When Politics is Your Religion

Al Gore, when running for president, did not court Christians for their vote. John Kerry, when running for president, did not court Christians for their vote. Neither did Barack Obama nor Hillary Clinton. By "court" I am referring to rubbing shoulders with "religious elites" -- not that actual religious elites in Christianity should even exist -- promising them policy influence, special protection rights, and a favored ear for the price of their vote. I am glad that Democrats are not intermingled with socialite Christian celebrities like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell, Jr., James Dobson and Robert Jeffress, for the sake of the Gospel. Not that it matters anymore.

Since the Religious Right chose to wed its right-wing fundamentalism to the Republican party, the Gospel has been trampled under their feet, and Christianity has been mocked. Yes, mocked by the 81% of evangelicals who voted for Trump, and continually mocked by the recent 72% of evangelicals who do not care about the immorality of the sitting president. (link) They are in no sense shaken by the immorality of Trump; but you can be certain that these religious frauds and hypocrites are deeply troubled by the LGBTQ+ community. (link) If you are upset by my use of the nomenclature "religious frauds and hypocrites" then you are part of the problem.

I am not so naïve as to imagine that one's religious beliefs do not in any sense inform one's political persuasions. If one cares deeply about social justice values, of civil and equal rights for women, LGBTQ+ people and minorities, wanting to think and to live out what one has learned from Jesus at passages such as Matthew 5-7 then that one will most likely be persuaded toward voting for a Democrat. If one's interests and emphases maintain a sense of just war theory, complementarianism in the home and the abomination of homosexuality, convinced by a particular hermeneutical grid of biblical interpretation supporting such tenets then that one will most likely be persuaded toward voting for a Republican. Religious beliefs affect politics.

I realize that the Franklin Grahams and the Al Mohlers of Christianity are going to oppose equal rights for LGBTQ+ folks, including same-sex marriage, and insist that women belong in the home (John Piper). These are their views and they will be influenced to promote those views through social media, in sermons and in books, and, if possible, through legislation (though the likes of Piper will never succeed, even if he attempted, in legislating women remaining at home; and just the thought of it is so very ludicrous and knuckle-dragging that I could not believe what I was actually just typing). I do not at all expect these men to abstain from politics.

What I do expect from these men (and the case is typical for white evangelical men) is for them to publicly acknowledge that Republicanism, or any political ideology, is not Christian proper. That this statement is not considered a priori for believers in Jesus is disturbing to the uttermost. In the Southern Baptist tradition, in which I was raised, voting Republican was assumed and considered "the Christian vote." If so then Republicanism and Christianity are two names for the same body of beliefs; and we all know, or should know, that this is not the truth according to any casual reading of Jesus in the Gospels or the rest of the New Testament.



How can you tell when someone's politics is his religion? Well, if he equates the victory of his political party as God's very doing, then that man's politics is his religion. In such a case, in my opinion, that man has departed from Christianity proper and has adopted a political faith. If a man insists that criticism of his favored candidate is tantamount to disobeying and offending God then that man's politics is his religion. In such a case, in my opinion, that man has departed from Christianity proper and has adopted a political faith. Segments of evangelicalism have become apostate. They conflate their interpretations of scriptures with Republican politics.

When a man creates real-to-life political enemies from his ideological political opponents, and names them godless, then that man's politics is his religion. When he does not love the enemies he created, as Jesus commands (Matt. 5:44), then that man's politics is his religion. When he demonizes the political enemies he created, and scandalously shames entire groups of people with whom he disagrees politically and theologically, then that man's politics is his religion.

What is the result of conflating your politics with your religion or adopting a political faith guised in the garb of a political "Jesus"? The result is apostasy -- departing from the faith established by Christ Himself in the Gospels and the New Testament. In the end He will utter to such apostates: "Depart from Me; I never knew you." (Matt. 7:23) These religious men will, no doubt, cry out: "But we preached God's word and cast out devils and performed wondrous deeds!" (Matt. 7:22) But He will not change His mind. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Matt. 7:21) Your preferred political party is not Christian. God's kingdom is still to come.

3 comments:

Hugh Krone said...

OK Billy I'm not sure if anyone beside you reads my comments but just incase here go's. It may just be that a Christian shouldn't get involved with politics at all.I'm not foolish enough to think that I can ever fully see the world through your eyes but I can fight for your rights to be treated as a feelow human being created in God's image and you know it goes further than that, But you can't see through my eyes either. You don't have a picture in your top drawer of a son who was born at 20 weeks gestation and lived for 1 hour. You didn't watch your wife go through 7 miscarriages and 2 pre-mature births. Didn't watch an engagement when you were 18 end because the girl had an abortion. I don't really care about what these evangelical knuckleheads say and I am in fact disgusted by the hypocrisy. I wrote in for the last 3 presidential campaigns because I didn't believe either candidate was pro-life. So idon't know what the answer is and I really wish we could have Christian leaders who never let you know who they were voting for, but with a gun to my head I couldn't have voted for either of the last three Deomocratic presidential candidate either. Anyway if I just agreed with you all the time I wouldn't be me, and that would be no fun.

The Episcocrat said...

Hugh,

No worries. But my point is not necessarily who you vote for: my point is that our politics cannot be so closely related to our religious beliefs that they become indistinguishable. Truly, that is all I'm arguing here, and I'm not trying to convince anyone to vote the way I vote. We just can't have believers in Christ thinking that the Republican party or the Democratic party is "the Christian party." In our minds and in our speech we must separate them because the Gospel of Christ is not the Republican or Democratic agenda.

Hugh Krone said...

Agreed

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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.