Politics and Religion

Politics and religion. Two topics we seem to avoid at the dinner table (most of us). Admittedly, I’d certainly fall into the camp of people who avoid politics, but for a different reason than the traditional. The election is tomorrow and honestly, I don’t care who you vote for. You could even make a case for not voting. However, I am highly ambivalent about this particular election’s outcome. Regardless of how the day ends, we still have a deeply broken system. We have a political system that wins votes through spreading hate from a deep-seated sense of fear of the “other”. Therefore, election ads devolve into nothing more than mudslinging and outright lies. All around us, we’re being bombarded by ads that berate the other side and scream in red white and blue to endorse a specific candidate. We are intellectually being bullied into voting, but against this “other”, rather than necessarily for something. In much the same way, we Christians present our religion to those around us; we try to bully our friends to vote against hell and damnation.

Fear mongering. This seems to be a rather prevalent tactic in today’s society. We are all afraid of being wrong, of messing up. It seems that for many Christians, this results in a religion untouchable and unapproachable. We become hawkers of the anti-hell and spew hate on all those who may resist. We become aggressive and unloving. Our “witness” is nothing more than a stark contrast of the grace and mercy that forms the cornerstone of our faith.

Us against them. This election has seen a few touchy “faith issues” take center stage. Abortion and gay marriage were two of the harder hit issues in the rhetoric leading up to the debates. We saw a black and white matter of faith, but there was a deeper story line unfolding. It was two sides fortifying their position against the other. Neither side could take a moderate stance on either issue as we had to create distance with the enemy. We had to define as clearly as possible the “them” in this scenario. Friends, in these two issues, the election became for many of us a battle against the baby killers and the homosexuals. But why?

Running scared. Four years ago, we were promised hope (whether we agreed with Obama or not). He promised exactly what we wanted and needed. Four years later, he’s failed us in many ways. And we have no hope. In much the same way, we entered a relationship with Christ expecting a new golden age filled with happiness and laughter. Christ has failed us. Life is tough, the economy isn’t helping us out much and storms come and wipe away everything we knew. We’re beaten and battered. Jesus, why have You forsaken us?! We’re confused. Angry. We need somewhere to blow off steam.

Mistaken promises. Unlike Obama, Christ never promised to fix our jobs, income, families, etc. No, He promised to fix our hearts. He promised to fix our personal economies. He promised to turn our worlds upside down. Jesus hasn’t failed us at all. In fact, He is making good on each and every promise He made. It is us in our fear and anger who have let Him down. It’s us who are spewing hate and engaging in the petty mudslinging and slapping His name at the tale end of our unsolicited ads. It’s us who have misrepresented our candidate. In His campaign, there is no room for fear and hate. Why? Because there is no room for darkness in the Light.

I’ve just committed a terrible social faux pas and spoken of both politics and religion at the proverbial dinner table. For that, I don’t apologize. They’re not topics to be avoided. Especially, when they’re so tied to who we are as a person and reflect the inner workings of how we think and relate. We are a sickly society and I think these two areas in particular showcase this sad fact. What can we do to change? Where do we go from here talking about politics and religion?