Thursday, September 6, 2012

God and Jerusalem

If you follow politics, you know by now the Democratic National Convention raised some intrigue by holding a vote to change their platform changing the wording of a particular phrase to reinstate the words "God-given talents" where it had been taken out and by including that a unified Jerusalem would be the capitol of Israel.

Video here.

Perhaps I am mistaken, but I believe the measure, at least by voice, should not have been passed.  It didn't sound like a 2/3 majority voted in favor of the amendment.  However that can be hashed out later by other pundits.  Yours truly doesn't know whether or not the main criticism of the amendments comes from the God language or the stance about Jerusalem or both, and I actually am only comfortable talking about one of those topics.  Therefore I will.

I would like to focus on is the use of God in the platform.  Of course, the Democrats put this amendment to their platform due to heavy criticism by the Republicans who noticed their absence in the original documents.  Now, whether this was an oversight or intentional, we won't know for sure.  Depends upon who you listen to.  However, the Democrats knew right off the bat this could potentially damage their public persona and cost them some votes.  Hence the necessity of getting it back into the platform.

This is where I take issue--with politics in general.  It seems to me that political parties could care less about what God wants and instead care more about how many votes God can deliver.  Think about that for a moment.  Especially in light of the following:

1. If a political party appeals to God, in a pluralistic society, one must ask, "Which God?"  It is not intellectually sufficient to say, "Everyone worships the same God, they just have different ways of doing so."  To say such a thing means the person saying it somehow knows more about God than a person who has been connected to Christianity or Islam or Judaism or Hinduism or what have you.  Furthermore, it cheapens the beliefs and doctrines of each individual religion taking away parts of their unique identities.  Religions have differing beliefs about God.  Period.  So, which one is a political party appealing to?  It makes a difference.

2. Beliefs have consequences.  An appeal to the Christian God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit leads a person or a party to institute certain teachings: love of neighbor, care and concern for the widow, the orphan, and the poor, love of enemies, forgiveness, a willingness to sacrifice one's own life for another.  All of these are central understandings of Christ.  An appeal to the Muslim faith means actively implementing the teachings of the Koran.  Same for Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, or what have you.  If such a thing is done, in many ways, it amounts to a theocracy.  Such theocracies usually have bad endings for those who are not in the "in" group--at least that's what history has shown us. 

3. Our Constitution does not allow the establishment of such a theocracy.  Now certainly this does not mean people of faith cannot seek to influence the government in its policies and laws.  A person does not just check his or her faith at the political door.  Yet, one must seek to influence with care and concern for one's neighbor--seeking not to impose his or her beliefs by force or coercion. 

What does all this mean for religious folks when it comes to politics?

I'm not totally sure what it means for everyone who believes, but for yours truly, it means I'm not going to vote for a political party just because they do or don't make reference to God in their platforms.  I'm not going to vote for a political party that seeks to make itself seem more Christian on the surface.  I'm going to look for a political party or politician that seeks to live out the ethics of my own faith--the Christian faith.

Therefore, if I see a Muslim who is kind, compassionate, trustworthy, oriented to justice, who seeks peace and strives to work with those whom he or she disagrees with, I will vote for that Muslim. 

Pressing further, if I came across an atheist who had those same qualities, I'd vote for that atheist.

In the realm of politics, giving lip service to such things is worthless.  Enacting those principles and values are worth so much more to me. 


Kathy said...

I cannot disagree with one thing you have said. I am all in favor of leaving "God" -- whoever he or she may be -- out of politics.

Your bishop just wrote on his blog: "Luther said he’d rather be governed by a wise Turk than a foolish Christian." Also, I agree.

Now for the rub. You are a Christian pastor -- granted, a Lutheran -- but, I believe, a priest of Christ. What about that statement of Luther? Hyperbole? Maybe, but let's take it at face value: Is it not the beginning of modern moral relativism?

Would not a priest of Christ say: I would rather be governed by a saint of God? In our catholic tradition, we have many saints who were kings and political leaders. The first two that come to my mind are St. Louis the King and St. Thomas More.

Why sink -- as Luther suggests -- to some lowest common denominator? -- a Christian nation (Germany?) ruled by a wise Turk. It is your duty as a Christian leader to call others to the highest standards -- as Mother Angelica says: "We are all called to be great saints."

Do not listen to the Nadia Bolz-Weber "Saints and Sinners" baloney! One look at her and everyone knows she is celebrating the "Sinner" part! Duh!

Kevin Haug said...


Luther wrote at length about the preferred qualities of a Christian leader. For him, such a leader was a given in the "Holy Roman Empire" (which was neither holy nor Roman). His point was to forcefully draw a distinction between the corrupt, inept leaders he came in contact with at times who called themselves Christian, and those leaders who might be of other faiths but still be better equipped to serve in their positions.