The Politics of Religion

Last week, I wrote a blog entitled, “The Religion of Politics.” In it, I postulated that, for many people, politics has become their religion. I’m not sure how many folks agree with me on that point, but it got a significant number of hits (readers).

Even as I wrote the title, I had to think about whether to call it “The Religion of Politics,” or “The Politics of Religion.” In processing that conundrum, it occurred to me that not only were they distinctly different, but they were both worth exploring. While some people may adopt politics AS their religion, there is no doubt that there are many people of faith who inject politics INTO their religion.

I just came across a Twitter post of a young man who said, “You are finished, (insert name of political party here). You polished the final nail for your own coffins. F**K. YOU. ALL. TO. HELL. I hope the last images burned into your slimy, evil, treasonous retinas are millions of [people] laughing and clapping and celebrating as your souls descend into the flames.”

“Descend into the Flames”

I’ve never done an extensive study of world religions, so I’m not sure how many of them believe in a hell (or a burning one at that). Apparently, this guy does, and his beliefs include burning those who disagree with his politics in the flames of hell. I can only assume he believes he will not be assigned there one day.

I’ve heard other people elevate the US Constitution to the level of Scripture. They believe that both the Bible and the Constitution were inspired by God. They are on an opposite end of the spectrum from our original example, but they are both politicizing their religion.

There are some Christians who believe one must be a Democrat to practice the Christian faith. Others believe you have to be a Republican to be a follower of Christ. I’m not sure where that leaves an unaffiliated soul like myself, but I’ll take my chances.

“An Incredible Phenomenon”

I’ve seen many congregations over the years that have openly supported one political party over another. Some churches split over such affiliations. In my eyes, that’s always been an incredible phenomenon. I don’t recall Jesus getting very political (although there have been books written to propose the opposite view).

The truth remains, however, that following Jesus will get you into trouble with the powers that be—sooner or later. I’ve never preached a sermon that propagated for one political party, but I’ve preached through many passages that would lead us to oppose some of the practices of governments and political leaders. It, inevitably, got me into hot water (or at least a cold reception).

While Jesus (at least in my view) was not political, he was certainly revolutionary. The problem with injecting politics into your religion is that, eventually, you will stop being revolutionary and become more loyal to your party than to Jesus. If I’m not mistaken, God calls that, “worshiping idols.” May it never be.

[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]

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