Here is an article on MSNBC.
I am opposed to congregations getting involved with politics on any level and indeed, people who use the name of Christ to get involved as well. What worries me is that the Constitution provides for a clear separation of Church and State, and while people bemoan and wail if the State was to encroach on the Church, they seem willing to allow the Church to encroach on the State.
In the past 2 elections, the Republicans have co-opted the ‘religious right’ while demonizing the ‘religious left’. Suddenly, the volcano of evangelical political power that had been building since the last 70′s, ebbing in the Reagan years, and again coming to the national scene with the election of the Clinton-Gore ticket, erupted when the evangelicals played an important part, even providing the deciding factor, in a presidential race. It was built with Dobson, Falwell, Robertson, and Kennedy, among others, writing books, building colleges, networks of media outlets, and disciples that promoted all things right-wing. The evangelical agenda explored to new heights, believe it or not, when congregations of various denominations all participated in the 40 Days of Purpose Driven Life programs. Suddenly, denominations were united on a different level and it was proved that pastors would yield their pulpits to an outside voice if that voice was backed by a furor from the public.
In 2004, in the midst of the campaign, I was taking a political science class at a university. The professor, a strong liberal, taught a class of 90% liberal democrats. Then there was the lone Republican and me. No one believed that the Evangelicals could vote for the Republicans again, because of the war, but when I begin to put it in terms of American support for Israel, it became clear that many evangelicals would vote for Bush because they saw the Iraqi war in eschatological terms. (Think LeHaye’s awful series, Left Behind).
Now, we see a mad rush by both candidates to reach out to Evangelicals, the religious center to right. The problem that I see, is that congregations, and the Church, should not be involved in politics. Paul told Timothy not to be entangled in the affairs of this world, and yet we see so many trying to sway politics. Can you really imagine Paul waging a campaign for a Roman Senator? Our mission on this planet is not to change the planet, or to pass laws, govern nations, or to enforce the morality of Christianity on the populace. Instead, we are told to reach the people, speak the truth, preach the word. We are to be soul winners, not political campaigners.
And may God have mercy on those that use the pulpit to campaign for any particular political party. Is it not the same as using the name of God to murder people? (Crusades, Iraqi War) How many things have been done in the name of God and Christ? For centuries, Rome maintained a nominal control over western Europe, while the great Seljuq Dynasty maintained control over a good deal fo the Middle East, reaching into Asia. Both seats of power ruled in the name of their God and both forced people to do things for religious reasons. Why? Because some thought it best to use the things that should be reserved for God for the things of this world.
I am not suggesting that either Senators McCain or Obama will attempt to ignite a new theocracy, but the picture is still startling. Why must you court the religious right? (Or religious left for that matter) Why should a presidential candidate court the pro-Israel lobby? Remember the young shepherd boy, David. who was tending sheep while the great king was in trouble with the Lord. Or even the twelve year old Jesus, who was about His Father’s business while the Jews planned a rebellion. His Father’s business, as we know, was to preach repentance.
We need to be about our Father’s business, if indeed God is our Father. If you live in the United States, then vote the issues that matter to you. Search the issues in the bible and see where it ranks with God. Abortion? Justice? Environment? War? Defense? So many issues that matter to Americans, but do what matters to God? Don’t confuse the two. (And don’t confuse this country with some divinely establish nation that is the sole greatest country on earth).
Take this also into account. In 2000 and 2004 the Evangelical leaders said some awful things about God (God is pro-war, Falwell) and drug His name into the basest mud. They drug Him out and had Him endorse George W. Bush as a Christian candidate. They made it the eleventh commandment to vote Republican. All on the promise that George Bush would end abortion. Yet, nothing.
Remember, Christ said to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and God what is God’s and politics is too unholy to be from God.
I would ask the candidates to stop these silly appeals to envangelicals and instead focus on real issues. Leave the things of God up to God, and God alone.