Does Religion belong in Politics?

I blogged about this general concept before (read here).  Mark Tranvik, friend of mine from long ago and a very sharp thinker, had a great piece printed on the featured page (that’s the righthand page for us STrib readers) in the op-ed section of today’s (1.7.2008) Minneapolis StarTribune. Read the article here.

Mark says good things that help clear up this messy intersection. I agree with him that, of course, we have to bring our faith into our politics. Why? Because our faith (Christian, but I bet every faith would agree on this) calls us to love our neighbors and care about creation. That is more than personal piety, it pulls us into the political realm whether we want to or not. But  when we take a position on an issue or pick our candidate it is us picking the position or person, with our best judgment and understanding, it isn’t God. We need to acknowledge that. It is fine to say that we arrived at this because of our spiritual convictions, but we cannot pretend we are speaking for God.

The addition I’d make, or stress a little more, is that churches (local or denominational) do not have the job of rallying their forces for a particular stand on an issue or a particular candidate, as if it were a litmus test for being a ‘real Christian.’ Rather churches can say that issues are important, that elections are important, and can (should) provide opportunities to learn more and to be places that conversations can take place.  That way churches help their people live out their faith; deciding for themselves what is the best way to participate in the political process – employing their best faith, intellect and intention.  Let’s trust God’s Spirit to lead this!  As a church we should promote and appreciate people doing what they believe is right, not conforming to the church’s stand, promoting divisiveness and exclusion.  That hearkens back to my last blog

Thanks Mark!

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3 responses to “Does Religion belong in Politics?

  1. Great comment. I think you’ll find my http://churchvstate.org/ of interest, as well.

  2. “we have to bring our faith into our politics. Why? Because our faith (Christian, but I bet every faith would agree on this) calls us to love our neighbors and care about creation.” I completely agree with this phrases in the article thanks for sharing.

  3. Well, religion is already in polotics, unfortunately. No, I don’t believe it belongs in polotics. Not any more than I believe polotics belongs in religion, which is something I am sure you can agree with as I doubt you would call the ten commandments to a vote in your church. No, I would prefer that political leaders make their decisions based on empirical evidence. But if they really want to do their job right, then the vote must go to the majority. If the majority want religion in politics then I guess that is the way it is going to be, but I certainly hope it never comes to that. Religion should stick to telling people what they ought to do and never cross the line into telling people what they have to do. Because anything that tells people what they have to do breeds resentment. So, it would be bad for polotics because we would be getting away from decisions based on empirical evidence and rationalization, and by the resentment it would cause, it would also be bad for religion as it would decrease fellowship. If Jesus’s mission had been to get laws passed, you better believe he would have done it. Instead he lead by example and that is what religion should continue to do.

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