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Sunday, September 21, 2014

God's Political Party

When I lived in the Midwest I had an aesthetician who frequently baited me into political discussions. Over the course of our professional relationship she learned that I was a Christian so she automatically assumed that I must, of course, be a Republican. One day she brought up the environment or abortion or some such controversial topic and thought that I would approve of her opinions. Naturally, I could not. I am a card carrying Democrat to the core and I do not pretend to be bipartisan. However, our interactions made me think, why is it that we associate one particular party with Christianity? In fact, why do we assume that God has (or even needs) a political party?

When we examine the parties we see that the Republican Party more closely aligns itself with Evangelical Christianity, which is not a problem, unless you happen to believe in separation of church and state (which I do).  In fact, overall the Republican Party is a pretty homogeneous group, made almost entirely of whites, males, rural dwellers, older people, people with higher incomes, and less formally educated people. In fact, minorities in general are extremely unlikely to associate themselves with the conservative party.

The Democrat Party on the other hand is made up of every one else! Blacks, Whites, Mexicans, Asians, educated people, lower income people, Christians, Atheists, Jews, gays--a much more diverse group of people. So it is faulty thinking to assume that "Christian" automatically equals Republican. My faith informs my vote just as a conservative's faith informs his. My faith is no less authentic, no less meaningful. My belief that God created the world, for example, informs my belief that we should take care of the planet we live on. My belief in equality (see Galations 3:28), colors my views on social justice for all people, regardless of gender, race, social economic status, or sexual orientation. (Recall that Christ's message is for everyone Rev. 14: 6. and that Christ himself ministered to the very poor, the tax collectors, women with bad reputations etc.) These views, which I believe are biblically supported, lead me to desire health care reform, make me less inclined to support the death penalty, and make me long for a government that promotes the betterment of its citizens in whatever ways it can. Lastly, my biblically-based belief in the freedom of choice ( recall "choose ye this day who you will serve") discourages me from foisting my religious views on other people, so I wholeheartedly defend separation of church and state.

 The issue I have with my conservative friends is that they often view their party as THE Christian party! Subsequently, their party is most likely associated with "values", to the point where we hear phrases like "the religious right". But remember from history that white slave owners were also religious. In fact they were so religious that they used the Bible to justify the abominable institution of slavery! Just because a party or group is affiliated with Christianity, does not mean that said party is Christian or that the so-called "values" espoused are in keeping with God's word. Some people act as if God himself ordained the Republican Party; as if to distance oneself from conservative ideology is tantamount to apostasy!

So does that mean that God, by default, endorses the Democrat Party?

To be honest, I do not believe that God has a political party! I can point to instances in both parties where I know He would be displeased. I can list examples of several politicians from both camps who have openly violated at least one of the 10 commandments. And though I argue passionately about my beliefs, I realize that my political party is far from ideal and the the present administration didn't exactly usher in a new Utopian America.

Daniel 2:21 describes God as having the power to remove kings and set up kings. This verse means that God has the ultimate authority. He is more powerful than any political entity we have down here. In the same chapter the prophet writes that God's kingdom obliterates the kingdoms of this world and only his kingdom is forever. That's not to say that God is indifferent to our sociopolitical plight down here, but it does mean that His authority is bigger and wider and certainly more permanent than anything we dream up in this world.

Of course I have my opinions about which political party more closely mirrors the principles of the Bible, but that's a whole other can of worms. For now, I would like people to stop using God as some kind of political chess piece and to disabuse themselves of the idea that God loves/supports/endorses one political group over the other. After all, Christianity existed long before the Republican Party and it will continue to exist long after it.

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