Should You Conflate Your Religion with Your Politics?

There remains an argument that one cannot divorce his religion from his politics. In one sense I understand and even agree with the notion. One's religion should, or inevitably will, inform one's politics -- perhaps even vice versa. But what I have been arguing against, with regard to the Religious Right (and people like Franklin Graham, Mike Pence, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jr., Eric Metaxas, Ted Cruz), is the conflation of one's religion with one's politics. This is how we conclude that a particular party, in this case the Republican party, is perceived of as the Christian party by the Religious Right. This is overt idolatry.

There are liberal and conservative Christians, members of the same faith, who think very differently about politics and how this nation ought to be governed. So, when I suggest that one's religion will inevitably inform one's politics, I am awestruck by how the differences that divide us actually calls into question our respective views of the Christian faith in particular. I do not think that a nationalistic, gun-toting Jesus, who is anxious for war, who does not care about minorities or refugees, and perpetuates lies and corruption politically, who is also anti-equal rights for LGBTQ people and women, is the Jesus of the New Testament.

In such a case, then, those who view this kind of Jesus as the Jesus of the Bible are not, in fact, Christian. They are, rather, nationalists whose true religion is Republicanism. For, you see, Christianity is neither Republican nor Democratic. God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are not Republicans; nor are they Democrats; nor does God align God's views according to American politics. God is King of the universe. God has not declared God's views regarding tax reform or housing developments or infrastructure.

Yet God declared to Israel how we are to treat foreigners and immigrants (Lev. 19:34). Jesus teaches us to love every single person, enemy and neighbor, qualified as everyone (Matt. 5:43-48; 22:36-40). So, we could, nationally, suggest that treating immigrants and refugees with grace, humility and aid is a proper method of our faith informing our politics. We could also, in light of His words, ask ourselves whether or not certain policies harm or lovingly help the people of our country. But when we operate in this fashion, we do so assuming that America is a strictly Christian nation, and we reject any other worldview to influence American politics. Is the United States, then, a Christian nation?

We have no state Church. We maintain a separation of Church and State, so that the State cannot control the Church, and the Church cannot control the State. But that is not how the Religious Right operates. The Religious Right, for example, want to take away equal rights for LGBTQ people (Franklin Graham has made this unquestionably clear); and they declare they do so on "biblical" grounds. They believe that their faith is informing their politics. In fact, though, their "faith" has been conflated with their politics. This is how a theocracy operates: the (interpreted) laws of God become the laws of the land. What the Religious Right want is a theocracy. They have conflated their religion with their politics.

DONALD J. TRUMP (LEFT) AND FRANKLIN GRAHAM (RIGHT)

This, however, is exactly how the nationalistic and racist Alt-Right cult operates. But the Alt-Right cult and the Religious Right have core fundamentals in common: anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, and keeping women subservient. Regarding the latter, we have the Religious Right's inherent complementarianism theologically; with the likes of Alt-Right's Steve Bannon, we find this concession, women are "fine as long as they are the subservient, obedient to their husband kind." (link) Also, both the Alt-Right and the Religious Right propagate a "Church militant" ideology (to which Christ never called any one of us), and we are right to ask:
When he [Bannon] talks about the "church militant," who is he referring to? The suburban dad who works in IT or the KKK member who shows up to a Trump rally carrying an assault rifle? This is how to fight against Secularism [Franklin Graham and the Religious Right's primary enemy] on the most basic level: fear, intimidation and violence. (link)
But fear and intimidation are earmarks of the Religious Right -- fear of liberals, fear of gays, fear of women and foreigners (i.e., Muslims). This is why Religious Right preachers bully and manipulate congregations to vote Republican through fear tactics and a "pro-life" cause; since, as history demonstrates, the racist motive of the Right would fail to motivate many evangelicals today as it did during the time of the late Jerry Falwell. (link)

When people, whether on the Left or the Right, conflate their politics with their religion, their religion is always the casualty of dirty dealings, and corrupt motives. Lie upon lie upon lie from Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner, Ben Carson, and too many others to name in Trump's alt-reality, the evangelical support of Trump and his corruption has tainted Christianity because of the likes of Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, James Dobson, Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and so many others who claim to be conservative Christians.

There is no Christian political party; there is no perfect government on earth. There is one righteous Leader and His name is Jesus. Until He establishes a holy and eternal Kingdom to come, we are forced to doing our best in preparing the hearts of others to receive the King, and we cannot accomplish this task by muddying the Gospel with the dirty hands of politicians. Do not conflate your religion with your politics; unless, that is, your politics is your religion. In such a case, understand that neither Republicanism nor the socially-conscious DNC can save your soul, as humanity's only Savior is Jesus Christ. Trust in Him and Him alone.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.