). Like any good pastor, he even gives scriptural references to prove his points; but then, so do any of those Christians who argue politics. Pastor Roberts particular view on this insults Christian activists and organizations who regularly debate, protest, and lobby against Abortion, Human Trafficking, Poverty, and traditional family concerns. True, honest, and spirited debate need not translate to vitriol. But in Pastor Robert’s eyes, this is the always the end result.
There are two instances in the Bible of strong disagreement and debate between believers. One is in Acts 15:36-41 between Paul and Barnabas, and the other in Galatians 2:11-21 between Paul and Peter. In both instances, Paul verbally called out the other person, and in the first one, Paul ended up going in a different direction as a result of the disagreement. Yet Paul, Peter, and Barnabas are lauded as champions and apostles of the faith. So if disagreement and dissent were wholly evil, then the church would have been destroyed a long ago. Proper disagreement and dissent can often lead to a greater understanding of God’s purpose. Had Paul not disagreed and gone in a different direction, then parts of the Middle East and Asia would not have been evangelized.
The second article is written on behalf of one of the Presidential candidates, Governor Mitt Romney. David and Nancy French are the organizers for Evangelicals for Mitt. The French’s lay out the case in “A Call to Greater Action” that despite the differences between the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints and mainline Christianity, it is essential for evangelicals to rally behind this candidate. No vitriol here either, just a laying out of facts that with the recent Democrat stance on abortion, religious conscience and freedom, and the cooling toward Israel, voting for a candidate that honors life, champions the family, and Israel as an ally would be a wiser choice. For people who claim to hold those issues important to their lives and the life of the nation, this is food for thought.
The last example is a CNBC article, coupled with a video by Bishop E.W. Jackson (see below). Bishop Jackson has been a pastor for many years, and is now running for the United States Senate in Virginia. Bishop Jackson boldly declares that it is time for Blacks to leave the Democrat party. He has mounted a movement called EXODUS NOW to see this come about. In the article, Bishop Jackson describes his mission in starting this cause:
“‘They can say anything they want about me,’ says Jackson, ‘but I do not intend to leave Christians in bondage to a party that is hostile to everything Christians hold dear. Either we worship and rely on God or we worship and rely on a political party. We are supposed to rely on Almighty God, not the government or any party. When a party disdains God and His word, as the Democrat Party clearly does, it is time to leave that party.’ Says the Bishop, ‘This movement is not about Party, but principle; not about race, but righteousness. This is not about winning an election, but saving a generation.'”
In Luke 19:13, Jesus offers a parable about a landowner who gives currency to his servants and commands them to do business until he returns. As Christians, we anxiously await the return of Jesus Christ, and as C.S. Lewis eloquently stated above, it should shape our perspective on this life. But until he does, we have business to do on this earth. Part of that business involves being contributing citizens to our nation. As these articles and videos show, we often differ about how to do this, but what is clear through God’s word is that we are to engage in prayer (1 Timothy 2:2), in advocacy (Proverbs 31:9), and in the rights given to us as citizens: for Americans, that is our vote.
“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.” — G.K. Chesterton