Lesson 7: A Guide for Christian Politics

Way back in 2004, the high school reading groups wanted to discuss why a number of people in our area were acting as if all Christians had to be members of the Republican Party. This is pretty significant, because most people in our county are Republicans and that includes most of their parents. The kids were not really talking about political affiliation, but rather associating Christianity with any political party. Once again, they were pretty prescient. In 2011 a number of presidential candidates are claiming they have entered the race, because God called them to bring Christian law into our government.

I did not write the following paper that I sent out as a discussion starter. I am pretty sure it was Jim Wallis in “Sojourners”, a magazine written by evangelical Christians who believe in social action built on biblical principles. You can check out how the young people responded on the first comment here. I began the discussion making clear God is not a Republican or a Democrat.

GOD IS NOT A REPUBLICAN

“It is the responsibility of every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about re-electing President Bush.” -Jerry Falwell, The New York Times, July 16, 2004

“I think George Bush is going to win in a walk. I really believe I’m hearing from the Lord it’s going to be like a blowout election in 2004. The Lord has just blessed him…It doesn’t make any difference what he does, good or bad.” – Pat Robinson, AP/Fox News, January 2, 2004

These leaders of the Religious Right mistakenly claim that God has taken a side in this election, and that Christians should only vote for George W. Bush.

We believe that claims of divine appointment for the President, uncritical affirmation of his politics, and assertions that all Christians must vote for his re-election constitute bad theology and dangerous religion.

We believe that sincere Christians and other people of faith can choose to vote for President Bush or Senator Kerry- for reasons deeply rooted in their faith.

We believe all candidates should be examined by measuring their policies against the complete range of Christian ethics and values.

We will measure the candidates by whether they enhance human life, human dignity, and human rights; whether they strengthen family life and protect children, whether they promote racial reconciliation and support gender equality; whether they serve peace and social justice; and whether they advance the common good rather than only individual national, and special interests.

We are not single-issue voters.

           We believe that poverty-caring for the poor and vulnerable- is a religious issue. Do the candidates’ budget and tax policies reward the rich or show compassion for poor families? Do their foreign policies include fair trade and debt cancellation for the poorest countries? (Matthew 25: 35-40, Isaiah 10: 1-2)

We believe that the environment- caring for God’ earth- is a religious issue. Do the candidates’ policies protect the creation or serve corporate interests that damage it? (Genesis 2:15, Psalm 24:1)

We believe that war- and our call to be peacemakers- is a religious issue. Do the candidates’ policies pursue “wars of choice” or respect international law and cooperation in responding to real global threats? (Matthew 5:9)

We believe that truth-telling is a religious issue, Do the candidates tell the truth in justifying war and in other foreign and domestic policies? (John 8: 32)

We believe that human rights- respecting the image of God in each person- is a religious issue. How do the candidates propose to change the attitudes and policies that led to the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners? (Genesis 1: 27)

We believe that our response to terrorism is a religious issue. Do the candidates adopt the dangerous language of righteous empire in the war on terrorism and confuse the roles of God, church, and nation? Do the candidates see evil only in our enemies but never in our own policies? (Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 8: 12-13)

We believe that a consistent ethic of human life is a religious issue. Do the candidates’ positions on abortion, capital punishment, euthanasia, weapons of mss destruction, HIV/AIDS- and other pandemics- and genocide around the world obey the biblical injunction to choose life?  (Deuteronomy 30: 19)

We also admonish both parties and candidates to avoid the exploitation of religion or our congregations for partisan political purposes.

By signing this statement, we call Christians and other people of faith to a more thoughtful involvement in this election, rather than claiming God’s endorsement of any candidate. This is the meaning of responsible Christian citizenship.

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  1. Pastor Fritz Foltz says:

    As I noted, I began the discussion making clear God is not a Democrat or a Republican. In fact, as I remember, I said something about the Bible almost always counseling us to careful of human authorities; because they are usually self serving and too ready to sacrifice some people to keep their power and have their way. The perfect example is the high priest whose rationale for executing Jesus was, “It is better that one person should die than that the whole nation should be destroyed.”

    The young people began claiming we should always keep religion and politics separate. They readily bought what was then society’s position, that religion was a private, personal matter. When I turned them to a discussion of the guidelines in the paper, they were not ready to see Christianity demanding we are to work for the poor through political programs. Some, but not all, offered the usual arguments about self defense demanding a military response to terrorism. They were pretty adamant that abortion, birth control, sexuality were private and not political issues.

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