Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Religion With Politics

I heard it said once that, “Mixing religion with politics is like mixing ice cream with manure; it doesn't affect the manure much, but it really messes up the ice cream.” What reminds me of this truth rather vividly is the Pope’s recent visit to America. Aside from the nauseating worship of a mere human being, the left showed an even more sickening display of hypocritical double standards when it comes to the mixing of religion with politics. This is the same left that openly fights to silence and suppress the religious (including Catholics), and now finds a religious leader who is willing to say what they want to be rammed down everyone’s throats. The left is fine with the Pope speaking in favor of climate hoaxes, illegal immigration and income equality. But, they censor his (and any other religious leader’s) comments when opposed to abortion, “gay marriage,” and religious liberty. But regretfully, in last week’s display, we observed little evidence that anyone was actually speaking for God. And, the fact that anyone gives this corruption of religion an ear to the highest levels of our government is entirely alarming and deeply saddening.

Aside from the audience being our elected representatives, the core rot in this form of idolatry is that nobody is actually advocating for God while openly claiming that they do. A true representative of Jesus Christ should only advocate for God and ignore political sides. It is God’s side versus all others. For example, from everything we know about the God of the Bible, God is not focused on “climate change”, open borders, or progressive tax rates. God is most focused on two things: (1) Reconciling dying souls into eternal relationship with Him, and (2) Beautifying His bride, the Church. Everything else is quite distant on God’s agenda. But, you might conclude differently from what we observed.

Another example of another group picking one of many Godless political sides in God’s name is today’s Western Christians who openly support the persecution of Christians that act on spiritual conviction, by citing pastors who insanely defend the jailing of the Bride of Christ. Such Christians and pastors are choosing a political side in the name of religion, but are ignoring the side of our Bridegroom (God). God’s side is radically polarizing in a culture bent on political correctness. For another brazen example of religious-political mingling, one need look no further than the Pope’s actual speech before Congress. Pope Francis gave the first historical address to both houses of Congress. And, while leftist Christians cheer on his statements in favor of socialism and governmental suppression of freedom, they refuse to see how the “Vicar of Christ” failed to even mention Christ one time in his speech. If Paul or Peter were invited to speak before Congress, would they have similarly failed to mention Jesus or His Gospel? No. In fact, Paul addressed the most pagan of assemblies throughout the Europe of his day including an audience with Caesar’s administration, never once failing to point to Jesus and His Gospel. Christian, any time a religious leader tries to sway elected representatives towards a political end, especially one demanding centralization of power and the seizing of wealth, that is a perversion of all that Jesus represents. It is a form of taking God’s name in vain – in this case without even mentioning God’s name. We should all oppose such mingling of religion with politics. And instead, we would gladly embrace a Pope’s address to Congress that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ for each individual member's personal benefit.

To be clear, opposing mingling of religion with politics does not mean Christians can’t affect the political process on moral issues. We can and should speak out individually and corporately to affect the outcome of elections. Opposing mingling religion with politics also does not mean that government should sponsor atheism or eliminate religious symbols and prayer from the public square. It also does not mean that elected representatives should be silent about their faith. All of the above have already been codified by the governed as inalienable rights explicitly recognized in our Constitution. What anti-mingling does mean is that representatives should represent the governed. And, if the governed clearly demand moral legislation, their representatives have a democratic obligation to make it so. In fact, all legislation is an expression of morality. But, representatives should not force their personal religion on those they represent. There is no such thing as a willing dictatorship. That is why a political address by the Pope in the name of religion is quite grievous.

Opposing the mingling of religion with politics most explicitly means that the governed should govern themselves. This happens only through a democratic process of electing those who best represent the electorate. That translates into passing laws that lean only to the bias of the electorate. It also means that we should not be shamed into denying freedom. Freedom, after all, is the only political position that is unanimously supported by every electorate. Those who oppose freedom should be granted their desire personally, not broadly. Laws should not be passed by our representatives just because some religious leader says that we should ignore wishes of the voters. Laws should be passed because the governed demand it, period. Yes, religious conviction can be a reason why the majority of the electorate demands certain legislation. That is acceptable. But, trotting out religious leaders before our representatives to proclaim Jesus would support a certain law against the will of the governed is a distortion of both religion and politics. By the way, Jesus has no mouthpiece other than Himself. Jesus lives and, therefore, He is His own mouthpiece. Christ is our High Priest and, therefore, He is His own Vicar. It is not as if Jesus merely was our Good Shepherd - Jesus still is our Good Shepherd.

With that background, allow me to summarily expose as false the failed assertions of the Pope and other well-meaning, yet ill-ended religious and political leaders. In doing so, we don’t support his address even with these corrections. Rather, below we show how each of his points are spiritually misguided:

  • Regarding socialism, Jesus never supported the Roman government or even the Temple redistributing wealth to the poor. He advocated for the individual to freely and cheerfully give radically to the poor. Forcing charity largely defeats God’s purpose for charity. And, even in God’s theocratic government of Israel, tithes and taxes were ordered on a flat-rate basis (Deuteronomy 14:22-23, Exodus 31:11-16, etc.). If God did not enforce redistribution of wealth via progressive taxation in His own theocracy, on what authority should we believe that He would support the idea in America today?
  • Regarding climate change, Jesus never advocated for the seizing of wealth in a pursuit founded on the arrogant notion that we, not God, fatally influence the global climate (Genesis 8:22, Matthew 5:45, etc.). God commands us to be good stewards of what He entrusted to us. But, that should never translate into collective arrogance, but individual humility. Ironically, in the book of Revelation, Jesus Himself will direct the climate in addition to many other natural forces to wipe out large percentages of our population. He will do that, not us.
  • Regarding illegal immigration, Jesus never advocated for countries to have open borders and welfare states. God even commanded Israel to have borders and walls, and promised to curse whomever attempted to modify those borders. God also commanded us to take care of the sojourner as an individual responsibility (legal immigration), and regarding welfare-without-work, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (Deuteronomy 10:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:10, etc.). Finally, Jesus never advocated for breaking laws (Romans 13), and that includes immigration laws.
  • Regarding capitalism, that is another word for economic freedom. Jesus clearly stood for freedom of the individual from corrupt government tyranny (Proverbs 13:4, John 8:36, Jeremiah 17:5, Proverbs 24:21, etc.). Jesus opposes individual and corporate covetousness and greed, but not to the degree of removing free will. While the Pope near demonizes economic freedom, it is economic freedom that has pulled more people out of poverty and enslavement than any other system humanity has ever known. It is not perfect like mankind. But, it is the most perfect system available to corrupt man. And, the systems for which the Pope deceptively advocates have historically driven the largest numbers of people into poverty, slavery, slaughter and genocide - more than any other system humanity has ever known. Given how many people this generous nation of America (through liberty) has pulled out of poverty, ours should be the last system demonized – our system should be rather praised.

The summary of Jesus and His teachings are all directed at the individual and the Church. Therefore, nobody should force the words of Jesus upon others through the violent threat of centralized government, neither for the causes of the left nor the causes of the right. The Kingdom priorities of Christ carried out by individuals through His Church – they are never carried out by government. If you oppose the notion of organized religion, this truth should resonate with you clearly because government would be the worst form of organized religion - organized religion with a militia. Government will never be God’s instrument for carrying out the Kingdom work of Jesus Christ. It was never called to – that is our individual calling. When anyone spins Christ’s individual mandates into political dictates, they are not following Jesus, they are following Rome. And, Rome as an idea/symbol, has never represented pro-Christ. It has almost always been a symbol of that which crucified Christ, martyred Christians and is named as backing the Antichrist in the End Times prophesied in the book of Revelation.

If Jesus were to address Congress, He would definitely have been politically incorrect, as He was in the Bible. He would not have been favorably received. Jesus is the polar opposite of political correctness. That is why He was crucified. And, that is why Peter and Paul were so often jailed, whipped, stoned and left for dead. To illustrate what this might have looked like before Congress: Given that the biggest holocaust today (aside from abortion) is the genocidal annihilation of Christians by Muslims around the globe, I wonder why the Pope had so little to say about this and with near zero sense of urgency? Why did the Pope not implore our leaders to stand up and defend the truly innocent that are being victimized through the most violent extremes? Can’t we all accept the propriety of such an address in our times? Maybe such a priority was too inconvenient for a political agenda? Again, standing and speaking for Jesus is always politically inconvenient. Yet, stand for Jesus we must.

Any time a leader makes a political appeal to some authority other than the view of the electorate, that is a religious appeal. Such religious appeals should not be made to political leaders in opposition to their constituents, but to the people who elect them. Religion in politics can only be expressed through the ballot box and expressions by individuals and their churches. It has no other expression in government. When someone stands before the electorate or those who represent them and remotely implies that God says we should tax more, control more, and redistribute more, all in the name of religion – that is one of the worst of heresies. That is the wrong messenger advocating a false message in the name of human power and arrogance that history has shown us every time results in rampant pain and death. Such false proclamations should be shouted down with “Let freedom reign. Leave us alone!”

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