You should not bring up religion or politics at the dinner table or in public! Never mix faith and politics! Are these nothing but folkloric, commonsensical mantras to help us avoid public embarrassment? Or are they proof that faith really has no justifiable bearing on politics?
In the Old Testament there are multiple examples of governing officials, like pharaohs and kings, who were challenged by religious leaders like Moses, God’s prophets and the like. Jesus coached his disciples throughout that faith was more than a private matter. They had to go out in public and bear fruit, make disciples and manifest virtue. They were commissioned to care for the lowliest and needy in society through demonstrable acts of love. Nowhere does the Bible urge believers to stay put.
On the other hand, extremist religious views have recently inspired and sanctioned acts of terrorism as ordained by God. It was Blaise Pascal who wrote that “men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” For many, the recent spate of extremist violence in God’s name proves why personal religious beliefs are best kept private.
Yet as the US presidential election approaches, we are learning more and more about the political views and social policies of the respective candidates. In mid-February the Pope commented on one such stated position, referring to the proponent of it as “not a Christian.” When the candidates address the slice of the voting public popularly referred to as “evangelical Christians,” they invoke the Bible and God freely in their campaign efforts.
But what about you, as a voter? What role, if any, will your faith and personal beliefs play in deciding between the candidates and/or the political party you may vote for? Not sure? Here are two things you can do to understand this topic more:
1. Take a look at these two books on the subject:
The Relevance of Religion: How Faithful People can Change Politics by John Danforth (2015)
Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (2015)
2. Join the discussion at a forum on Faith & Politics on Sunday, March 13 at 12pm. Don’t worry, it won’t be embarrassing!
Location of the Faith & Politics Forum:
Community Congregational Church 200 Hartshorn Drive Short Hills, NJ 07078