Politics and Religion

As society becomes more secular, those who lean secular tend to turn politics into their religion. They treat it as if it matters in the way I treat the resurrection of Christ.

Erick Erickson at http://www.redstate.com/2014/11/04/dont-be-crazy-pete/

This statement could not be more true. The word true is not a comparison. It is an absolute. Either something is true or it is not. Yet some observations evoke a deeper response to the truth they express than others do. Anyone who looks at the culture with his eyes open sees this problem.

Erickson’s statement comes from an article in which he describes how his neighbor Pete changed from a friend to a serious enemy because of the politics of the past few years. I have had the same experience. My friend of twenty years and I cannot discuss politics, but that is her choice, not mine. We used to discuss politics, even though we did not agree, but after the election of Barack Obama, everything changed.

I recognized that Obama was a socialist, if not a rock solid Marxist, in early 2008. At that time, my friend and I were writing back and forth (we no longer live near each other) with occasional comments on the various candidates for president. She mentioned reading one of Obama’s books. I mentioned hearing one of his speeches. We had been discussing all the candidates, so I pointed out that he had eliminated himself from contention for my vote in this speech. I said that I could not vote for him, because he was a complete socialist. My friend wrote back, “Where do you get this ‘socialist’ idea?” (That question indicates another problem, but that is for a different post.) After the election, when she found out that I was a Tea Party supporter, she said that we had to quit discussing politics because of the “venom” of the Tea Party. On a few occasions, her Facebook updates have made it clear that she believes any Tea Party supporter is deranged, so it is undoubtedly good that we don’t discuss politics, but it is sad that we can’t.

The most revealing moment was the time she said, “I just ask what Jesus would do, and Barack Obama does what Jesus would do. That is how I decide.” Her act of folding her politics into her religion has warped both her politics and her religion, but she believed at the time that she had seen light. Interestingly, after she took that step, she began to pull away from her faith, and now she claims not to believe in God or Jesus any longer. Her politics is the only religion she has left.

I’m not sure how it all works, but I observe that it is so. When people confuse politics and religion, religion loses. Why? Because politics is about power you can see. When the government threatens people with arrest and re-education, the power is palpable.

Some say that Tea Party supporters confuse politics and religion. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I am a Tea Party supporter, and I don’t confuse politics and religion. My faith in Christ is the root of my personal value system, and my personal values determine which political ideas I will endorse, but I don’t put my faith in politics or politicians. I hope only in God. My personal values lead me to select a political course that produces small government, low taxes, personal liberty and free enterprise. I don’t claim that the party that endorses these values speaks for God; I do claim that knowing God leads me to endorse these values. I am never surprised, but I am saddened, when candidates who claim to endorse these values betray them after election, because I did not confuse the politics or the politicians with God himself.

Erick Erickson reminds us that secular thinkers do not trust God. They do not believe he exists. Yet they, like Christians, want someone or something to support peace and good order in the world. For lack of any other choice, they put their faith in government. They will discover that it is like the psalmist’s experience when he said, “Those of low estate are but a breath; those of high estate are a delusion; in the balances they go up; they are together lighter than a breath.” (Psalm 62:9 ESV) No government is God. No government is like God. The best thing government can do is to obey God’s purpose for government by keeping good order in the society and protecting the freedom of citizens. Politics is not a good religion, and government is not a good god.

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4 thoughts on “Politics and Religion”

  1. Just a quick thought, what if all the campaign money was throttled and redirected into helping all the poor, widows and orphans that the church has tried to take care of – think what an extra Billion or so would do and for the rest of us television would be more enjoyable with less stupid attack ads! Just thinking out loud… Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s.

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    1. All that money could conceivably help a lot of people. However, if government administers it, history teaches us that the result will be no reduction in the problem of poverty. The US government has thrown many times that amount of money into the budgets of programs intended to end poverty, yet there is no end to poverty. The culture has not improved, either, because the government incites heightened awareness of all our divisive attitudes instead of leading people to ignore the differences and love one another.
      We can trust that Jesus knew what he was talking about when he said that there would always be poor people. That statement describes the real consequence of living in our world of wheat and tares. There is always evil afoot, and evil feeds on the misery of people. Only God’s power, active in the actions of people indwelt by the Holy Spirit provides any relief. God’s truth, spoken by the mouth of Jesus, tells us that Christians will never see a day when they have no further need to help the poor. We might as well accept that we will always need to do that. If we want to see the poor blessed by the help they receive, we should be sure to do it ourselves, rather than foist off responsibility on government, because government “help” only demeans people. The love of Christ, active in the work of his followers, lifts people up. We don’t need more government programs. We need more Christians who are willing to do what Christ asks of us.

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  2. Someone asked me why the Jewish people vote Democrat. I said it was because they have replaced their religious faith with faith in the Democrat party platform. I wrote a blog about the 2 party platforms and sent it to a fellow believer who had always voted Democrat. He said that now he votes Republican sometimes and could not defend the democrat party platform. This is a faith stretching time for those who believe what the Bible says. Those who “feel” what Jesus would do, rather than reading what the Bible says, have been deceived. I pray God will open their eyes before it is too late.Their blood is not on my hands because I told them the truth.

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    1. You make a good point about Jewish voters. It is important to remember that Jews mostly consider themselves genetically Jewish, not religiously Jewish. If someone can prove descent from one of Jacob’s sons, that is Jewish enough. Twenty or thirty years ago a community in China with some strange customs and unique words in daily speech was demonstrated to be descended from Manasseh. They hardly knew what Judaism is, but all of them were authorized by the appropriate body in Israel to be Jewish.
      You and I are schooled in the notion that the faith is what counts in the descendants of Abraham, but to contemporary Jews, it is all about biology.

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