The Political Irony Of The Christian Right
Jesus said, “Follow me.” He didn’t say, “Run for office in my name.”
I have had a sense of wonder about just how political some Christians have become these days. I see how hot they’ve been to stack the Supreme Court in ways that would support or favor their religion. I have even used the term, “Christian Supremacy” to raise awareness of their efforts to gain protection from a government that is supposed to serve us all. And I wondered, did Jesus ever get involved in politics?
So I did a little research and found a few biblical scholars who wrote on the subject. The results are very consistent. In every article I found, they said the same thing. Jesus was neutral. He did not participate in politics. He made a point of avoiding politics and focused on his singular purpose. He walked The Way, and said, “Follow me.”
When I see Donald Trump extolling the virtues of a Christian nation, I see him going wayward from Jesus. When I see Donald Trump offering exceptional government protection for Christians, I see someone who is not following Jesus. When I see some Christians so excited over the news of the potential for a court case that would criminalize abortion, allow prayer in public schools, or give priority to Christianity over other religions in any realm, I see a people who have lost The Way.
So when I see Donald Trump talk about his “perfect phone call” on Twitter, I reminded him that only God is perfect and that God said, “there shall be no other gods before me.”
Now I know that not all Christians are like this. I know that some of them keep it private. I know that some Christians actually *rely* upon God for their protection, rather than a government. I know that some Christians follow their faith for the intended purpose: to become a better person. I know that some Christians have the better sense to keep their religion out of politics. So when I refer to Christians in this article, I mean, Christians who are agitating politics to impose their religious beliefs upon others. I just can’t think of any other reason to bring religion into politics.
In every depiction of Jesus that I have ever seen, I have never seen him seek the protection of the government. I have never seen or heard of Jesus getting involved in politics. I have never seen him put another religion down. I have always seen Jesus depicted as a man who would help anyone find The Way. Jesus didn’t discriminate. He didn’t play favorites.
This is the political irony of the modern Christian Right. Day in and day out, I see them organizing, plotting, planning, and winning elections to high office. They say that they want to restore America to the “great Christian Nation” it once was. Really? Do you mean the nation that openly discriminated against African Americans and other people of color, and still does? Do you mean the nation that did not believe that women and men are equals in partnership in life? Do you want to return to the American nation that was unaware of its faults?
Jesus said, “follow me.” He did not say, “take up high offices in government for your own protection.” He did not even seek protection from the government so that he may practice a religion. He just practiced a religion. His immediate followers practiced a religion without ever bringing their religion into any government. Why did they avoid politics?
Because the first Christians did not believe that the government had the power to protect them. They did not trust the government. They believed that an all-knowing, all-powerful supernatural being they called “God” would provide them with all the protection they needed. They exhibited supreme confidence in their faith, a confidence that is belied by every modern Christian who thinks that they need the power of government to save them.
I see none of that confidence in modern Christians politics today. I see them cheering on Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. I see them drooling at the prospect of criminalizing abortion, never minding that making something illegal doesn’t stop it. Murder is illegal and it still happens. You should hear them talk about the 2nd Amendment.
These same people openly support and engage in war if it would offer them protection for their religion. War is just legalized murder, and war is entirely justified to these people if it would ensure their path to heaven. The problem here is that murder is a sin. Murder is prohibited by the Ten Commandments, but that doesn’t seem to stop a few very powerful Christians from engaging in war or murder.
Christians engage in politics to make other people change, too. Laws that support prayer in schools are designed to stigmatize the kids who don’t pray. They appear to hope that with a little shame, they can bring more people into the fold. They appear to be hopeful that they can build a gigantic downline in God’s MLM by making America into a Christian nation. Amway doesn’t stand a chance against God in government.
Christianity is not about changing other people. Like many other religions, it’s about learning how to become a better person. The protection we seek in life doesn’t come from changing other people. The protection we need comes from faith in knowing that when we act peacefully, we attract peace. Using religion to control or change the behavior of other people is not the intended purpose of religion. The only purpose that I can see in religion is becoming a better person.
The irony of Christians in politics is that the safety and protection that they seek from the government is already in the hands of their god. It is folly to seek additional protection by mixing religion with government.
Perhaps then, when some very powerful Christians figure this out, we might form a better union that protects everyone within, without regard to religion.