Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Caaamper's Political Foray-Politics & Religion


Pre-Statement:  As I create these politically-focused articles, I want to say up front that I reserve the right to change my mind.  I am slightly hesitant to write these because the climate for political speech is so heated and volatile right now and there doesn’t seem to be room for respectful disagreement.  I don’t mind if you don’t see things the same way that I do, and I don’t mind if you post comments to express that disagreement.  However, I do expect all comments to be thoughtful, respectful, and devoid of vulgarities.  If I find them to be offensive, I very well may delete them.  One last thing, please understand that I hold no animosity or hatred toward any group, and just because I may find a certain lifestyle preference to be wrong, or because I may be against certain policy positions doesn’t mean that I’m “phobic,” hateful, or bigoted.  Let’s be real.  We all have things in life that we find to be against our views, but that doesn’t mean that we hate the people who participate in them.  Further, I don’t believe that you hate me if you simply see things differently.  Okay, on with the show.

Politics & Religion

When we were children, our parents would often say that the two things you should never discuss are politics and religion.  Arguments are sure to follow any deviation from this rule.  Lately, however, it seems that our country is disregarding these rules with a passion.  (Anyone want a chicken sandwich?)  In my view, there seems to be at least two factors at play, and both are bogus.  First, there seems to be a view that if you are a Christian, then you shouldn’t have a voice in public policy.  Second, some Christians seem to believe that they need to defend God.  At great personal risk, I’m going to give you my opinion on both of these points of view.  It is ONLY my opinion.
Here is the First Amendment of the US Constitution:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is one of the foremost and most basic laws of the United States of America.  Most of us who have lived our whole lives with this law cannot imagine a life without it.  (We should also keep in mind that not everyone in our world enjoys the same privilege.)  However, this law is problematic for the dogmatic and opinionated.
Can we all at least admit that the “dogmatic” and “opinionated” are not unique to conservatives or liberals, Christians or non-Christians, Democrats or Republicans?

I think both sides of most issues, especially the most heated of those issues, have begun to take the path of trying to berate those who disagree with them into political silence.  Bully them into oblivion.  I will freely admit that some voices in the faith-based arena have taken this tack.  However, as a Christian, I can certainly feel the pressure to shut up placed on “my kind” by those who disagree with views generally held by followers of biblical teachings.  Often, this is defended because some in our country have felt bullied by Christians, so when the opportunity arises they feel justified in returning the favor.  Let me just point out that if you are bullying a bully, that just makes you a bully too.
Frankly, I think we, as Christians, should shut up though. 

It is not our calling to dictate public policy to people who do not hold to the teachings of Christ, and often we are bringing disdain on the God we follow by the very words we utter.  But, that’s not my primary point here.  As citizens of the United States of America, Christians do have a right based on the first amendment to participate in the debate of public issues.  It is fine to disagree, but please refrain from trying to quell disagreement by bullying people.  Additionally, please don’t try to bully me into accepting your position on an issue by calling me names or ostracizing me from society.  As our parents used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.
This brings me to the second issue…the apparent perceived need that some Christians feel to defend or protect God or faith in Christ.  This is why I think we generally need to just shut up.  God doesn’t need us to defend Him.  He is quite capable of defending Himself all by Himself should He feel the need.  Christians are called to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to obey everything I (Christ) have commanded….”*  That is our mission.  We make disciples of Jesus by teaching them….not bullying them…not berating them…not legislating them…TEACHING them.  It is a voluntary process.  If they don’t want it, we don’t try to make them.  If they don’t want to mold their lives to the teachings of scripture, then we don’t beat them over the head with the Bible.  Jesus said to “Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”**

In conclusion, I think that Christians have every right to participate in the US political process.  They have a right provided by our constitution to state their views and should be respected as much as any other group in doing so.  However, I think they should often refrain from doing so and instead focus on their higher mission.  They should teach and not berate.  If they take care of the poor…if they clothe those who need clothing…if they feed the hungry…if they house the homeless…people will respect their views.  If they speak first… before they care…, they lose credibility…right or wrong.  Again, another reason that I am hesitant to write this particular series of blog articles.  Maybe I need to take my own medicine….because I freely admit that I am a Christian.

*Matthew 28:18-20 (words of Jesus)
**Matthew 5:16 (words of Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount) 

2 comments:

  1. Nice post, Mike. I'd add a couple of quotes/thoughts to this. One that often comes to my mind is a song I learned in youth group - with the refrain - "And they'll know we are Christians by our love". When I see self-proclaimed Christians acting otherwise in word or deed - some of which you describe - it makes me ashamed.

    And my view of being Christian is that we are called to be the body of Christ in the world - act to bring about God's reign as much as possible. It's why we regularly observe the sacrament of the last supper - to be fed spiritually to go out into the world to do that work. And sometimes that work is through the political sphere.

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  2. Great start to your series Mike. This is my second releasing but it was just as good as the first. There used to be a saying taught to the youth of America: I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. ". Also notice it says Congress shall not make laws regarding any establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That doesn't just apply between denominations, Catholics, or members of the Church of Christ. Irt protects the religious practices of Jews, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindustani,Atheists, and thousands of others. That might be a tough pill for some of us to swallow right now.
    I must point out it protects religious practices, not political ideologies that can masquerade as religion. Jesus said even Satan masquerades as the Angel of light. Did you also know, which I did not until a recent reading of the original text of the Constitution--which I would highly recommend if you're throwing your hat into political discussions--that in the Article describing the qualifications and parameters of the Executive Branch (President and related items) that it specifically says "NO TEST OF RELIGION SHALL BE GIVEN TO A CANDIDATE ASPIRING TO THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENCY". That means our presidednt canbe a practicer of the religion of his/her choice. That is a. Big OUCH on me because I didn't really think outside of the Christian faith to the Muslim one of our current President.
    The key lies in what you wrote about our mission Mike. We are to go into THE WHOLE WORLD to bring in ANY and ALL LOST to Christ. This is religion. Pure Christianity in obedience to His word.
    Where the problem lies with President OBama is not his religion. He can choose to be saved or lost at his own soul's peril. It is in the POLITICAL aspect of the Muslims who want to have one world government controlled by them, and if you have time to read some of their more undemocratic aspects you will find that individual liberties will ALL be gone, including the freedom to CHOOSE YOUR RELIGION. EVEYONE MUST CONVERT TO THE MUSLIM FAITH OR DIE. HMMMM.
    Maybe we better pay attention to politics after all if we don't want to return to the physical levels of persecution of the 1st Century Church. God is the same yesterday today and forever. He has always and will always allow persecution of His People if we don't start obeying Him.
    May God help us to avoid this and.get Christians making the political and religious differences NOW. TIME IS SHORT. PLEASE PRAY FOR OUR NATION AND THE PART OF HIS PEOPLE IN IT.

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