Religion and Politics

 

A colleague of mine approached me yesterday as I was making a cup of coffee.  He stood beside me for a few moments before he caught my attention.  When my eyes met his he asked the question which he had obviously predetermined, “Do you know what one of the greatest problems is for the religious?”  I’m sure I could have rattled off a list based on my own thoughts but decided not to.  Instead I asked, “What?”  With that he immediately responded, “The religious need to stay out of politics.”

I admit I was caught a bit off guard by his comment.  He was clearly speaking based on a sincere view, albeit one that I do not agree with.  In the moment I had very little to say and considering the environment there simply wasn’t time to say much anyway.  After a second I responded with a question of my own, “What about when politicians are signing into law the very things go against their religious writ?”  By the time he responded our conversation was being broken up.  He indicated something to the effect of, “the religious needed to be more tolerant.”  There wasn’t time for me to respond.

This brief conversation has been on my mind since. I’ve considered his thoughts and the sincerity with which they were spoken.  I do not believe he spoke out of a desire to be critical.  Rather, he was trying to articulate what he sees as a legitimate problem.  At the same time it has me considering my faith and heritage.  It also forces me to consider what I am fighting over and why I am doing so.

This morning I decided to look up the definition of politics.  In doing so I found that there are many listed.  Yet the one that seems most pertinent is this, “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy.”  In this world there are established governments and these governments are in place to lead nations.  It is the world’s system.  So naturally that which the government deems legal or moral will impact the people positioned under its rule.  When a people group begins pressing into a government in an attempt to influence policy or law it is normally motivated by a strong belief system.

Now, while I do not consider myself as “religious,” I do believe wholeheartedly that the Bible is the written word of God.  As such, the words therein are the primary source of what I know to be true.  The fact is there are many different world views that feed into and form the motivations of those who seek to influence politics, law makers and those who interpret our guiding principles as set forth in the Constitution.  Regardless of what motivates the views of people, asking them to remain silent about something that is at the core of their values is like asking a starving man to forsake food.

Say for example, that politicians were trying to legislate a law that required all children born with disabilities be euthanized.  Would people rise up?  I would think so.  Why would they do so?  Because such a law attacks and undermines our constitution which says that all men are created equal.

While I imagine that parents who have children with disabilities would spearhead a response stating that such a law is unconstitutional there would certainly be many others who support them simply because they see such a law as fundamentally wrong.  Or say for example that there was a political push to end cancer research and mandate that nature runs its course in those afflicted with this disease.  Certainly those with cancer and those with loved ones who are battling cancer would make a stand.  Even those who weren’t impacted but simply saw such a law as indecent and cruel would join in.

These are only examples and they may not even be the best ones but they do demonstrate a point.  For anyone to stay silent regarding something that violates their conscience is the same as them being complacent to it.  History has proven that those who remain silent have often been subjected to that which they once considered, “someone else’s” problem.

Considering the number of those who view themselves as Christians in this nation, clearly there has been a great deal of silence over the past several decades.  Christians remained silent as one of the tenants of our faith was torn down and children were no longer permitted to have public prayer in schools.  We remained relatively silent as Roe v. Wade hit the national stage and the legalized murder of unborn children was signed into law.

The list goes on, and each new thing seems to stem from the one prior to it.  Now we’ve reached a place where what was once an issue of public prayer in school is now an issue over the words, “One nation under God,” being spoken in our pledge of allegiance.  We also see that the initial abortion laws have been amended numerous times and even “partial breach abortions,” have become a heated topic of debate.  (Partial breach abortions involve severing the spinal cord from the head of an unborn child during labor while it is still in the birth canal).  Where is the, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” for such a child?

Meanwhile, there are other key issues such as the definition surrounding the institution of marriage that threaten to tear apart the very fabric of our society.

Clearly silence is not the answer.  As Christians we cannot simply remove ourselves from having a political opinion.  One of the things that make this nation great is that all are given a voice and an ability to speak forth.  It is our First Amendment right to do so.  Surely those who do not exercise such rights will lose them as their elective silence becomes legislated silence.

I for one, cannot stand idly by as freedom of speech is limited by what is now called hate speech.  The true Christian belief system does not value hatred but love.  Yet because the faith of Christians relies on absolute (unchanging) truth, those who hold to it are labeled as haters.

So, with all that said, it seems clear to me that Christians in the United States should have an interest and a voice in politics.  The thought of what would happen should we remain silent is a grim one indeed.

 

~ Mitch Salmon


Mitch SalmonMitch Salmon is a follower of Jesus Christ and proclaimer of the Good News – The Gospel of Christ Jesus!

 

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