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.