Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Bad Mix

In recent months in the Minneapolis Star Tribune there have been a few articles in their Faith & Values section about conservative Christian leaders who have grown frustrated with the mixing of faith (the church) and politics. I found it interesting because that was part of the genius of George W. Bush politics. He managed to engage the conservative, Christian, right with their sense of morals and values for our nation.

The danger, I think, is the Bible is not nearly as clear cut as poll taking politicians would like it to be. Sure you can make arguments that grow out of the Bible that support a conservative anti-abortion side of politics. You can also make arguments that grow out of the Bible that support liberal spending that supports food shelves and homeless shelters. I don't remember Jesus ever throwing his weight behind a particular political party or agenda. He told Peter, "If you love me then feed my sheep." I also remember Jesus encouraging us to "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself." He didn't tell us how to do it.

Now, because there weren't clear instructions on how to do these things we get political finger pointing, with each side accusing the other side of evil ways. One of the problems is that what your mother taught you is true. When you point a finger at someone there are three more pointing back at you. Do we need a clearer demonstration of that than this most recent political scandal coming out of Congress? Mark Foley led a self-righteous personal agenda pointing fingers at the evils of this world, and it turned out he stumbled morally himself - the fingers started pointing to him. We are all capable of sin. We all do it.

In recent years the conservative leaders have wanted to claim a moral high ground by pointing towards their political victories/success. We have learned they are maybe no better than the rest of us. That's not to say the liberal, democratic side is immune to it. I wouldn't be surprised to see liberals claiming moral high ground or religious superiority in the near future and have it come crashing in on them as well. It seems the way we humans operate, somewhat oblivious to history.

You see, I think, religion and politics are a bad mix. I would agree that our faith influences how we view the world and how we make decisions. We can't leave our faith at home when we go to the polls to vote this fall. However, I don't think the Democrats nor the Republicans can claim to have a corner on operating how God wants. Do you remember when Jesus cleared the temple? In part people were claiming a religious superiority and trying to sell it, just like some of our politicians are trying to do today. It all falls short because ultimately it is simply the seller turned in, focused on, themselves and that is how I remember Luther describing sin.

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