Why My Faith is Political

“You should stay out of politics and stick to preaching the Gospel.” – Bill, a Christian

Several times a day I’m chided by a well-meaning friend, complete stranger, or soon-to-be-disconnecting social media acquaintance for being “too political” as a Christian and or as a pastor. Curiously, I most frequently I hear these sentiments from Conservative Christians—and I’m never quite sure what “Gospel” they want me to stick to, but it certainly isn’t the one Jesus mentioned:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come – Jesus (Luke 4:18-19)

I’ve long ago learned that this carefully constructed code language can almost always be translated as, “The personal faith convictions which you are expressing publicly are now bumping up against my daily life—and this makes me uncomfortable and I want to make you stop.”

Embedded in the reprimand is the myth that there is somehow a way of being spiritual without also being political; some sharp, easily identifiable, universally accepted line delineating the sacred from the secular, the supernatural from the practical, religious matters from civil ones—and that Church People can and should learn to “stay in their lanes”.

The only problem with such suggestions, is that if you are a committed person of any faith tradition, life is the lane. It’s all spiritual stuff.

For me, this means that my faith isn’t an isolated activity that I engage in between many other non-religious ones. It is the very lens through which I view everything, and it likewise informs every facet of my life: the work I do, the words I write, the causes I support, how I spend my money, how I experience community, the way I vote, how I see and discuss the world. To suggest I separate my spirituality from any area of my life is like asking ask my brain to function independently from my circulatory system. The two are ultimately inextricably linked. Their existence is symbiotic.

Granted, many American Christians have somehow managed to construct something they’ve named Religion which allows such a disconnect. Many practice a strangely compartmentalized faith, one where they divide their time neatly between a spiritual life and the rest of life. This kind of thinking allows many folks to go to church for sixty minutes on the weekend—and to be largely unaffected by Jesus the rest of the week. It also allows them to openly support politicians without a trace of Christ’s benevolence, compassion, or humility. It enables them to claim they emulate the healer Jesus, while taking healthcare from tens of millions of people.

For far too many Christians, being in a building on Sunday and praying, singing, reading the Bible are “spiritual things.” Anything bleeding out beyond the church walls (especially stuff that inhibits their personal comfort or established prejudices) is quickly labeled political and therefore declared off-limits. This isn’t how faith works.

Christians who chastise other believers for being political simply aren’t paying attention to what Jesus taught, did, or called the faithful to do. He wasn’t urging people to withdraw into a cloistered religious bubble existence, and he wasn’t asking them to suppress their beliefs to keep the peace with the culture around them—even the prevailing religious system that claimed to speak for God.

Jesus was equal parts gentle personal pastor and subversive community activist.
He was compassionate shepherd to the sheep in his care, and defiant defender squarely up in the snorting faces of the wolves.
He gave equal time to transforming people’s hearts and to renovating social structures.
If we try to only hold on to one aspect and not the other, we do so at the risk of creating and replicating a counterfeit Jesus.

While he absolutely taught the virtues of one’s personal spirituality, Jesus did so while calling people in community to publicly respond to the injustices in the world. He preached a countercultural Kingdom of Heaven/God which stood in sharp contrast to the Roman Empire, the strongest political force in the world at the time. To be obedient to God and faithful to the teachings of Jesus in this time, by its very nature became a political statement. It had to, because of how differently it called a person to live in the world. Nothing has changed.

Ultimately, are these political matters or spiritual ones:
Eliminating poverty?
Caring for the planet?
Ensuring equality for all people?
Confronting violence and bigotry?
Caring for sick people?
Avoiding war?
Protecting the vulnerable and young in our midst?
Fighting government corruption?

If one is a person of faith these matters have to be both—or that faith is rather neutered and inconsequential.

I fully resist the idea of America as a Theocracy in any form. The dubious moment sixty or so years ago when the Religious Right shacked up with our political system and produced the twisted love child that is the current Republican Party—is one of the most destructive and embarrassing moments in our recent national history and that of the Church as well.

This toxic alliance has given birth to and nurtured the dangerous lies that:
1) God is American.
2) America is Christian.
3) The GOP has the exclusive rights to Jesus—and they get to make sure that the first two rules are both strictly guarded and fiercely enforced.

I am not at all saying any of this. Our nation’s initial decision to officially separate Church and State wisely makes sure that no group of religious people of any kind can enforce their beliefs on our civic system. This is good and right and necessary—but to ask someone to separate their personal beliefs from the world they live in, is impossible. The very idea that a person of my or any faith convictions has a tidy little fenced off area where they “do their religion,” is ludicrous and rather demeaning at its core. 

I would never propose that another human being (religious or not) should ever be required to share my personal faith convictions, or that those convictions should be the law of the land. But I refuse to censor those convictions or to be bullied or shamed into believing that to share them in any number of ways, is somehow bad form for a respectable Christian. It’s Christ’s form—and ultimately that’s who I need to take my cue from.

Whether you identify as Christian or not, my faith does not need to be your faith—but don’t expect that faith to stay only where you believe it is supposed to be to keep you comfortable. You don’t get to decide that. I don’t even get to either.

If you’re a professed Christian and you believe that your faith in Christ can be separated from anything else or that it can ever be politically neutral, I’m going to suggest that your heart has not yet been fully saturated by the Jesus you’re claiming.

When it has been, you’ll find yourself called to more than a political party or even your own country. You’ll realize that your entire life is spiritual and that everything is on the table—and you’ll speak loudly into all of it. 

76 thoughts on “Why My Faith is Political

  1. We say Thank you, and we (my husband and I) wish we had found you earlier or that you had been around many years ago. You speak so well about the things that we believe need to be said. We tried but it always seemed to get drowned out by those on the Religious Right. This gives us hope that if we are listening, others are listening and perhaps, just perhaps some paid attention to my husband when he tried to make sense of it all. Please know that there are those who agree wholeheartedly in what you are saying and are walking the journey with you. Peace and Love,

  2. Once again, all that sermon needs is an Amen!

    I think many forget the message about standing up for Jesus here or Jesus will not know you there…

    • It’s a shame that we fail to acknowledge this, Sandi. ” standing up for Jesus here or Jesus will not know you there…”

      We must remember that we must stand up for Jesus as Jesus is and not what we would like Jesus to be.

      If we are not experiencing discomfort and unease, then we have probably remade Jesus into our own preferences.

  3. I am confused. Are not the “leaders” of the very visible and vocal Evangelical Right considered, by your critics, to be meddling in politics? Just a little? Robertson, Dobson, Falwell, Graham?
    For quite different reasons than you have outlined:
    Eliminating poverty?
    Caring for the planet?
    Ensuring equality for all people?
    Confronting violence and bigotry?
    Caring for sick people?
    Avoiding war?
    Protecting the vulnerable and young in our midst?
    Fighting government corruption?

    Somebody please explain this to me.

    • Two distinctions:

      1) The folks you mention want to impose their religious beliefs on others. They want to legislate Christianity at the detriment of those holding other belief systems.
      2) By taking away healthcare, removing environmental protections, funding to school lunches, to public schools—making any of the above claims is fairly ridiculous. We can hold these things up to the Jesus of the Gospels and remove any logical connection.

      The difference is that one a personal faith conviction and the other is theocracy.

      • I guess, John, that I’d say that the RR’s leaders are not legislating Christianity in my understanding of the term; they’re legislating Fundamentalist Christian Culture under the guise of Christianity. The founding Deists were Christians, too, but believed in the gift of reason as the vehicle by which we were to bring the Compassion of the Creator to full bloom in our world. However, the Establishment Clause didn’t make it in to the original Constitution, but had to be added in the 1st Amendment. Even they had limits to their belief in reason.
        Sigh.

      • As someone who is passionate about the separation of church and state, I would get the same argument or comment. Since my grandfather came from a group who were imprisoned, fined etc by the powers that be at the time I was taught that that was one of the things we needed to guard against. I used to say it was a matter of living your convictions not imposing them. So for all of the people who have gone before who were persecuted because another group wanted to inflict their beliefs on them (that has been the case since the early settlers right thru to today) I say Thank you.

      • I agree. More than that the names I mentioned have built empires on their theology. Bu what I am not understanding is how the masses of people who follow them can be
        1) so blind to the fact that their leaders and what they are doing IS political, and
        2) oblivious to the fact that theocracy replaces democracy, and
        3) so ready to deny the message of Jesus in favor of the RR leaders.
        It is like there is no basis for discussion with these people.

    • Leda Buller. I am not quite certain that I understand your question. So if I am all off-base, please forgive me.

      You asked “Are not the “leaders” of the very visible and vocal Evangelical Right considered, by your critics, to be meddling in politics? Just a little? ”

      I would say these people meddle in politics a very great deal. But they have zero interest in “Eliminating poverty?
      Caring for the planet?
      Ensuring equality for all people?
      Confronting violence and bigotry?
      Caring for sick people?
      Avoiding war?
      Protecting the vulnerable and young in our midst?
      Fighting government corruption?”

      • In fact, I would add to my response to you, Leda, that the people you name have a very specific agenda to push a prosperity gospel upon the USA.

          • Leda, I think there is a very simple answer to your question “What I want somebody to explain is why so many Christians are buying into this agenda?”

            I think they buy into it because it reaffirms their own laziness, prejudices, greediness, selfishness. It also them to enculturate their religion, rather than live the more challenging counter-cultural life to which Jesus calls us.

            It appeals to a fat cat mentality.

            That’s how it seems to me.

          • Part of the reason is fear of those who are different. Ignorance makes us fearful. Part of it is fear of responsibility. It is far easier to express a faith where someone gives you all the answers, tells you what you can and cannot do, identifies sin on your behalf, demonizes those who are different. My analogy is that so many behave more like Jews living under the Law of Moses than Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. Some Christians stay hung up in a Good Friday mentality, constantly wracked with guilt and sin. They never make it to Easter. They never seem to truly understand the joy of living as one redeemed by God.

            • I think you are right about religion being easier if you are told what to do and think and don’t really ask that common-still good question, “What would Jesus do?” and then have the guts to do it. I don’t know how many RR friends you have, but I have many many, and they are followers, indeed. I grew up with them and you don’t question authority. Since they, en masse, support the TV and radio religious personalities, they all move in that direction.
              I don’t know if I could say, individually, they are quite so easily characterized as living with an OT mentality, since they really stress the Cross, the blood of Christ, the personal relationship with God (I don’t hear the name of Jesus being invoked alot anymore, except when praying for something).
              The fact that there actually are so many people with the same mentality (even if you can’t totally define it) does indicate how they can be persuaded by the right people. Perhaps the fear you mention is the opener.

  4. Thank you for your words. I agree! Our views are very parallel–I too believe that your spiritual life IS your life; it (should) permeates every thing you do, it is the basic source for all actions, words and interaction with others.
    As I have mentioned before, I identify as a Tibetan Zen Buddhist after 40 years of various flavors of Christianity, across the denomination spectrum. My reasons for leaving are varied, as with any major life decision but they generally boil down to this: What I perceived as living in Christ and what I practiced according to each church’s version of Christ and the man-made hierarchies and rules were pretty much not in alignment. I couldn’t figure out how to include Jesus in my life every day, not just on Sundays and Wednesday night choir practice. And there was never any minister, pastor or priest who could apparently explain how to achieve it.
    I’d suggest that part of the problem lies within the general insistence upon using words to describe something ineffable, something so far beyond mere mortals as to render our language insufficient to actually describe what it is we believe and practice as a spiritual life. I think that a great deal of our current (and let’s be honest, historical since the day Jesus went back to Heaven) issues with religions, politics, sex (sexual identity and behavior), and all the other Big Topics is that we use our spiritual words as if they themselves ARE the spiritual life and no further effort is required.
    It’s a slightly more refined version of muttering magic spells and having totems, magical symbols and ritualistic words of power. And it has just about the same effect–that is to say, not really, just a small coincidental “miracle” fulfillment that would occur even without the voodoo in the normal order of events.
    I am gently amused by the fact that in trying to communicate with others on this topic–and always, not just religion but the REAL impacts of living a SPIRITUAL life, permeating every aspect of a routine day–that I, as a Buddhist, am doing more witnessing and declaring the love of Christ than I ever did as a Christian.
    (You’ll probably have noticed that I use two very separate, and in my mind very different, words to differentiate between “religion”, which is the man-made hierarchy, dogma and everything else humans have added to what should have been a very simple belief system/spiritual path AND “spiritual”, which is what I believe that Jesus meant–a WAY OF LIFE, not a couple of hours per week, but every moment. It’s a way of life that is focused on living a kind and moral life–and moral because doing the right thing, doing the KIND thing, should be a natural reaction to the sacredness of every living being. And I note here that for me, “every living being” mean literally EVERYTHING around us. Not just people, but animals and fish, rocks and trees, and all the Universe. Caring for others, caring for Nature and the planet, living a life of lovingkindness (all one word like that; it’s frequently used in meditation practice) can be a default mode for us–but it is NOT a religion. It requires no record of attendance at some particular place, within a specific time period. It requires no props–no particular symbols, no fetishes or lucky charms, no warding off of evil with incantations or ritual.
    Religion has done more harm to humankind than the entire list of how we can die. Religion is MORTAL and from humans. Spiritual is from the heart, from the indescribable and unknowable of ALL, the Universe, or if you prefer that specific label, Jesus. Words fail us at the best of times; words are completely useless when trying to talk about spirituality–or the other term I use, belief system.
    Religion is about Sundays, hymns and a sermon. Spirituality is about every moment of every day and how you move through time and space among all other living beings.
    A main concept in Buddhism is the “letting go” of attachments to things. Kids, physical objects are things. BUT so are labels–all of our words are just labels, discrete sounds we use to TRY to communicate with others. That’s part of the reason my comments tend to be long–there’s just not enough word sounds that are sufficiently accurate to describe what is and I repeat, indescribable. It’s like trying to explain color to the blind, or music to the deaf.
    Being spiritual should be as natural and automatic as breathing. It doesn’t need to be thought about to happen, it just is always there in everything you do. When it is, then it will be exhibited in EVERYTHING YOU DO–including politics, social mores, eating dinner, being with friends, and on and on. Anything that affects Life (ours, theirs, and every being) is the concern of the spiritual person. We add our actions to the “plus” side of kindness and care, automatic compassion and grace; we try not to add to the “minus” side of indifference (almost worse than hate), selfishness or lack of compassion. And no matter the subject under discussion, anything and everything is a part of living that spiritual life.
    It is a part of our Sacred duty to all beings to do whatever it takes (including political activism!) to maintain compassion, lovingkindness and plain old but marvelous LOVE as the core principles in living a worthy life. Sometimes that means getting our hands dirty, getting sweaty, doing the hard things because they are the right things. Or as meme I saw says: “Morality versus religion: Morality is doing what is right regardless of what I am told; Religion is doing what I am told, regardless of what is right.”
    Peace and blessings.

    • “Morality versus religion: Morality is doing what is right regardless of what I am told; Religion is doing what I am told, regardless of what is right.”

      Excellent. It’s why I gravitate more and more to the Buddhist way of thinking, because it recognizes that at the core of existence is change, and that our task is to both accept change and make change, for the Truth does not exist outside of ourselves and our relation to others.

  5. My Spirituality is intrinsically integrated with my Creativity. Some people would call my Creativity- my God-Given Talents- but I just think I’ve been doing the work for many lifetimes- and here I am now. Because everything is integrated- my Creativity- and my Spirituality- and my WAY of being in the world politically- and socially- and mentally- emotionally- physically- and even sexually- are also all integrated. Nothing is compartmentalized. And I annoy a lot of people. hahahahaha

    I recommend this evolutionary concept- as it is Heart-Centered. But few will release their old-paradigm belief structure and move into the New…

  6. Pingback: Why My Faith is Political | Knitternun's Blog

  7. Thank you, John, for once again exercising your gift of exhortation with a prophetic voice. I can hear Jesus speaking in your words. I can hear the voices of the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures as they address both the individuals and the king, i.e., the government.

    Every single aspect of our lives is spiritual. The only question is which spirit does a particular aspect of our life reflect? We may choose either way.

    This is why I have two groups on Facebook. One is to encourage people to grow in their faith by exposure to the many aspects and flavors of following Jesus that different faith traditions have developed over the centuries. That group is called Celebrate What Christians Have in Common.

    The second group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, is where I put my faith into action, at least on social media. I believe following Jesus requires us to do every single thing we can to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit the prisoners so they do not despair, providing the poor with what they need to thrive, not merely survive.

    Following Jesus requires that each of us puts our neighbor’s welfare at the same level of priority that we put our own. Followings Jesus requires that we place the welfare of the planet ahead of profits. We are stewards of God’s creation, not its owners. We lease it from God.

  8. Excellent thoughts John, I applaud you for being succentic.
    I do believe the whole issue of “Christian” is an identification that needs to be revised simply because anyone who thinks they can bully another can use the christian moniker to claim anything they desire – I won’t name causes because that starts another heavy conversation.
    What value is there when the greatest name for ‘Love’ is used for hate, fear, shame, bigotry etc, etc?

    • Ellis, I have not been able to identify as a Christian for a number of years. I do not wish to be considered one of “those Christians.”

      I call myself Episcopalian or a follower of Jesus. It will have to do,

  9. “To suggest I separate my spirituality from any area of my life is like asking ask my brain to function independently from my circulatory system. The two are ultimately inextricably linked. Their existence is symbiotic.”

    Ask a deeply Fundamentalist Christian angry and fearful over what they see as happening to the country that they were told has existed since long before their birth and now to them seems on the virge of extinction, and you may – if you don’t get shouted down first – the very reasonable response that “like you, John, I have come to recognize that the spiritual is indeed the political. They are all part of the framework in which we perceive the world and act within it.
    And we see very different worlds. For the past 100 years your framework has held sway, at my world’s expense. The God that justifies so many of the actions of Progressives is not the God that I know. While you came to political action quickly in your faith journey, I did not; I did not have to, because that battle had been fought and won for me and mine long ago. Now, I see that I have been sleeping and must fight. You Progressives have just found out that you have become too complacent and dismissive in the execution of your beliefs. Now you know how we have felt for 70 years.”

    I’m a Progressive. I believe that living your spirituality in your life begins, if you are a Christian, with the understanding that Jesus’ words to us were challenges; aspirations; goals to be striven for. Others calling themselves Christians begin with a set of rules that are interpretations of Christ’s teachings stabilizing a particular social order. But I have no doubt that those that oppose my worldview are just as convinced of their righteousness in their methods.
    An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

  10. John,

    My problem with you including politics with your religion is not that you expect your faith to be my faith, but that you expect your politics to be my politics.

    Joe

      • But what of my assertion? Do you allow for the possibility that a Christian can in good faith come to different political conclusions than you have and vote accordingly? Do you allow for the possibility that a Christian could see the same good ends you desire but a different political path to attain them?

        I agree that my Christianity should influence how I vote but that I should not be forcing my religion by law. I don’t think there should be laws that everyone should be a Catholic or have to go to Mass on Sunday or have to live according to the moral standards of my faith.

        So like you, I see injustice, and the biggest and most obvious injustice I see is that in the US is that we do not value and protect all life beginning at conception. We must care for all, including the least of these, no matter how inconvenient. I also realize that others here will say that in order to accomplish that I must vote Democratic since they want higher taxes and bigger government involvement and or that I must be willing to support programs that involve contraception (which my faith and conscience prohibits me from doing). But the fact is that how to best grow the economy and fairly distribute our resources in order that all may thrive is open for discussion, besides the fact that it’s a disingenuous argument since those who posit it are not in accord with the idea that the unborn have the basic right to protection and life.

        I should not have to accept your politics as if they were an article of faith that the only way a Christian can vote or think is that of a liberal Democrat.

        • Wow Joe, you just keep the hypocrisy record playing… You claim to agree that your Christianity should influence how you vote but even after admitting you voted for Trump because of his promise to end abortion and applauding what you saw as a step to doing that (Gorsuch) “forcing” your religion by law, you now claim that force is not what you want? You don’t think that “there should be laws that everyone should be a Catholic or have to go to Mass on Sunday or have to live according to the moral standards of my faith” but you want laws to make the legal choice of abortion a crime.

          And in no way shape or form have you EVER admitted we should “care for all” or do ANYTHING except the force of law to end abortion (which means you are enabling abortion).

          NO ONE said that “to accomplish that [you] must vote Democratic.” But you just keep admitting that you cannot vote for anything that helps stop abortion except the force of law you voted for that you claim does not want it by force of law… do you read what you write?

          The fact is that not all will “thrive” no matter the economy, and Republicans have not had any offer to “fairly distribute our resources” since the Civil Rights Movement.

          If we had a system that did fairly distribute our resources” millions of the unborn you claim to care so much about would be welcomed.

          At no point has John P or anyone else told you that you “have to accept [our] politics as if they were an article of faith that the only way a Christian can vote or think is that of a liberal Democrat.” You make that meme up because you KNOW the tenets of Jesus’ teachings are far removed from the Republican “values” you voted for and need to blame someone.

    • To quote Joe: I don’t think there should be laws that everyone should be a Catholic or have to go to Mass on Sunday or have to live according to the moral standards of my faith.

      Oh that’s a highly ironic statement coming from you, Joe, when you and/or your side want to pass laws requiring everyone to live according to the moral standards of your faith regarding such things as gay marriage, abortion, etc. Your party has been trying to legislate its religious beliefs for decades. Hell members of your party have routinely said “The United States must obey God’s law.”

      Oh and don’t spout that “I hate abortion because I’m pro life” bit again unless you want to once again get slammed for not being pro life enough to think that everyone should be entitled to adequate food, shelter and health care. Not even the babies you so dearly want born.

      For forty years now, Joe, your side has convinced itself that it is the party of Christianity, the party of God, the party of “Christian family values.” That the only Christians are the ones that vote Republican.

      Well, Joe, that is hypocritical BS and you know it. The current occupant of the White House proves that one is BS beyond a shadow of a doubt.

      • Hi James.

        Don’t listen to me then. Listen to what your Church is telling you about the unborn.

        And I will seriously consider voting for Democrats when they demonstrate that they believe the unborn have a moral worth and deserve to be protected. Why can’t the Democrats who supposedly care so much for everyone give us the entire package and include those waiting to be born?

        • And I will seriously consider voting for Republicans when they demonstrate that they believe the unborn have a moral worth and deserve to be protected beyond just the force of law and guilt trips.

          Democrats, who care for everyone, give the unborn (and born) child much more support and opportunity than the Republicans who only want to use the force of law to control women. That is just a moral fact. You can pretend that your way ends abortion, but it never has. It only mitigated it. Just as what we support can already do.

  11. And for many reasons that you have mentioned, I reiterate that the Church of the living God must stand as the “Pillar and Foundation of the Truth!”

    Therefore, my conviction is that we must stand for righteousness in every respect concerning this God hating culture. We do not compromise in the name of being polite.

    Jesus confronted the powers that be in His day, especially the Pharisees and Sadducees, which made up the Sanhedrin Council.

  12. John, thank you again for your words.

    I feel exactly the same. I also believe that no matter if the haters try to remove every trace of President Obama’s Presidency we will all have our memories. We have our memories of a man unashamed to show his love for his wife and daughters consistently and often. We have our memories of a man who rose above hatred, obstruction and so many false accusations. Obama never claimed to know everything, that he was the only one who could fix it, or that he had all the answers.

    Many of the false allegations were tweeted consistently by our current President – from his birthplace to his policies and actions.

    Who has acted in a more “Christian” manner? Who has consistently shown more class and empathy for the people of this country? Which one has taken responsibility for himself? Which one has not lowered the bar for common decency of the office of the President by stomping on all norms and expecting and being allowed to break rules that have been in place for a reason?

    Supposedly one of the reasons for the origin of this country was freedom of Religion. What others believe or do not believe should not harm another – should not be used as a hammer to pound all the square pegs into round holes. I am a square peg and will not be hammered into any other shape as long as I have my own mind and heart. I can still feel hope every day – more so when my youngest granddaughter says “C’mon gramma follow me”. I will follow her and I will protect her with my life and I will hope that she will have the wonderful life she deserves. I have faith.

    Peace

  13. Thank you John for another wonderful article.
    I wait with baited breadth for each e-mail announcing another writing from you. Keep them coming please!

  14. Then, by all means, what is the ‘good’ Christian political choice?

    How much spiritual impurity do you expect us to put up with when making our choices, or is the better choice to not vote at all, but to use activism at the neighborhood level and not worry about what direction things take higher up?

    Do you worry about who we politically ally with and what decidedly non-Christian values they embrace? After all, atheists might well went to put food in a poor child’s belly while denying them even the mention of Christ’s Love and an Eternal Afterlife. Are we supposed to be ‘okay’ with that because the atheist wants to fight poverty?

    **

    But, it gets better …

    “Ultimately, are these political matters or spiritual ones:”
    Both. We are mortal beings with spiritual needs.

    “Eliminating poverty?”
    Cool. By all means, donate everything you make to the poor, but where in the Bible does it say you can take your neighbor’s belongings to pursue YOUR spiritual desires. That would be the essence of taxation … which is political … and you would cloak that in spiritual terms.

    “Caring for the planet?”
    How? I’m not sure where in the Bible it said we had to support the Paris Accords, or accept the numerous mis-truths spouted about Global Warming. We, as Humans, proved we could organize globally to fight the hole in the Ozone Layer.

    Climate Change is very real and is a much more complicated issue. President Obama accepted a deal he KNEW the US Congress wouldn’t accept when he made those lofty agreements ~ which included US payments to other countries and restrictions to US industries ~ which are both the domain of Congress aka LAWS. It was a BAD deal then and there is nothing un-Christian with realizing that now.

    “Ensuring equality for all people?”
    Sure. Egalitarianism is a wonderful thing. The Republican Party could certainly do better by learning to stay out of people’s personal lives.

    It would be absolute stunning if anyone began caring about the far higher rate of young White male suicides in High School, the continuing decrease in White males going to colleges and universities and the escalating rate of older White male suicides … but no one cares … because they are White and male and they don’t have any advocacy groups … because such entities would instantly be labeled racist and misogynistic. Woot!

    “Confronting violence and bigotry?”
    Yep. Right now Evergreen College and the G-20 stand out to me as examples of unrestrained political bigotry and violence. Teachers being told they weren’t safe teaching on campus? 200+ police officers being physically injured?

    We can roll back to the ‘Battle of Berkeley’, the ‘Burning of Berkeley’ and numerous people leaving Trump rallies and being beaten up by peaceful anti-Trump ‘counter-protesters’.

    “Caring for sick people?”
    The ACA was sold as a lie, had no bipartisan support and has been a boondoggle from the start. If you think Caesar should be in Healthcare then so be it.

    “Avoiding war?”
    Is this an insistence that violence solves nothing, or embracing the concept of a ‘Just War’? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

    “Protecting the vulnerable and young in our midst?”
    I am unaware of any particular Republican agenda which would insist anyone NOT take care of the vulnerable, or young, in our midst. I am also uncertain how Christian it is to INSIST another person do that for us.

    “Fighting government corruption?”
    Again, I am unaware of an particular current government policy which SUPPORTS and/or CONDONES governmental corruption.

    • To quote James: How much spiritual impurity do you expect us to put up with when making our choices, or is the better choice to not vote at all, but to use activism at the neighborhood level and not worry about what direction things take higher up?

      *points at Trump* There is one of the most spiritually impure people in the country. Did you vote for him? Yes? Then you really don’t get to talk.

      To quote: After all, atheists might well went to put food in a poor child’s belly while denying them even the mention of Christ’s Love and an Eternal Afterlife.

      It’s a safe bet that every town in the country has at least one church. Are you saying parents and churches are incapable of doing their jobs? Are you saying that kids who aren’t Christians should be forced, by the government, to attend Christian churches? That rather throws religious freedom out the window don’t you think?

      it isn’t the job of the government, on any level, to ensure that kids, or anyone else, has been exposed to “the mention of Christ’s Love and an Eternal Afterlife.”

      The spiritual upbringing, if any, of any kid is up to the kid’s parents, not the government. The only part the government has to play in that equation is ensuring that the parents have the right to do so if they choose. But if the parents of little boy David decide that they’re not going to bring their boy up in a Christian church, or any house of worship at all, that is the right of the parents and you have no right to circumvent that.

      If that means some kid grows up not knowing “the mention of Christ’s Love and an Eternal Afterlife. ” then so be it, you have no right to say otherwise.

      • Sure he gets to talk. It doesn’t matter how “spiritually impure” you think Donald Trump is. We were voting for a President and not the Pope or a Sunday school teacher, besides that fact that Hillary is not without spot or blemish.

  15. Dear John Pavlovitz Reader:

    Christian faith is kingdom.
    God’s Kingdom is political.

    Severing faith and politics denies Jesus’ incarnation.
    The politics of this world is not the politics of faith.

    Beside Lu 4:18-19, Jesus’ temptation is instructive here.

    Satan would cede all claims to earthly kingdoms IF Jesus agreed to run the world Satan’s way and on Satan’s agenda.

    Standing in direct contrast to Jesus’ Lu 4:18-19 Kingdom of God manifesto, the pro-war/austerity/social misery/mass incarceration/vanished healthcare/penury/unemployment program is revealed to be Satan’s agenda.

    Democrat or Republican — ‘Christians’ who support that agenda align with Satan’s kingdom over Jesus’ objection. Democrat or Republican — Christians who support the Lu 4:18-19 agenda give allegiance to the Kingdom of God.

    Democrat or Republican — alignment with and devotion to Satan’s kingdom/agenda manifests enmity whenever the politics of faith makes God’s intrusive kingdom incarnate.

    The protests John Pavlovitz mentions echo across time. They echo in ‘no room for God incarnate in the inn.’ They echo in the demonic protest that ‘our time of torment has not yet come!’ Satan’s kingdom makes no room for God’s kingdom.

    In other words – keep the politics of faith out of politics!

    Mr. Pavlovitz’ juxtaposition of the kingdom of God with the Roman Empire is exactly correct – with one nuance.

    Behind imperial Rome stands Pharaoh’s Egypt, and Philistia, Moab, Tyre, Babylon, etc. Today, we are all these and more. That’s why our social/political/economic conditions what they are. It’s why Lu 4:18-19 is so profoundly relevant today.

    The struggle of Egypt/Philistia/Moab/Tyre/Babylon/Rome against the Kingdom of God IS the great struggle of the ages.
    And that is why we dare not reduce it to a partisan ‘Democrat/Republican’ message.

    Blessings!

  16. I think there’s a vocabulary thing going on here that might be causing people to misunderstand what the other is saying: “political” and “involved in politics” can have very different meanings, but, like the old ‘imply/infer’ thing, many people may use one when they mean the other.

    • Pure BS Ed—and here is why. No one is trying to make the American government it’s God or replace the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob with government. That is patently false—and to be quite honest with you—a just plain stupid claim. Basically, what this guy is saying is that if a person is sick and needs help because of it, the government should not help that person. Instead, the person should help himself (but what if he cannot?) or sit on a cushion and pray for God and God alone to heal them—and if He does neither—which is often the case—that person should just die. Jesus on the other hand asked us to reach in and heal the sick with what means we have because that is the job he has given us as his people. I might also add that Jesus never said that it is wrong or sinful for government to heal people or otherwise help meet their needs. In fact, in Old Testament Israel and New Testament Israel, the Jewish religion WAS the government and most of the charity was Jewish government charity. Nowhere Ed—nowhere—does the Bible say that is a wrong way to do things.

      I will be happy to tell you what people like this investment tycoon who wrote the article really wants everyone to a be an individual and do everything individually. Individual people are weak, and they stay weak. This allows him and his money bags buddies to do whatever they wish in this world without organized opposition or criticism. Human beings are only truly strong in the context of social organization. Massive individualism gives free reign for the financial, banking, and business world to be wolves who predate on the American people in the same way that the lions cut out the individuals from the herd and kill them. See Comcast and the way it predates on its customers. All businesses will soon be like Comcast under this kind of philosophy—and they will eat you alive Ed. They are already eating me alive. They took away my career and my job—and half of my life savings are gone because of it.

      Ed. Selfishness is not a moral value. Selfishness is not a God value. Selfishness is not a Jesus value. Selfishness is not a Holy Spirit value. You can search the Bible all day, and you will never find it. This man’s appeal to individualism is a way of assuring that SELFISHNESS will reign as the primary value in life and in American society—and it totally escapes me how the Golden Rule figures in any logical or meaningful way into the odd little diatribe this guy has written. I wonder if he even knows the meaning of the Golden Rule in the Bible?

      If religion is ever replaced by anything—Ed—which I doubt from my experience as an anthropologist—it will most likely be science that replaces it—not government. Bronislaw Malinowski posited that long ago. I know. I know. You never heard of Malinowski. Right Ed? That is precisely what I would expect from a person who buys into all of the lame BS that you do—-in a desperate effort to prop up the worst moral sides of yourself and your own personal selfishness and lack of heart for ordinary people and their suffering—and all in the name of Jesus. Bronislaw Malinowski was one of the three or four greatest anthropologists of the 20th century—one of the Einsteins of his own field of study. Maybe you should pull your head out of the rear end of FOX News and Rush Limbaugh and get a real education somewhere—you might start with the sayings and doings of Jesus in the New Testament—all of them—not just the few you want hear. Jesus meant all those things. He was not just blowing air.

      • I don’t know Chuck, this guy did quite a bit of good in his life, irregardless of his political affiliation, if you care to read up on his many great humanitarian accomplishments. This guy puts a lot of liberals to shame when it comes to helping others. And I’ll bet he did it with his own money to boot!

        Jesus on the other hand asked us to reach in and heal the sick with what means we have because that is the job he has given us as his people.

        I agree with you on this point. Jesus never organized an event through the local government where he tried to help others. He always helped others personally, as we should too.

        Nowhere Ed—nowhere—does the Bible say that is a wrong way to do things.

        If it is so great of a method, why didn’t Jesus us it and establish a pattern for us? Could it be because good done one-on-one is what Jesus wanted us to do all along? So many good emotions and feelings are lost when good is done through a second-hand source.

        All businesses will soon be like Comcast under this kind of philosophy—and they will eat you alive Ed. They are already eating me alive. They took away my career and my job—and half of my life savings are gone because of it.

        I’m sorry to hear that. I lost a job once due directly to the 9-11 attacks. I feel you are hurting a great deal inside Charles. I feel you are harboring massive amounts of anger and resentment towards not only Comcast, but others as well, myself included. Charles, anger is a poison that we wish others to drink but is only swallowed by the one who holds the grudge, and ends up being the one who dies on the inside. Don’t hold onto this anger Charles! Let God deal with those who wronged you. It’s killing you.

        • I have forgiven the people who angered me personally. Right now, I am angry at the way that you and other people like you treat other people—and then stamp it—Approved by Jesus. If that anger burns me up to a crisp and even one child gets help with her medical care as a result of it, then I gladly sacrifice myself for her and others like her. That’s your problem Ed. You are always trying to save yourself while your fellow man rots on the street corner.

    • Dear Edward:

      Mr. Forstmann’s record explains his class identity. Of course he stands for reversing all the social gains and blood-won rights of the working class! He rues that the Gilded Age to which privatization returns us ever had to be abandoned in the first place!

      I’ll overlook the destitution of analysis [oh, and how says I can’t trust God and agree with Marx’ view of surplus value] and ask how the 1 and other 9% benefit by reducing the world’s 90% to paupers?

      Blessings!

  17. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is where Jesus failed. (sorry Jesus). He refused to stand up to the power structures of his day. Thank you John for being better than that and for being a modern day Jesus. This time around though we need to make ourselves known in the political realm. I think I could just about remove the book of John from my Bible and insert your name brother. I admire you! (Sorry Jesus – You had your chance!)

    • “This is where Jesus failed. (sorry Jesus). He refused to stand up to the power structures of his day. ”

      What? That was both Jesus’ lesson and ~ “NOT” ~ His failure.

      That is why there has always been allowances for the three aspects of mortal existence: Church (Spirit), State (Structure) and Kin (Blood).

      If we devoted ourselves totally to the welfare of the Spirit, we might all achieve Paradise, but the Human Species would die out and I don’t believe that is God’s Plan. If we abandon moral, spiritual pursuits, we fall into eternal darkness.

      If we devote ourselves totally to the welfare of the State, we allow every form of amoral and immoral behavior which we excuse for the sake of the ‘Greater Good’, ‘The People’, or ‘The Nation’. To abandon responsibility for the State we live in is to ~ to paraphrase Voltaire ~ ‘take ownership of all the good the State does not do’.

      If we devote ourselves totally to the welfare of ourselves and our kinfolk, we ignore our sense of responsibility to community and our sense of belonging to something a greater existence beyond what we can see and touch. To abandon our kin and our own maintenance is deny the gifts God has lain before us and ignore what we might need for the future good.

      If anything, Jesus reminded us of these three forces working in our lives and how to balance them so we would be worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven.

      Being Christian doesn’t qualify, or disqualify, a person for political office. Neither does being Muslim, or Atheist. Declaring one’s self Christian doesn’t guarantee you a morality others will embrace either.

      Does abortion fit within Christian morality?
      Does State execution fit within Christian morality?

      I can guarantee self-identifying Christians will disagree about the two questions above to yet they are still Christians … so why would anyone think Christians are any kind of political block, or prone to follow one political party over another?

  18. “Whether you identify as Christian or not, my faith does not need to be your faith—but don’t expect that faith to stay only where you believe it is supposed to be to keep you comfortable. You don’t get to decide that. I don’t even get to either.”

    I agree 100%. My conscience informed by my faith led me to choose Donald Trump among the flawed and imperfect choices.

    Can we agree to disagree about political choices? Can we presume that Christians who have different political ideas hold those ideas in good faith and with the best of intentions?

    • Likely without a thought to the irony, Joe Catholic asked: “Can we agree to disagree about political choices? Can we presume that Christians who have different political ideas hold those ideas in good faith and with the best of intentions?” Well sure we could… but you don’t. You have railed against those who support a woman’s right to choose abortion as supporting murder of innocent life and your comments about Hillary Clinton have never left an ounce of “good faith or best of intentions”. Your hypocrisy is almost funny.

      Is it that you think no one can remember your rants?

    • “Can we presume that Christians who have different political ideas hold those ideas in good faith and with the best of intentions?”

      By “Christians” there, do you mean people who follow Christ, or people who say “I’m Christian?” (That’s sort of an eternal question whenever stuff like this comes up, I guess.)

      • The problem I see with many here is that there is a political litmus test:

        “Are you a liberal pro-choice Democrat and do you support high taxes and as much redistribution of wealth by force of law as possible?”

        And if the answer is no:

        “Well, then you aren’t really a Christian.”

        • Joe, or whoever you really are, you might want to read the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. It follows the Gospel of John in the Bible. It gives an interesting account of the early history of the Christian Church. Part of that is that no one owned things individually. The resources were pooled to meet the needs of all. I think that qualifies as “redistribution.” Of course what you are really saying is that you don’t want to help meet the needs of the poor and downtrodden in our society except on YOUR terms, not those of Jesus.

          • They did that voluntarily and didn’t point guns at people and force them to contribute.

            And I never said I don’t believe in helping the poor and needy, including by government programs.

            I just don’t see the government as the be all and end all, besides the fact that it can be very greedy and inefficient. Jesus didn’t say we needed to be Socialists. That can be voluntary in private groups as did the early Christians.

            • Jesus gave us the commandment to get it done, he did not specify that it had to be only an individual effort. He did not say we could not be a collective helping people. He certainly did not say “don’t allow the government to help.” And the ONLY ONE who claims anyone “sees the government as the be all and end all” is you.

        • Joe Catholic, you hypocrisy is just rank. If you see some “political litmus test” from us but not from yourself, you cannot see straight.

          Your use of continued straw man arguments to claim persecution is just childish. And anyone should know that quotation marks means you are quoting someone. So who are you quoting in these straw questions you keep posing?

          If you are really a Christian, then you seek ways to help anyone, and thereby everyone, not to choose abortion instead of your admitted only voting for those who will make it force of law. You do not support any of the things that would help a woman choose life, you want the law to do that for you and the law alone to do that for you. I get it that you and others do not like the truth about what Christianity is, but it remains the truth even if you reject it and try to obfuscate it.

        • Not saying you aren’t really a Christian, Joe C, but politically, you have missed the mark. The Bible covers this pretty thoroughly, but I might cite Isaiah 58:6-9, and remember God is addressing the nation, not just individuals:“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
          To loose the bonds of wickedness,
          To undo the heavy burdens,
          To let the oppressed go free,
          And that you break every yoke?
          7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
          And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
          When you see the naked, that you cover him,
          And not hide yourself from your own flesh?
          8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
          Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
          And your righteousness shall go before you;
          The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
          9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
          You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

          • Joe, the party of wealth redistribution would be the gop. They cut taxes on the rich and make us pay for it. That is the entirety of supply side economics. They have redistributed our money into the hands of the top few repeatedly.

          • I agree with all that Leda.

            I just happen to think that the greater good for our country will be by electing Republicans, though by no means do I think their policies are ideal or that they are perfect–jut better than the alternative.

  19. The Hardest Thing in Life is To Stand alone for what you really believe in . and to take a stand alone against all the deceit,and lies of society and the many different ways of thinking.
    people who just want to be heard.
    Following the bible,
    Jesus Christ is not something you pick or choose as with eating or drinking.
    It is a decision to do , A way of life to follow, a learned behavior .
    It is a Life change to Stand for Beliefs that are contrary to all around you . and to stand for Truth, righteousness, Faith, Love, Peace, all the attributes of Gods Word The bible.
    Jesus Said , let the world take care of itself. Be A Good steward an Preach the word of God , In season and out. Lay down your cares and Follow Him.
    If you are truly following Him , You will stand for Truth, right, Justice and Proclaim Jesus in everything you do.
    The Way, The Truth, The Life , way of life
    NOT of this World ( NTOW)
    Being Faithful to the one who has given all for your life.
    Preach, Teach, Learn, Train and God will take care of the little things, the poor, the hardships of life, the cares of this world .
    Put YOUR Trust in Jesus Christ , Stay Faithful No matter what the cost.
    the world reeps what it sows, and so do we.

      • I had a neighbor who thought Obama was the anti-Christ. It would have been interesting to see you two in the same room. Then again, maybe there is not that much difference between a right wing kook and a left wing kook?

  20. Many practice a strangely compartmentalized faith, one where they divide their time neatly between a spiritual life and the rest of life. This kind of thinking allows many folks to go to church for sixty minutes on the weekend—and to be largely unaffected by Jesus the rest of the week. It also allows them to openly support politicians without a trace of Christ’s benevolence, compassion, or humility. ”

    A bit off-tangent, but these words reminded me of my mom (who, for the record, will deny it but is okay with passively defending this GOP admin’s actions and indeed looks down upon the poor despite herself growing up not wealthy and under legal race discrimination and segregation). When I was younger she tried to make us all go to different church services because “if you went to church you’re automatically a good person.” I never bought it, and I either the rest of the family didn’t either or didn’t care about “looking good” because we all hated going and eventually it was dropped (for different reasons). My mom’s the only one who will occasionally go, and yeah, the irony of what she is now.

  21. Pingback: Why My Faith is Political – FairAndUNbalanced.com

  22. John, continue to preach it. Please. My UCC church is “open and affirming,” but many members are not. My colleagues in our choir are often the worst…to the point where I’ve thought of leaving the choir.

    I would love to see our pastor preach more about these issues, but I know for a fact that it would cause much more angst by the “traditional” folks who bitch and moan about everything. (He follows your blog and recommended it to me, BTW.) I am a Deacon and on Church Council, and sadly, some of those folks are the worst offenders.

    The sanctimonious nonsense spouted by the so-called Christians who promote their own self-worth and denigrate all others…is just that. Nonsense. Time for the rest of us who truly believe in what Jesus preached, to take a stand against this bull. Which really, is bullying others.

    • Kim, I hear you.

      “The sanctimonious nonsense spouted by the so-called Christians who promote their own self-worth and denigrate all others…is just that. Nonsense. Time for the rest of us who truly believe in what Jesus preached, to take a stand against this bull. Which really, is bullying others.”

      Sometimes I feel it would be very easy to leap to my death were I to jump from where their egos onto their IQs, the distance is so vast.

  23. It’s called living your faith, isn’t it? How and what I believe determines how I behave. Can’t separate the two and be at peace within. JMO

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