Religions have a place in politicsPublished 9:19am Friday, September 14, 2012
Across the Pastor’s Desk
By Jill Marin, Grace Christian Church
Christians should be involved in politics. The United States was founded on Biblical principles, a nation “under God.” Our founding families took a tremendous toll to afford us the birthing of this great nation. They were involved in politics to the ultimate degree, willing to sacrifice their own “lives, fortune, and sacred honor.” The overwhelming majority of our founding fathers were Christians. In fact, 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence held a seminary type degree.
Pastors and other religious leaders have the right to be involved in politics as well. Their freedom of speech is not precluded by the fact that they hold a ministerial license. Many pastors were involved in the fight for the independence of this nation. The “Black Robed Regiment” was the term the British gave to the brave American clergy, whom the British saw as greatly responsible for American independence.
In addition, separation of church and state is not meant to keep the church silent. It is a term referring to the European Reformation. The government had taken over the church and created an official governmental theology resulting in injustices to those who chose not to conform. In the U.S., it is found nowhere in the constitution, but in Jefferson’s letter to a Baptist organization. In his letter, he assures them the “wall of separation between church and state” would keep the government from interfering with their religious practices. This is still the way it is today in the U.S., although many twist this phrase to say the church has no say in the governmental realm. This is not true.
People of all faiths have the right to freedom of speech and the use of our governmental structure to address issues. They may speak freely. They may run for public office. They may work for campaigns. They may vote according to their values.
Everyone in this country is operating under a value system, whether it be religious nonreligious values. Do not be fooled into silence by others crying intolerance or bigotry. Tolerance is allowing another to have a different viewpoint. It does not mean one must accept that viewpoint as their own and discontinue arguing against it. Bigotry refers to one who hears counter-arguments, but hatefully holds on to their own beliefs. Even the use of this term implies judgment that one’s belief based on their value system is correct compared to another’s belief. Holding one’s belief after considering arguments against it does not constitute bigotry. Christians should not allow these terms to silence them.
Our founding families paid an enormous price for this nation’s independence. And, for years, Christians have been leaders in many ways in this country. That does not mean we should step back and let the country run on autopilot now. I do not believe that is what the birthers of our nation would have wanted. Christians should be involved in public discussion and should use their voting privileges. Remember Paul’s admonition from Ephesians 6:13, ”…and having done all, to stand.”