Saturday, January 21, 2012

Religion and Politics ... Again

Yeah, yeah! I know that I've said that I would try to avoid posts that are about religion and politics; and yet, here we are with another post that will invoke groans (at the very least) and perhaps a desire to leave some strong comments defending opposing views.

If you have been reading Out of My Hat for very long, you already know that I am a born-again follower of Jesus.
Politically, I have described my self as a moral conservative, fiscal conservative and a social liberal (a definition that fits many of my Democrat friends). I have belonged to three different labor unions and been active in a union for most of my working career. I am still registered as a Republican but haven't supported a Republican candidate for public office since I decided to vote for John Kerry (actually, it was more of a vote against GWB) after President Bush's first disastrous term of office.

I actually got NATCA PAC funds for my Republican Congressman in '94 and attended a fund raiser where then Speaker Gingrich was speaking. (My Congressman was opposed to the privatizing of air traffic services.)

So what is the point of today's rant?

I'm still trying to figure out what kind of people listen to a gathering of Conservative religious leaders that think they have the right to act as judges over the candidates and proclaim their verdict to the followers of their many different Christian denominations, telling them which candidate has received their blessing and should be supported as a candidate for President. Do these so called religious leaders feel that the members of their respective congregations are so mentally dull that they have to be told which candidate to support.  These "religious" leaders make condemning remarks about one candidate's marriage practices but ignore the poor ethics of another that earned him "the most corrupt politician" in '06. They decide that the non-Christian religious practices of one candidate make him unsuitable as President and virtually ignore another candidate that grew up in an Episcopalian home and is now Baptist.

I guess it's okay to bury your head in the sand and give others the right to direct your thoughts and manipulate your actions to fulfill their agendas...but each of these "leaders" has a vote and the ability to choose their own candidates. You can choose your own candidate. You may have to do your own research and draw your own conclusions, but voting is supposed to be a responsibility that takes some work.

To be honest, I was really wondering how they would choose a candidate. The one evangelical left in the race wasn't doing so well; was unlikely to get the nomination and even less likely to beat President Obama in the fall. We all knew that the Mormon wasn't getting their endorsement. Since they have apparently overlooked (or just dismissed) Dr. Paul, that left them to choose between the Catholics. I'm guessing that was tough for a great number of them. The dirty secret that they don't come out and say is that many of them view the Catholics as a cult-ish imitator of a Christian religion and probably place them barely above the Mormons in the hierarchy of religious beliefs and cult-like organizations.

Unfortunately, this is the kind of action that falsely declares one political party as the party of the righteous (or at least the party of the self-righteous) and labels everybody else as sinful pagans, hypocritical Christians, false teachers, baby killers and generally on-the-way-to hell anti-American scum of the Earth.

And I wonder...what happens if their candidate doesn't get the nomination? Do they fall inline and support the lesser choice? Will they decide to support a conservative Mormon over a liberal Christian? (I know that they deny that President Obama is a Christian even though he says that he is a Christian and chooses to follow Jesus. I guess when you declare yourselves as Judge, you get to make those determinations for others.)

Personally, I think that they should stick to proclaiming the Gospel and living the Christ-like life. I struggle enough own my own that I would be very hesitant to ask somebody to follow me for fear that I might unintentionally lead them astray. It would be grand if the day would come that I felt confident saying, "Follow me. I'm following Jesus all the way!" For now, I stumble enough that I welcome a fellow traveler so that we can keep each other accountable and help each other along the way.

I really believe that if Jesus were given the choice of endorsing a candidate or sharing the message of the Father's love, He would always choose to tell of His Father's love. While we place a great deal importance on the matters of this world and its government, I believe that Jesus would focus his time on reaching one lost soul after another. I can't think of a time when Jesus gave an endorsement of an individual that we should follow and don't think that he would do so now.

While finishing up this post, I ran across this article. It echos much of what I feel.

For the coming weeks, I'm going to restrict my political conversations and make more of an effort to ask about matters of faith. Rather than talking about religion and politics, I'll choose to talk about religion instead of politics.

Does anybody want to join me?

John <><


Bilbo said...

Religion and politics is a terrible mixture. If you want to see what happens when the two are too tightly intertwined, just look at garden spots like Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan. Every politician should have a moral compass, but no one should be in a position to insist that their specific compass be a required part of everyone's personal survival kit. If I wanted that, I'd move someplace where a bearded ascetic with a turban wound too tight dictated my every thought and action. You can handle the religion, John ... I'll handle the politics.

Mike said...

I was going to say exactly what Bilbo said but he beat me to it.

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