Thursday, April 9, 2009

Politics and Religion

by OneVike

Most people people would agree that politics and religion are the two most likely topics that could divide even the best of friends. Webster’s dictionary says that politics is the political opinions or sympathies of a person, while it says that religion is a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.  Personally, accept for what is being expounded upon, I see absolutely no difference between the two.  Many would even consider ones political belief to be a religious belief.  

After all, have you ever watched the way Al Gore espouses his views on politics or global warming?  Now, as a rule I do not like watching Al Gore speak, but when I do see him speaking, I am reminded of an old friend of mine who pastors a church in Columbus Georgia.  Whenever Brother Larry expounds upon the Scriptures and shares his opinion of their meaning, he will flail his arms all around in gestures that are sometimes comical.  Depending upon your political or religious preference, you could easily get lost listening to either of these two men share their deep-seated, fervent beliefs in such an animated way.

Well, during the last election we all watched with anticipation as our chosen candidate addressed the issues. Like a congregation sitting in the pews of a church, the crowds longed to hear something that would touch that part of their soul that yearned for truth. These yearnings differ from crowd to crowd depending upon the candidate on the stage. In a similar way every church crowd is a bit different in the things they want to hear. An interesting dichotomy about the makeup of these crowds is the way their loyalties can change once the discussion goes from religion to politics or from politics to religion. Nothing will put a damper on a good conversation quicker than bringing up one of these topics in the wrong venue.

I remember the day I attended a rally supporting the troops shortly after the Americans entered Baghdad. I was standing next to a rather large fellow who held up his sign and waved his flag with pride. We had a grand old time talking about our common political views. Then I asked him what church he went to and soon we found ourselves disagreeing on almost every facet of religion. We did not talk much after that although we were cordial to each other. Then there was the time I had a long discussion with a gentleman at my church who agreed with me on almost every topic raised onthe Scriptures. However, the moment our conversation moved to politics all similarity between our thinking changed. We could not find common ground on anything political. To this day the guy will nod my way when he sees me but we never again have had such a long conversation.

Experiences like these and others have led us to make up little unspoken rules of etiquette. The number one rule is usually no politics and no religion at parties and gatherings. Actually, that is the only rule that matters. So when we get in political groups we are told no talking religion, and when we get around religious groups we are told no talking politics. For most people that seems to work just fine, and so everyone in their groups are happy and content. At least that's what they think. Inevitably there are always going to be the few who refuse to conform to the rules. They find it difficult to separate their faith in God from their political beliefs, just as the founding Fathers of this country could not. It was in large part their religious beliefs that led them to fight for freedom from King George.

To tell a person to leave their religious beliefs at the door with the hat rack is not only an insult to their intelligence but also an affront to their freedom of expression. I for one always have, and always will, base my political opinion on what I believe religiously. Like the founding Fathers I cannot separate the two. Even if I never mention religion in an article I write, my religious belief will always factor into my opinion pieces. I believe people are deceiving themselves if they think they can remove their religious beliefs from their opinions on politics. For those of who say they have no religious beliefs, I would advise them to step back and look at the things which are important to them. They will find that where their heart is so to is their faith, and it is that faith that ultimately guides their beliefs.

Finally, if anyone should take umbrage with my using the name of God or Christ to drive home a point in political discussions, I say take it up with the founding Fathers. They used God's name in the Preamble of the Constitution, and throughout the Federalist Papers. You will find no greater political document that states a faith in God than the Constitution of the United States of America. If the Constitution can be both a political document and a document of faith in God, then how pray tell, could I do any less than to take God into consideration when I make a political point?

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