I think of myself as a religious person. I was raised Christian, taught to follow Jesus’ example and believe the Bible. I’ve attended three churches, each conservative and evangelical where members proclaimed that their beliefs should be our country’s laws; however, in America, there is a legal doctrine that keeps religion and politics independent from one another.
Keeping religion and politics separate is not easy. Historically, America and Christianity go hand in hand. Presidents from Washington to Lincoln to FDR have said they govern by “God’s grace.” But lately, a new brand of politician has begun to speak forcefully about governing by ‘’God’s will.”
What’s the difference? “God’s grace” refers to an undeserved gift. The person who uses that phrase is, in a sense, praying for God’s guidance. The one who says he or she leads through “God’s will” is saying “I know what God is thinking.”
While I have been taught that God speaks to people and has a plan for each person, I’ve never trusted anyone living who claims to speak for God. That’s why I stand by the law that religion and politics stay separate.
For those who have religious beliefs, religion can never fully be separated from politics. And, for them, it probably shouldn’t be. It makes sense for people to vote for a candidate who agrees with them. It’s easier to trust someone who shares your world view, but it disturbs me to see conservative Christians act like spreading the good news is the same thing as cramming “Christian” laws down people’s throats. They want to force people to be “holy” like they see themselves. It doesn’t work that way.
Like Jesus, I am a liberal. Now I know that Jesus wasn’t a Republican nor was he a Democrat, but when you read the New Testament carefully Jesus communicates major liberal concerns. After all, Jesus made some pretty strong liberal statements: Love your enemies; turn the other cheek; blessed are the poor among other things. If those statements had been...