Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Religion And Politics

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You can't watch political news without hearing a debate about what role religion, particularly Christianity, should play, if any, in influencing politics and shaping the American culture.

Watching the returns from "Super Tuesday" last night was no exception.

Should Christianity influence politics and in doing so shape the culture?

There are those, of course, that hold you should never talk about politics or religion in polite company. There are also those who strongly advocate it is not the calling of Christians nor the Christian church to become "involved in politics".

Alan Caruba has written a very insightful column on this subject as it relates to the 2012 elections. I strongly recommend you read it.

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Religion and the 2012 Elections

The one thing that Presidents from Washington through to modern times have held in common was the belief that religion was a central component of the life of the republic.

Calvin Coolidge, President from 1923 to 1929, said “Our government rests upon religion. It is from that source that we derive our reverence for truth and justice, for equality and liberality, and for the rights of mankind. Unless the people believe in these principles they cannot believe in our government.

There are only two main theories of government in our world. One rests on righteousness and the other on force. One appeals to reason, and the other appeals to the sword. One is exemplified in the republic; the other is represented by despotism.”

Ronald Reagan echoed this view saying, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.”

For Barack Obama, Sundays have often been devoted to playing golf. A self-declared Christian, there are widespread concerns that he was and is a Muslim, given his childhood as the adopted son of an Indonesian Muslim, his mother’s second husband. In the 2008 campaign, he managed to overcome the fact that his spiritual mentor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, led a Chicago church with a doctrine of Black Liberation theology that was frequently highly critical of America.

When John F. Kennedy ran for office, the question was whether his being Catholic would play a role in whether he could be elected. He put that question to rest. Obama had to sever his ties with Rev. Wright in order to seek and win election.

As Mitt Romney closes in on the Republican nomination some liberals are already sniping at his Mormon faith. while Rick Santorum’s emphasis on the strictures of his faith has played an unknown factor in his fluctuating fortunes.

The Gallup organization began systematically tracking religion in 1948, asking Americans to name the major religion with which they personally identified. Back then, two percent (2%) of Americans volunteered “no religion” and another three percent (3%) had an otherwise unidentified religious identity. By the 1970s, the number of Americans with no formal religious identity began to increase, reaching eleven percent (11%) by 1990.

By 2010, sixteen percent (16%) said they had no religious identity or had an otherwise undesignated response. A Gallup analysis noted that “Lack of identification with a formal religious group does not necessarily mean religion is irrelevant in a broad sense in a person’s life. One can remain quite religious, or at least spiritual, while at the same time eschewing attachment to or identity with a formal religion or denomination.”

The Gallup polling demonstrates that eighty-four percent (84%) of Americans, a huge majority, do identify themselves as affiliated in some fashion, formal or not, with a faith of choice.

Drawing on two surveys, the General Social Survey and the National Congressional Study, Mark Chavez, a professor of sociology, religion, and divinity at Duke University, author of “American Religion: Contemporary Trends”, concluded that traditional belief and practice is relatively stable, but that confidence in religious institutions has declined more than confidence in secular ones.

In a March 3rd, Wall Street Journal commentary, Peggy Noonan wrote, “The other day in a seminar at a university, a student of political science asked a sort of complicated question that seemed to be about the predictability of human response to a given set of political stimuli. I answered that if you view people as souls, believe that we have souls within us, that they are us, then nothing political is fully predictable, because you never know what a soul will do, how a soul will respond, what truth it will apprehend and react to.”

The current firestorm over the Obamacare mandate that contravenes personal conscience, a pillar of all religions, has ignited a debate over the separation of church and state. The Constitution specifically forbids “the establishment” of a state religion and, by extenstion, forbids the federal government from coming between an individual’s spiritual beliefs and its demands.

Coolidge also said “We do not need more intellectual power; we need more moral power. We do not need more knowledge; we need more character. We do not need more government; we need more culture. We do not need more law; we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen; we need more of the things that are unseen.”

Religion is hardwired into humans. From the Stone Age onward, we have created religions as a means to cope with an often dangerous and indifferent world, and to peer into what Shakespeare called “The undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.”

Consciously or not, three years into President Obama’s term, millions of Americans are reexamining their religious beliefs and I suspect this will play an important role in the outcome of the 2012 elections.

Americans may have grown more secular in their general outlook, but there is still that inner voice, their relationship with the faith into which they were born or they embraced—their soul—and the historic distrust of big government that will shape the outcome of the election.

The Founding Fathers believed that only men of “virtue” could lead America and only citizens who practiced virtue in their lives could preserve and protect the republic. They were right.


  1. Gary again demonstrates that he has back-slidden to becoming a simple religious humanist rather than a Biblical based disciple of Jesus Christ. No words from scriptures - just references to men and their ideas including providing a silly religious humanist editorial. What despite to the precious name of Jesus!!

    Scripture is, of course, clear - the genuine disciples of Jesus are NOT to make Jesus king (which is exactly what religious humanists want to do), are NOT to judge those without (ICor5:12,13), know that they are citizens of a a heavenly land (Phil3:20), etc., etc.

    But religious humanists such as Gary and his ilk love their religious flesh being stirred up with the passions of controversy so all the while crucifying the Messiah they can claim they are doing the will of God. There is nothing new under the sun.

    How far are the might fallen O Jerusalem.

    And Jesus wept.

  2. We as Christians have sat back for the past 4 or 5 decades with the notion that we ought not be involved in politics. Perhaps if we had been involved with various local (school boards, town councils, etc.), state and federal positions and had a 'voice', things wouldn't have gotten to where they are now!!! Shame on us. We've allowed the secular, humanists make all the decisions and laws.

  3. Patrick,

    I think you may have the blinders on a bit, as I think you may have missed the point I believe Gary was intending to make.

    Please go back and read the scripture you have recited and look to the broader insight, as it appears you may have missed some of the points there as well.

    While we are called to not be critical of others, we are called to be discerning. Yes, that is especially true inside the church body, but it certainly doesn't stop at the door. If you try to seclude yourself within the confines of the church body, you are intent on defeating the premise of the great commission, to bring the whole Word to the whole world.

    By living in the world, but not being like the world, the people we are commissioned to reach see the difference and it resonates within them, often by passionate reaction one way or the other depending on the state of the person's heart. The convicted will feel convicted, regardless of whether you verbalize it, because they know in their hearts that their deeds are dark. The world will attempt to justify these pangs of conviction by infusing moral relativism or other forms of denial or rationalizing. But no matter what, a man or woman of Godly virtue stands out. Leaders without virtue only lead others astray (you might find a passage or two on that), a virtuous leader is a beacon light in the darkness and leads the lost to green pastures, that is, those that chose to follow.

    To call this religious humanism is to miss the point, Satan would love to see the church keep to itself, indeed he would revel in it.

    I will agree to the point that Alan Caruba has written the article from a somewhat humanist perspective, to which I do not subscribe, I do, in general, understand and agree with the premise of the point he is attempting to convey to a broad audience. Perhaps the article in itself is not the best written and might have been better quoted in part than in whole, but to denigrate Gary for Alan’s article is a bit much as I certainly perceive what Gary was attempting to convey.

    Thank you, my friend, please keep reading and searching the Word, as each time you read it further insight is revealed. Please understand I am not trying to take you to task, but rather imploring you to attain further insight and perhaps be a bit more judicious before heaping criticism on your brother.

    May God richly bless you,


    1. Thank you Grant well said and with grace.

  4. Judy G45

    Actually the "secular humanists" had little to do with any significant laws - the uber-wealth corporatists, e.g. Kock Bros, via lobbyists have always made the laws - they write them and give them to Congress. They have the money to have influence - you and I don't.

    I think you would find a study of the subject more than fascinating - and terrifying.

    BTW - study Monsanto some time if you want to find out what is happening to the food - that you put into your body...

    Sadly, Gary never talks about the real issues facing our society - but simply skims the silly glitzy stuff that is really irrelevant to most of our real lives.


  5. I like Persons of virtue in a secular government? Recent experience with caucus (one vote- for Paul from precinct) shows me how out of touch I am. County had 171 straw votes, majority for Ron Paul. The platform was the surprise: eliminate most of state and federal government; including IRS, EPA, Energy, Social Security, welfare, Fish and Game, Education, etc. Cut taxes, eliminate eminent domain, international trade and security treaties, and the UN; allow essentially absolute gun and property rights w/o restriction, provide better immigration control, but eliminate intrusive border patrol officers along our county's north border; and support our military crusades and veterans. Peace through Strength. Balance budgets. Restrict or eliminate unions. Also other conservative social issues: health care, drug testing and more severe criminal punishment, traditional marriage, abortion, family rights, and charity. Individual voluntary moral responsibility.
    Anarchy? Arm and protect ourselves? (Should we use voluntary law enforcement along with our voluntary fire department?) Maybe a recipe for economic slavery? Or maybe I just didn't/don't understand?
    It may generally sound good, but some of the platform bothers me, like absolute right to sell water rights to highest bidder, whoever or where ever (to California?). I consider myself a fundamental Christian, but I must truly be a liberal RINO conservationist.

  6. Grant

    Thanks so much for your kind and judicious response. First, if I have missed any specific point of scriptural text, please be specific. I am very familiar with the text in, as an example, Ph3:20, in which we are emphatically told that our citizenship is heaven - in conjunction with Heb11 in which we are told that we are looking for a City whose builder and maker is GOD (not a human state molded after our religious image). Further, we never see in scripture a call to change the state - rather we are called to bring souls to Christ. In fact, when certain religious zealots sought to adhere a natural kingdom to Jesus - He ran away.... as you well know.

    If I may be so bold as to provide some of the same medicine? Indeed we are called to be discerning - and we keep ourselves from sin in doing so. And we are NOT called to keep to ourselves - rather we are called and certain are commissioned to call people to Jesus Christ!!! We are never called to engage in incendiary, hypocritical and oppressive partisan politics as is Gary and his ilk engage as standard operating procedure. That is NOT the Great Commission! I would much rather see conviction in the evangelical church to repent and come to a knowledge of the Word of God - starting by simply using it rather than Fox's latest talking point. If the basket can be taken off this light - the hope is that the conviction of the world would be sure to follow. But the leadership of the evangelical church are far more interested in the feel good sin of their triumphant flesh filled political whoredoms than in Christ.

    Please show me in the above article a single text of scripture. I think you get my point.

    In the agape of Christ


  7. Participating in our government is *not* trying to set up Christ's kingdom on Earth. Yes, our citizenchip is in heaven. That doesn't mean we aren't "subject to the governments of man", even tyrannical ones. In America, we just happen to be *part* of that government (in fact, the highest part), as "We the People".

    In the Old Testament you can find many instances of godly men in positions of authority and advisement to the king. (Joseph, Daniel, Mordecai, Esther, etc). This was *good*, as it gave them the position to enact God's plan at the proper time, and to protect the opressed. There were times when governments could even be opposed or righteousness motivate a political move (the egyptian midwives lying to pharoah about the Hebrew children, Rahab's hiding the spies, Jehu's deception to the prophets of Baal, Daniel praying three times a day when it was forbidden, etc).

    In the New Testament, did Jesus say that the Sanhedrin Court should step down and that government was no longer important? (The sanhedrin acted as local government as well, it was only larger issues that they had to defer to Rome). Jesus, in point of fact, told the people to listen to the pharisees and do what they said, as they "sat in the seat of Moses". He also said "render on to Ceasar what is Ceasar's, and unto God what is God's". Paul reinforced this with admonishions to submit to the law.

    As we have full freedom in America to influence law by our *votes* and other political processes, we may do so. What we cannot do is use force, threats, bullying, etc, to try to sway others via vengeance. We must submit to the rule of law. Also, anything we do must be in love. Our votes we should base on wisdom and scripture, not the wisdom of man, as our Lord is Christ. And our votes *must* be based on our abiding with Christ, as to do less would be to say that only part of our life is subject to Christ!

    One thing christians also *easily* forget is that it is not our job to judge the sin of unbelievers. It is the church's job to judge the sin of *believers*, and God will judge unbelievers.

    This does not mean that we cannot vote for good and moral laws, but that behavior wise Christians should stop focusing on the individual sins of the world. It's a fruitless task. We do want people to recognize that they are sinners, yes, in need of a savior - but if they merely reformed of a particular sin that was complained of, without recognizing Christ, it would be useless.

    "Inasmuch as all rulers are in fact the servants of the public and appointed for no other purpose than to be “a terror to evil-doers and a praise to them that do well” [c.f., Rom. 13:3], whenever this Divine order is inverted – whenever these rulers abuse their sacred trust by unrighteous attempts to injure, oppress, and enslave those very persons from whom alone, under God, their power is derived – does not humanity, does not reason, does not Scripture, call upon the man, the citizen, the Christian of such a community to “stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ….hath made them free!” [Galatians 5:1] The Apostle enjoins us to “submit to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,” but surely a submission to the unrighteous ordinances of unrighteous men, cannot be “for the Lord’s sake,” for “He loveth righteousness and His countenance beholds the things that are just.”" (Rev. Jacob Duche', writing in support of the American revolution)

  8. Amonite - Interesting choice of names. There is a difference between participating in a wise administration of the government and usurping God's position of judging those without by attempting to oppress and advocate violence against them.



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