Getting Church and State Right
Not that we ever can get “church and state” completely right.
But we have to keep trying, right?
We citizens of the United States seem to be at a critical juncture right now. There are actually many aspects of this–political, economic, cultural and religious, to name a few. What I think we have seen actively expressed, particularly since the economic collapse and the election of President Obama, is that religious underpinnings of people’s thinking–fears and hopes plus much more–drives more of our behavior than we tend to realize.
Which way is this behavior going to go? For you personally and for us/US nationally?
One trackable element of religiously-influenced behavior is voting. Now, this has layers. The media will increasingly look at a couple of them but almost totally ignore the deeper levels that matter most. They will analyze Mitt Romney’s Mormonism and how broadly Christians (non-Mormons) may refuse to vote for him based on just that. Similarly, President Obama’s Christian faith may be re-examined. It has already been much noted that many Christians don’t believe he is a Christian at all, but rather a secret Muslim. These are interesting issues to follow, but are only the surface.
Perhaps we will hear some reflection on whether or not we are a “Christian Nation.” But it just is not in the nature of news or popular media to really dig into an issue such as this. Indeed, many people are ready to fight, perhaps to die for the concept of a Christian Nation. Exactly where did the concept come from, how historically valid is it, and why is it so, so emotionally charged?
So how does our faith inform or direct our voting (or any aspect of our citizen thinking and actions)? I’m not going to even begin to answer that here. Ultimately I can’t answer it for anyone besides myself anyway, though I could suggest some good possibilities. What I will offer is another statement from my “Progressive Christian Invitation to Mission” that deals with this issue… as a challenge to us all to both think about and dialog with each other around it, vital as it is in our country’s direction right now! (This is point 6 of 7):
6. We determine to apply the many socially-driven aspects of Christianity to local, nation-wide and even global social organization, legislation and such, knowing that how Christians think and act as citizens affects governance. We believe neither progressive nor conservative Christians are willing to divorce their understanding of the “kingdom” or “commonwealth” of God from issues of earthly life, whether personal or communal. Only careful thought and extensive discussion, which we pledge ourselves to, will lead to a deeper understanding which is particularly critical right now.
Are you willing to begin (or continue) that dialog right here? This blog draws readers from across the theological spectrum among Christians, with some readers of no religion or other religions… any and all are welcomed to share thoughts and questions!