Christianity and Politics: a Paradox

by David O'Neil

After asking many people about the optics of Christianity in the workplace and world for a Bible project, I got a common answer: “Instead of broadcasting that I am a Christian, I try to be a good man and try to show that I’m different from my actions.” And when I asked why this was, K.C. Simmons, a local enterprise account executive, answered that it could get messy in the workplace, and anywhere to be frank, if you let your faith be known. This is especially true when bringing politics into the conversation, because it could get awkward, uncomfortable, and is such a place of hurt and darkness in our society--so naturally that is exactly what Christians should be doing. Paul says that we should “Let light shine out of darkness”, and if Christians are too scared to bring light into this abyss of darkness, then who will? This is why more Christians should go into politics and positions of civil service.

For the past thousand years, Christianity has been an epicenter for morality in various cultures--particularly in the Western world. It started in Israel, and spread from Ephesus to Colchester, creating a Christendom larger than any other country in Europe today. Even in all the heresies and twisting of the Lord’s words that went on in that kingdom, it still promoted some sense of decency and basic morality. These morals were very commonly revered--live a life of honesty, treat others justly and with dignity, and value life over all other worldly things. Alexander Stummvoll wrote in 2009 that after the slow decline of the Christendom occurred, starting in the early 1500s, Catholicism was still very prevalent in Italy, Spain and France, as well as Protestantism in Germany, Switzerland, and England. This was also true in America, as many of the first English settlers came to flee persecution by the Catholics, and the influence of these events are quite obvious--as seen in writings like John Winthrop’s City on a Hill, which depicts what today we would call a white savior train of thought.

However, that influence that Christianity held for a long time has been tainted in recent years as Christianity is beginning to be viewed as a group of old fashioned and stingy bigots, which has led to the prevention of many Christians joining politics and civil discourse. In “White Christian Bigotry,” published in August 2020, James Haught states that “Racism is much stronger among America’s white Christians than among churchless whites — and it always has been.” The reason that Christians are putting up with racism within their own faith is because we are more apathetic and careless than we used to be. When they(we) see evil, it’s so much more comfortable to just judge them and take the moral high ground then to make actual change. Some of these concerns may be genuine as well as Christians are quite frequently rebuked or seen as separate. However, our calling is not to avoid difficult civil discourse. Our calling is to go into darkness and share the light, or (if one doesn’t want to speak in metaphors and allegories) to promote a moral way of life in a society where morality is being blurred, and increasingly becoming subject to a subjective way of life.

It’s important for Christians to join politics and civil service because Christianity has always been an epicenter for morality--even though  Christians struggle with sin just as much as everyone else. However, the difference between Christians and “everyone else” is that Christians acknowledge their sin, and are supposed to do their damndest to make the world a better place. There are many ways to do this and to make such a change from apathy to action, but the best is to make the change within the most influential nation in the world’s government here in the USA. Many people think that this is a nonstarter since America is a nation not dedicated to Christianity or any other religion, but didn’t God put Joseph in Egypt, and have him be able to provide and bless the whole known world with that power? Meaning there’s no reason he wouldn’t be able to do the same today. There are even many examples of this, like the Fellowship Foundation; this foundation is dedicated to supporting America’s congress through prayer and praise, and they also are involved in many charities and organizations that distribute meals for the less than fortunate in the greater D.C. area. There are also examples of organizations that have chosen not to work to reform the government from within such as Black Lives Matter, which many Christians are a part of--making a huge blow to the staying power it could have had. The point being, Christians should be involved with politics because it gives an immense opportunity to do some real good, and change the world for the better. 

Christians getting more involved in politics and civil discourse doesn’t necessarily have to mean creating a new political party or even posting black squares or politically correct sound bites. What this means is having an undying faith to your faith, and putting your faith over the political party you are affiliated with. Now--this has been said as if it’s obvious and easy, but unsurprisingly it is one of the hardest things one can do in this society as many Christians view their political affiliations as part of their core beliefs. To be Christian is to be Democrat. To be Christian is to be Republican. This would almost be comical if the Church wasn’t so split over this idea; however in this scenario both parties are wrong. Christians have traditionally and historically opposed abortion (see Psalm 139 about the value of an unborn child’s life), and the party that most supports that most is the GOP--so they’re the most righteous party, right? To rebut this, Christians have traditionally been open and accepting of immigrants (see Leviticus 19), and the party that supports that is the Democratic party--so they’re the most righteous party, right? Christians should find the good in both parties, and act on what's right, rather than compromising our morals for one party in particular.

This is the paradox that Christians face when they go into politics, but this paradox is only unsolvable if Christians continue to view their political views as a core value, and not a product of their core values. Becoming politically active doesn’t just mean running for office or joining Junior State of America or becoming involved in an organization that calls for action based on values and beliefs that Christians have. It also means re-evaluating the way we establish our own political beliefs as Christians. Once Christians put their faith above Party, they can vote on decisions not necessarily with their party, but uncompromisingly, as they should, to their faith. 

Citations

Haught, James A. “COLUMN: White Christian Bigotry.” The Independent Tribune, 13 Aug. 2020, 

independenttribune.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/column-white-christian-bigotry/articl_c41120fc-dcd5-11ea-bb9a-8feca8b4d619.html

 

Stummvoll, A. Alexander. “Christianity in Europe: A Part of or Apart from Culture?” The Christian Science

Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor, 5 Dec. 2009, www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2009/1205/p09s02-coop.html#:~:text=For%20centuries%20Christianity%20has%20been,%2C%20religious%20wars%2C%20and%20imperialism.

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