Growing up, I was always taught there were two subjects to avoid if you didn’t want to take part in heated arguments — politics and religion. I have grown to agree with these statements because they, collectively, are two of the worst institutions foisted upon mankind.
I have decried religion extensively on my blog; today I’m going to touch the other side of the “third-rail.”
We are in the throes of yet another American presidential election cycle. And, as has been the case in American presidential election cycles of late, it has brought out the worst in Americans. Hatred, bigotry, class envy, and economic strife are oozing from the American fabric. One party is accused of being socialist and anti-American; the other is accused of being facist and anti-poor.
What is amazing is how adherents to both conservative and liberal ideologies attack one another along the lines of faith. To be one or the other, in the eyes of the opposition, is to be anti-Christ.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I know some wonderful, God-loving, Grace and Love believing conservatives. Likewise, I know some God-loving, Grace and Love believing liberals. Neither American party nor its ideologies have a monopoly on Christian principles.
I believe the root of the political problem is — wait for it…
Whether it be differing faiths and our ability to peacefully coexist or warring factions within a particular faith, religion circumscribes people into social silos. The populations of these silos believe they have a monopoly on truth — or that they are at least part of a truth oligopoly.
Muslims desire imposition of Sharia Law. Christians demand a return to the Ten Commandments. Liberals want to exorcise the influence of religion from public matters. Conservatives long for a Christian theocracy. All miss the intent of the founders of this nation — which was freedom of religion and freedom from religion. This was intended to be a Constitutional Republic that would protect and defend the rights of all its citizens, irrespective of beliefs.
Now, before I’m demanded to be drawn-and-quartered, let me say that I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus’ statement in John 14:6 clearly sets faith in Christ apart from any religion. I believe that Jesus is the only way. However, God doesn’t force His will on anyone and neither should we. While this is, indeed, a nation founded upon principles drawn from Christianity, it is not — nor has it ever been — a Christian nation.
That said, while I believe both ideologies have both good and bad points, I believe that both want to see our nation improve. I believe that we must continue to stand upon the principle of equality and justice. I believe we must continue to provide equal opportunity but we have no responsibility to assure equal outcomes. I believe that while a rising tide lifts all boats, we must have life preservers for those who have no boats. Lastly, I believe that we should stand on the overarching principle of civility — a civility based on the core Christian principle of Love (John 13:34-35).
In other words, at the end of the day, let’s just be nice to one another. Regardless of what we believe or the beliefs of others.
There are two things I want to clearly state, here. First, if you’re a pastor or Christian leader, you are free to support and campaign for whomever and whatever you will. However, the pulpit is not the springboard for your political biases. The pulpit is the place from which the Gospel — and the Gospel, alone, should be preached. You may disagree but neither Jesus nor Paul campaigned against Rome — they stuck to the Gospel.
The second is that this upcoming presidential campaign has the potential to be very nasty. I implore you, dear reader, to rise above the fray. If you’re a conservative, do not accuse your liberal neighbor of being a communist or anti-American. If you’re a liberal, do not accuse your conservative neighbor of being a racist or a facist. We, as a nation, have never been on the same ideological page but we have all stood together as Americans.
You are free to shill for whomever and whatever you wish. You are also free to ignore what you disagree with. All are free to disagree and to have dialogue. No one, however, is free to destroy the fabric of this nation. And, contrary to popular belief, that fabric is not a homogenous woven bolt but a colorful patchwork quilt.
In the words of St. Augustine, “In essentials, unity; in doubtful matters, liberty; in all things, charity.”
In case you’re wondering, that means LOVE!
© 2016 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)