Friday, September 7, 2012

God and Political Platforms

I heard that the Democratic Party took God out of their platform for 2012.

I had some misgivings about that.

Then, I heard that this week they put God back into their platform.

I had some misgivings about that too.

When I first heard that the Democrats had taken God out of their platform, I had misgivings because there are so many people who already think that Republicans are the party of God and Democrats are the party of the opposite of that.  And I know that there are plenty of Christians on the left, and that there are also plenty of non-believers on the right.  From a Public Relations standpoint, it seemed like a train wreck.

All public relations aside though, I have misgivings about the concept of God being in political platforms, and not from a separation-of-church-and-state standpoint so much as from a theological standpoint.

It's not that I think that God has no place in politics.  In fact, if you have a faith, you can't help but express your faith in every area of your life, including how you live in the public arena, including who you vote for, what causes you support, what kind of community you want to live in.  So when people use "separation of church and state" to mean that people of faith should not let their faith influence their public life, I think that is pretty much impossible.  If you are an elected official and you are a person of integrity, your faith and values will influence how you do your job.

I also don't think that Jesus is "above" politics, and doesn't care how we live our lives.  It's true, "his kingdom is not of this world," but it also abundantly clear that Jesus cares about how we treat our neighbor, our enemy, the poor and the weak among us.  Those issues are not apolitical.   The hope that we have for God's reign of love has an impact on how we live every aspect of our lives right now.

But when we talk about God in the context of a political platform, suddenly, instead of listening to God and letting God guide us, we are using God as a rubber stamp for whatever our own political agenda might be.  The question then is:  Who is in charge here?  Are we instruments of God's peace?  Or are we trying to make God an instrument of our own desires?

God will not be co-opted.

(this is a draft and may be changed or deleted....)

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