Of Course Faith & Politics mix. Duh! image

Of Course Faith & Politics mix. Duh!

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Paul Bickley from Theos recently wrote an excellent article titled ‘Beware the religious right red-herring’ where he argues that it is the democratic right of Christians to engage in politics, although we are a long way from having a religious right as we find in the US.

It’s well worth a read

He writes: “Let’s make no bones about it, there are people who hold all sorts of very conservative views on a range of social issues — often their views are informed by their religious commitments and experience. But it’s their democratic privilege to hold them, and their democratic privilege to work with like-minded political representatives on changing relevant legislation.” 
 
All too easily Christians are silenced by a vocal minority suggesting that faith and politics should not mix. We even find some religious leaders promoting this viewpoint: Commenting in 2005, Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks wrote in The Times “Religion becomes political at its peril, and ours.”  Similarly, Pope John Paul II “untiringly [stated] that Priests should steer clear of politics”. How can this be right?
 
If we are, as God commanded Israel, to “loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke [and] to let the oppressed go free “(Isa 58:6f), and if we are to be the “salt of the earth… [and] the light of the world… ”(Mt 5:13-14), then surely we are obliged to lobby the authorities and to advocate justice and righteousness in government policy. As Senator Roy Herron writes, “If people of faith refuse to participate in politics, then others will make the crucial decisions. In a democracy, the people get the government they choose - and work for. You could say we get the government we deserve. Government can be awful or it can be good; often it is some of both. It is our duty, both as citizens and as Christians, to make it better. The question, then, is not, how can a Christian be in politics? The question is, how can a Christian not be in politics?” Well said Roy!
 
Not only is it our duty to engage in politics but surely everyone’s values and practices are informed by what they believe, whether religious or a-religious? The suggestion then that faith and politics should not mix is absurd and naive. All values are a product of convictions. Why then should those values informed by the Christian faith be any less valid or more inferior than those informed by some other belief system? Again to quote Bickley “There are plenty of religious people who want to influence a range of policy positions — and, if they can do so within the bounds of the democratic process, why shouldn’t they?” Why not indeed! Faith and politics mix for everyone else, why shouldn’t they for Christians too?

Footnotes

    For further reading on the subject check out another article written by Adrian.

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