Christmas Reflections: Dangers from ‘Christianized’ Politics

[Guest post: Thanks to Barb C for this.]

The leaders of the religious right are not dangerous because of their politics. Even the worst of the current political issues are temporary and as the book of Eccesliastes points out, will all mean nothing in the end. They are dangerous because they lead their followers away from God.

They lead their followers away from God by representing their beliefs as synonymous with Christ and Christianity.

As much of a tragedy as abortion is, we were not asked to fight this battle, although the practice existed in Jesus’s lifetime. We were asked to care for the sick and the poor, and the extent to which we have neglected that responsibility was revealed to us by Hurricane Katrina. These victims went to the back burner when the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice became available. Is someone who continues to neglect the poor while fighting abortion really a follower of Jesus?

We have seen the recent acrimony about putting the Christ back in Christmas. But where is the Christian love in not respecting the feelings of others? Or the Christian humility in punishing retailers who do not pander to them? Is the true lesson of the humble birth of our Lord and savior that we should look for Him in the nearest department store? We’re more likely to find Santa Claus there than Jesus.

This year some churches are not holding Christmas services so that people can spend more time with their families. While that sounds nice superficially, it is one more step towards worshipping themselves rather than God. As I’ve mentioned in other comments, if you “focus on family”, you’re probably not focused on Jesus, the center of our faith.

They are also dangerous because they have succeeded in leading many of the rest of us away from God as well. This happens when we let the frustration and anger they inspire in us get the better of us. When we lash out at their hypocrisy, we also bring attention to our own lack of Christian love. One of the reasons Jesus said to turn the other cheek is that when you fight evil with evil, evil still wins. Right now evil is winning.

The answer to the danger of being led away from God is not in arguing with or about the religious right. The answer is to do the things Jesus asked us to do in the spirit of Christian love and humility. Love your enemy. Donate to a homeless shelter. Or if the spirit moves you, wish someone you don’t know “Happy Holidays”.

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  • Rob, in my eyes, this was superb explanation. The Truth is between, nay above and beyond both a conviction (label on the words) and a revelation (import of the words). But I’m happy now I didn’t try to expound this in response to Jim’s challenge. You did it better:

    3 wishes they would just stop for 5 seconds and the light would come on, then it could be some kind of indefinite ceasefire.

    Exactly what I feel when looking on the task that all western democracies now urgently face to square personal morals with democratic and humane political decency. Consortium-news has an end-of-year article giving a concerned outlook between hope and fear to the next year of political decision in America, and here’s what I argued on a liberal forum on why this is of importance for any Christian and any citizen throughout the western world.

  • Jim: “But isn’t that exactly what is doing?”

    Sure it is. Always us and them, isn’t it? Thesis and antithesis, Christ and antichrist. One is part of the problem, one is part of the solution. One draws truth from the Word, one writes “The Truth!” on their words. Each of the pair has so much in common, it’s a few critical elements that make all the difference.

    In this case, i believe it is the pursuit of peace that shows the attitude of Christ in His people. i do not believe the religious right is “pursuing peace with all people, wherever possible”, not with anyone but their own, and not always. i believe they actually create the conflict, not realizing that the opposition (of unbelievers) is merely responding to the threat of fanaticism they fear. So the Pharisees and the unbelievers are indefinitely locked in a power struggle for control of our freedoms, if you can even imagine that. In the end, there are two sides on the problem and one side on the solution, opposite the other two in a defining aspect called the absolute truth. Neither realizes that, ironically, they are cooperating under the influence of God’s enemy, and that the situation is a super-scale model of Newton’s Third law: Whenever one body exerts force upon a second body, the second body exerts an equal and opposite force upon the first body. The two groups are merely responding to each other and slowly, in unison, increasing their ouput. If there were no force of conflict, there would be no pressure in either direction… It only gets worse because each side is hell-bent on taking the power over this country’s legislative process and steering it as they see fit, and each is afraid that the other side’s victory will result in major loss of liberty for them.

    The third side isn’t in the fight. One and Two are sure that they represent Good and Evil, with each side convinced that they are the Good. The third party is free from that. The only conflict between (1,2) and (3) is that 3 knows nobody can ever win the fight between 1 and 2. 3 knows that only God is good and (1,2)’s fighting is senseless and serves only evil. 3 wishes they would just stop for 5 seconds and the light would come on, then it could be some kind of indefinite ceasefire.

    You could cancel the culture war by showing them that they could leave each other to their own– but good luck convincing Pharisees and unbelievers to give instead of take, as Christ taught. Even if Isaac Newton was a brilliant scientist AND a devout Christian.

    While you’re delivering attitude #3 to the legalists and the lawless, you could apply and show the same exact pattern to Israelis and Palestinians. Wow. Jesus can solve that? Matthew 5 thru 7. Raise your hand if you thought endlessly recursive retaliation was more (wrath-of-)Godlike.

    i also believe that i’m the least qualified individual to correct anyone. However, the truth only needs to be repeated, not initiated. If it speaks for itself, my ineffectiveness should have no ability to negate it.

    Thanks, Barb. You said it. i believe it is absolutely a case of fools fighting evil with evil. Show me a way to reinterpret the Sermon on the Mount so that is the correct response, and i’ll show you a politically correct way to brainwash yourself 🙂

  • BarbC: “They lead their followers away from God by representing their beliefs as synonymous with Christ and Christianity.”

    But isn’t that exactly what is doing? What you’re doing? I don’t see each post carefully point out “this is just my belief, not necessarily Christianity.” Just the opposite.

  • BarbC,

    Thanks for the insightful words. They express so clearly what I have been mulling over and praying about for some time now. I have come to the decision, with God’s help, of course, to not be silent in my Church about these issues. I speak out in Sunday School whenever I have the opportunity. I believe this is the only way we’ll ever be able to get Christ’s message out to Christians once again. This is too sad, but too true.

    God Bless,

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